Special Regulations regarding BAföG

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Studying is in general more time-consuming and often involves greater financial difficulties for students with a disability or chronic illness. Therefore, when financing your studies with BAföG, there are some special regulations regarding:

  1. income
  2. assets
  3. 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 students receive. Thus, additional financial support for more expensive study material cannot be granted. Additional financial support may, however, be available in accordance with other regulations and not be deducted from your BAföG, for example:

  • “Eingliederungshilfe” (integration aid, e.g. Braille literature, reading assistance) in accordance with § 54 SGB XII
  • additional support to cover basic expenses or more 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 spouse can be taken into account regarding the income normally deducted from your BAföG; the amount corresponds to the amount granted with income tax regulations (“außergewöhnliche Belastungen” in accordance with §§ 33 - 33b EStG).

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

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

2. Assets

In certain cases it is possible to apply for a “Härtefreibetrag” regarding the amount of assets being deducted (§ 29 (3) BAföG):

In accordance with this regulation, that’s possible if (...)

b) the assets 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 assets 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 if this would be endangered by a reduction of assets.

3. Duration of your studies

There are two points where a disability can be taken into consideration regarding the duration of financial support:

  • The “Leistungsnachweis” (proof of academic achievement) can be handed in at a later stage. Normally, at the beginning of the 5th semester, students need to hand in proof  that they have achieved the usual results up to this point in their studies. (This is confirmed by the university, which assumes 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 BAföG Office may permit the student to hand in their Leistungsnachweis 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, the entire amount of financial support is a grant (not 50% grant, 50% loan, as is usually the case until the maximum duration of support has been reached)!

Under certain conditions, all students are also entitled to “Hilfe zum Studienabschluss” (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 might 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 age limit has been exceeded when beginning your studies (§ 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. resulting from an accident, can possibly be accepted as an “irrefutable reason” in accordance with § 7 (3) s. 1 no. 2 BAföG to change your subject area. Other than a “serious reason”, an “irrefutable reason” can be put forward in any semester. Support for the new subject area will then continue as 50% grant and 50% loan (in the case of merely a “serious reason”, the “lost” semesters will only be supported by a loan).

Before you change your subject area, please get in touch with the BAföG Office, as you will no longer be entitled to any support at all should the legal requirements not be met.