BAföG and parental support – do my parents need to finance my studies?
That depends on the individual situation. In the case of parent-independent BAföG, your parents' income does not affect the amount of your BAföG. But also in the case of parents not being able to – or willing to – provide maintenance, BAföG offers individual solutions when your parents' income is taken into account.
1. Parent-independent BAföG (this possibility is always checked by the BAföG Office)
BAföG is granted without your parents' income being taken into consideration if certain conditions are met. The BAföG Office checks if this is the case on the basis of the information provided in the application (past education and employment) and the documents handed in. If the conditions are met, your parents’ income will not be taken into account and you will no longer need to hand in the forms for your parents in future.
There are only three cases in which a course of studies can be supported independent of your parents:
- at least five years of being employed between the age of 17 and the beginning of your studies.
- at least six years of vocational training with subsequent employment; three years vocational training followed by three years of being employed – both before you begin your studies. A shorter period of training can be compensated by a longer period of employment.
- at least 30 years old before beginning your studies; however, be aware of the age limit (FAQs)
Certain details must nonetheless often be clarified (e.g. the exact duration of employment, sufficiently high income during employment). Therefore, it is often not clear whether or not BAföG will be granted independent of your parents. The forms as well as the required documents of your parent are thus generally to be handed in. Should you think that the decision of the BAföG Office is not justified, you can object and the decision will be reviewed. To be on the safe side, your parents should in the meantime submit the required forms and documents – otherwise payments might be delayed and we would be forced to initiate proceedings against your parents.
2. Verification of entitlement to parental support (applying for advance payments - “Vorausleistung”)
If you don't receive parent-independent funding and your parents can’t or won’t pay the amount deducted in your BAföG notification, you can apply for advance payments (“Antrag auf Vorausleistung”, form Formblatt 08). Your entitlement to parental support will then be examined in accordance with civil law and will then, if necessary, be claimed from your parents. You do not need to object to the notification you received from the BAföG Office. In Bavaria, the actual examination of an entitlement to parental support is carried out by the Landesamt für Finanzen.
You can also apply for advance payments if your parents refuse to cooperate, i.e. if they don’t hand in the forms or documents required.
Please note: In general, parents are required to submit the necessary documents – otherwise they might get fined. They cannot simply presume that parent-independent funding will be granted or that their child is no longer entitled to maintenance. That also applies if you have already completed an education. The BAföG Office anyhow checks whether or not parent-independent funding can be granted. Documents proving income are always requested in order to speed up the process if it’s not entirely clear whether or not this is possible.
If you have any questions concerning advance payments, please get in touch with the BAföG Office.
- Advantages: Maintenance proceedings will be entirely taken over by public authorities. Students don’t have to take care of anything, they only need to cooperate. Maintenance is not a loan and does not need to be repaid. Financing your studies will be secured by the advance payments you’ll receive. The risk for your parents is limited to the amount deducted from your BAföG.
- Disadvantages: Maintenance from other persons and child benefit are deducted (if passed on to the students). There is 6 percent interest on overdue maintenance payments – if parental support is officially claimed. Having your entitlement to parental support officially verified can have a negative effect on the relationship to your parents, especially if it comes to legal proceedings. However, this would only be the case after careful consideration of the individual situation verifying that you are indeed entitled to parental support. The application is only valid from the month in which we receive it (within two months after having received your BAföG notification, the application would be backdated). Legal proceedings are restricted to the actual amount of your parents’ income that was deducted in the BAföG notification.
3. Updating your parents’ income (application form - “Aktualisierung”)
Usually, your parents’ income from the calendar year before last is taken into consideration when calculating your BAföG. Should your parents' income have reduced in the meantime (e.g. retirement), it makes sense to apply for having the income adjusted to the current situation (form Formblatt 07). Thus, their actual current income will be taken into account. Parents will then have to estimate their income during the current period of receiving BAföG.
- Advantages: This application can also be backdated if it’s submitted within your current BAföG period. Legal proceedings can be avoided if your parents are capable and willing to pay the newly calculated lower amount.
- Disadvantages: The new amount is granted with the reservation that it may be reclaimed and it is not possible to go back to the original amounts. If your parents misjudge their income – which happens quite frequently! – or provide false information, a certain amount of your BAföG will be reclaimed when ultimately determining the amount. This amount usually has to be paid by the students themselves. Also, if parents give false information, a claim for damages against the parents can arise. This is also the case if information regarding an increase of income was withheld.