The coronavirus pandemic has caused many challenges to students in Germany, who work alongside studying. Numerous students have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic causing them to face financial difficulties. Apart from the obvious threat of the coronavirus, students are also struggling to deal with the financial problems that the outbreak has created. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has announced that it will be providing financial assistance to students who have been affected by job losses.
Federal Education Minister Anja Karliczek spoke about the issue and the measures that the Federal Education Ministry will be taking, explaining that around two-thirds of students in Germany work while studying, while the number is even higher for international students, where around three-quarters of them are financially dependent on their part-time jobs.
The Minister claimed that many students will be able to apply for additional funding under the Federal Training Assistance Act (BAföG), however, even those who are not eligible for BAföG, or other forms of income like scholarships or an Erasmus grants, will be supported. According to the Federal Education Ministry, these students will have the possibility to apply for an “initially interest-free loan from KfW”.
Federal Minister Anja Karliczek said:
“Not all of the students concerned are able to pick up work opportunities to make up for their previous income at such short notice. These students now have the possibility to apply for an initially interest-free loan from KfW.”
Karliczek further elaborated that the measure capitalizes on the KfW student loan, which is currently offered interest-free until 31 March 2021. The loan will be available to students applying after 8 May, as well as for students who are receiving payments under loan arrangements for the period between May 2020 and March 2021. She said that the student loan will also be available for international students who are affected by the coronavirus crisis.
What this means is that students, as of May, will be able to apply for an interest-free loan, up to €650, from KfW. Students can receive this loan through an online application which requires no bureaucratic formalities. According to estimations, the loans are set to reach a total amount of up to €1 billion. The Federal Education Ministry will also be providing the German National Association for Student Affairs (DSW), with a total of €100 million estimated for emergency funds in local student services. The money is eligible for those who are suffering from acute hardship and have no other form of support.
“We have already implemented numerous relief measures related to BAföG and scholarships from the German organizations for the promotion of young talent (Begabtenförderungswerke). These provide support not only for existing BAföG recipients but also for new applicants in particular. The new aid measures are open to all other students,” Federal Minister Karliczek said.
Dr Günther Bräunig, CEO of the KfW group claims that he is positive that the new measures will help all students who are financially affected by the coronavirus pandemic. He said that thanks to the loan’s interest-free phase, students will be able to proceed with their studies “even if their part-time work dries up or they receive less support from their parents, who are probably faced with similar difficulties.”
As for the eligibility of the loan and the application period, the Federal Education Ministry informs that all students aged 18-44, enrolled at state-recognized institutions of higher education in Germany, are eligible for the loan if: they are German citizens and registered as living in Germany, dependants of German citizens also living in Germany, EU citizens registered and residing in Germany for at least three years (or their dependants), non-nationals who are registered in Germany and obtained their university entrance qualifications here.
Domestic students will be able to apply for the initially interest-free loan from 8 May while international students will be able to apply from 1 June 2020.
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