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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Family Support Centre

Financial Support

Building Set ToyThe German government offers a variety of benefits for families, including BAföG grants. What’s more, many scholarships have special provisions for students who need to care for family members. In the following, you will find an overview of the various benefits and where you need to go to apply for them.

 

Unemployment benefit

Students who take a semester’s leave (Urlaubssemester) or study part-time (Teilzeitstudium) can apply for social benefits, such as the unemployment benefit (Arbeitslosengeld II). Aside from that, other benefits, such as social assistance (Sozialgeld), may be available to you for your child; full-time students may be eligible for additional needs benefits (Mehrbedarfe).

Recipients of social benefits may also qualify for educational and participatory benefits (see below).

 

BAföG grants

BAföG” stands for Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz, or the German Training Assistance Act, which provides funding for secondary, vocational and higher education.

For BAföG recipients who themselves have children under the age of 14, there is a monthly childcare allowance (Kinderbetreuungszuschlag) of 140 euros per child. Starting in autumn 2020, it will go up to 150 euros per month. Please note: If both parents receive BAföG funding, only one parent can receive the childcare allowance.

In addition, parents may request to receive their BAföG grant for an extended period. It may be extended by one semester for pregnancy, by one semester per year of age until the child turns five, by one semester for a child’s sixth and seventh years, and by one semester for the child’s eighth to tenth years. In future, parents with children aged 10 to 14 will also be able to apply for an extension.

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When a BAföG extension has been granted, it will still be a full grant. In general, it is possible to apply for a funding extension once there is a sufficient proof of academic performance. In the case of a bachelor’s degree, this is usually after the fourth semester – unless the stipulated ECTS credits have not been earned. Once the student files an application for extended funding for the fifth semester, the student must request to defer their performance record due to pregnancy or child rearing. Please note: If the performance record has already been submitted on time after the fourth semester, the periods prior to its submission cannot be considered in the case of a subsequent extension application!

The BAföG funding period can also be extended in order to provide care for a relative. If you have more questions, please contact your BAföG official in charge. Please note that your eligibility for BAföG is suspended as soon as you take leave or switch to a part-time study programme.

 

Assistance from Bundesstiftung Mutter und Kind

Needy parents can apply for funding to pay for basic baby supplies, among other things, from Bundesstiftung Mutter und Kind, a foundation that provides support to expectant mothers and families with financial difficulties. In order to qualify for the funding, you must obtain approval from a certified social counselling office, for example at the studierendenWERK Berlin’s Social Counselling Centre.

 

Parental benefit

The parental benefit (Elterngeld) is a government benefit for the parents of newborns and infants. Parents may apply for it starting on the day of the child’s birth and up to three months after, either on the “Elterngeld Digital” website or in person at the parental benefit office (Elterngeldstelle) of your local youth welfare office (Jugendamt). The benefit is at least 300 euros per month or 67% of the average monthly net income of the past 12 months. If students receive BAföG, the parental benefit of 300 euros does not count towards the educational grant.

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The exact monthly rate of the parental benefit can be calculated with the parental benefit calculator (Elterngeldrechner) provided by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ). The extended parental benefit (ElterngeldPlus) gives parents the option to receive their parental benefit over a longer period of time.

Students without any earned income receive a minimum parental benefit of 300 euros per month. If income is earned, e.g. from a student job, the parental benefit will be based on the usual calculation pursuant to section 2 of the German Parental Benefit and Parental Leave Act (Bundeselterngeld- und Elternzeitgesetz, or BEEG).

In order to receive the parental benefit, students must not suspend their studies. The number of weekly hours they dedicate to their studies is irrelevant. 

 

Erasmus with child

In addition to the usual Erasmus grants, Erasmus exchange students may apply for a childcare allowance (Kinderbetreuungszuschlag) of 200 euros, regardless of the number of children. For more information, please make an appointment for a consultation at the International Office.

 

Financial aid from studierendenWERK Berlin

studierendenWERK Berlin’s Social Counselling Centre can provide financial support to students in specific situations, for instance, in the form of grants at the beginning or the end of their studies. It can also issue bridging loans to students who are experiencing temporary financial hardship. Go to the Social Counselling Centre assigned to you to figure out what kind of aid you are eligible for.

 
Child benefit

From the child’s birth onward, parents can apply for Kindergeld, or the child benefit, at the family benefits office (Familienkasse) of their local branch of the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit). The child benefit is 204 euros per child per month for the first two children. Normally, it is paid out every month for all children until they turn 18, although it can be extended to age 25 if the child is enrolled in a university or trainee programme.

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The child benefit is paid to the person who has custody of the child. In the case of young parents who are entitled to the child benefit, it is possible for them to receive child benefit payments for themselves and their own children at the same time.

The paperwork you need to apply can be found on the Federal Employment Agency website. Detailed information on the child benefit can be found on the Senate Administration (Senatsverwaltung) website.

 

Child allowance

The Kinderzuschlag, or child allowance, is offered as a supplement to the standard child benefit (Kindergeld). It is designed to ensure that low-income families have enough money to secure their living costs. The exact amount of the child allowance is based on the income of the parents and the children (e.g. from maintenance payments), though it cannot exceed 185 euros per child. You can determine whether you may be entitled to the child allowance on the Federal Employment Agency website.

Child allowance recipients can also apply for educational and participatory benefits (see below).

 

Educational and participatory benefits

Families that already receive unemployment benefits, asylum seeker benefits, the child allowance, social assistance, income support or the housing benefit are eligible to apply for educational and participatory benefits (Leistungen für Bildung und Teilhabe), also known as the Bildungspaket or “education package”. This package includes subsidies for everything from school supplies to extracurricular activities, e.g. at a sports club or music school.

In addition, the cost of school trips, school lunches and tutoring or learning aids (Lernförderung) can be completely reimbursed. You can find more information at website of the Familienportal.

 

Maternity benefit

Your health care provider will give you information about Mutterschaftsgeld, or the maternity benefit. Designed to compensate for the loss of earnings, the maternity benefit is provided during the Mutterschutz or “maternity protection” period, when expectant and nursing mothers are legally required to stop working. In order to receive this benefit, the expectant mother must have public health insurance and a valid employment contract at the beginning of said period (i.e. six weeks before the estimated due date).

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The maternity benefit is equivalent to the average take-home pay from the past three completed calendar months before the start of the maternity protection period, but shall not exceed 13 euros per day. If the take-home pay during that period was higher than 13 euros per day, the employer must pay the difference as long as the employment relationship is still valid.

Pregnant students who either have private health insurance or are insured as a dependant under a family plan and are in an employment relationship can apply for a one-off maternity benefit of max. 210 euros with Germany’s Federal Insurance Office.

 

Scholarships

Depending on the scholarship, it may be possible to receive the child allowance, childcare grants or extensions. The website myStipendium.de provides an overview of the scholarships available.

 

Child maintenance or advance child maintenance for children of single parents

Every child has the right to support from both parents. When a child lives with both parents, they provide this support with care, child rearing and money. However, if a child lives with predominantly or only one parent, that parent usually provides more care and child rearing. As a result, the other parent must contribute in the form of child maintenance payments.

The sum is determined on the basis of the Düsseldorfer Tabelle, an index that can be found on the website of Düsseldorf’s Higher Regional Court. Your local youth welfare office can also advise you on child maintenance.

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If the parent who is required to pay child maintenance does not pay or only pays partially or irregularly, or if the father of the child is unknown, your child may be entitled to advance child maintenance. Your local youth welfare office can also advise you on this subject.

Single working parents can receive an income tax credit. If you are in the second tax bracket (Steuerklasse II), you will receive it automatically. You can apply for this status at your local tax office. If you are not sure which is your office, go to the website of the Federal Central Tax Office (Bundeszentralamt für Steuern) to find the one nearest you. In order to obtain second tax bracket status, you must either receive the child benefit (Kindergeld) for your child(ren) or be entitled to the child tax credit (Kinderfreibetrag) instead. In addition, no further of-age person may reside in your household. For more information, please visit familienportal.de.

 

Housing benefit

The housing benefit (Wohngeld) is a government subsidy to help you with your rent. Students can receive the housing benefit if they are not eligible for a BAföG grant, e.g. because they exceeded the regular period of study (Regelstudienzeit) or lost their entitlement to BAföG because they changed their field of study. It is also possible to receive the housing benefit if you take a semester’s leave or are a part-time student. Students who are parents can also receive the housing benefit if they receive a BAföG grant as long as at least one of the family members, e.g. the child, is not entitled to BAföG. In this case, the housing benefit can already be applied for during pregnancy.

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In order to receive the housing benefit, applicants must have a minimum income that does not, however, exceed the upper income limit. The housing benefit calculator (Wohngeldrechner) provided by the Berlin Senate Administration will help you to determine whether you are eligible for this benefit.

Students who do not receive BAföG are not eligible for the housing benefit, either because their parents’ income is too high or they themselves have too much money at their disposal.

You can apply for the housing benefit at your district’s housing office (Wohnungsamt) or citizens’ office (Bürgeramt).

Housing benefit recipients are also eligible to apply for educational and participatory benefits (see above).

 

Semester Ticket subsidy

The Semesterticket, or “semester ticket”, is a transit pass for students which is valid for six months on all forms of public transportation in the ABC local transport zones operated by the Berlin-Brandenburg Transport Consortium (VBB). All students may apply for a semester ticket subsidy from the social fund of the semester ticket office of RefRat, the General Students' Committee. Depending on the student’s financial and social situation – circumstances such as pregnancy, childcare, being a single parent as well as caring for relatives are taken into account – the organisation will decide whether to partially or fully subsidise the cost of the semester ticket.

The application deadlines are January and February for the summer semester and June and July for the winter semester. For both deadlines, there is a grace period of 14 days during which completed applications can still be submitted. Newly enrolled students can submit their applications up to six weeks after enrolling.