Special regulations regarding BAföG

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For students with a disability or chronic illness, studying is generally more time-consuming and often involves greater financial difficulties. For this reason, there are some special regulations when financing your studies with BAföG, regarding:

  1. income
  2. assets
  3. the duration of your studies
  4. exceeding the age limit and
  5. a possible necessary change of subject area

No increase in BAföG itself

Disabilities are not taken into account regarding the amount of BAföG support. Thus, additional financial support for more expensive study material cannot be granted. Additional financial support may, however, be available in accordance with other regulations, which will then not be deducted from your BAföG, e.g.:

  • “Eingliederungshilfe” (integration aid, e.g. Braille literature, readers) in accordance with § 54 SGB XII
  • additional support to cover basic needs or expensive nutrition in accordance with § 30 (4) and (5) SGB XII

The public authorities in charge of the SGB XII are responsible for this additional support.

1. Income

Upon applying for a “Härtefreibetrag” (§ 25 (6)  BAföG), the disability of a parent or husband/wife can be taken into account regarding the income normally deducted from BAföG, as is also the case in income tax regulations (“außergewöhnliche Belastungen” in accordance with §§ 33 - 33b EStG).

Applying for a “Härtefreibetrag” is also possible if the parents or a husband/wife are responsible for financially supporting a disabled person. (§ 25 (6) BAföG).

Disability of a student can be taken into account when repayments have to be made on the BaföG loan (§ 18a (1) s. 6 BAföG). Applications should be made to the Federal Office of Administration, which is responsible for loan repayments.

2. Assets

In some cases, it is possible to apply for a “Härtefreibetrag” regarding assets being deducted (§ 29 (3) BAföG):

In accordance with this regulation, this is possible if (...)

b) the savings are intended to alleviate the consequences of a physical or mental disability or to cover future costs that will presumably ensue as a result of physical injury,

c) the savings are evidently intended for the imminent purchase or upkeep of property in accordance with § 88 (2) no.7 BSHG, which specifically meets the needs of the disabled person or person in need of care, and that this would be endangered should the savings be reduced.

3. The duration of your studies

A disability can be taken into consideration in two different ways regarding the duration of financial support:

  • The “Leistungsnachweis” (evidence of academic achievement) can be handed in at a later stage. Normally, at the beginning of the 5th semester, students have to hand in proof  that they have successfully completed the usual academic achievements up to this point. (This is confirmed by the university, which considers the average student and cannot take a disability into account). Should reasons exist which will presumably entitle the student to a longer period of financial support (see below), the Educational Assistance Office may permit the Leistungsnachweis to be handed in at a later stage (§ 48 (2) in conjunction with § 15 (3) no. 5 BAföG).
  • Also, support may be granted for a period exceeding the maximum period of support (§ 15 (3). no. 5 BAföG), if this delay results from the disability. In this case, all of the financial support is a grant (not 50% grant, 50% loan, as is usually the case)!

Additionally, under certain conditions, all students are entitled to “support for completing your studies” even after they have reached the maximum period of support, provided they have been admitted to the final exam(s) (however, only as a loan). This may also help to successfully complete your studies.

4. Exceeding the age limit

A disability can be a reason for financial support being granted even if the normal age limit of 30 years when beginning your studies has been exceeded (§ 10 (3) s. 2 no. 3 BAföG). The disability, however, must be the main cause for starting your studies only at this stage.

5. Change of subject area

A disability incurred during your time at university, e.g. as a result of an accident, can in some cases be an 'irrefutable reason' in accordance with § 7 (3) s. 1 no. 2 BAföG) to change your subject area. In contrast to an 'important reason', an 'irrefutable reason' can be declared in any semester. Support for the new subject area is continued in the form of 50% grant and 50% loan (in the case of an 'important reason', the “lost” semesters are supported only by loans).

Before changing your subject area, it is very important to first get in touch with the Educational Assistance Office, as you will lose your right to support completely should the legal requirements not be met.