Whether you receive BAföG depends on your age, legal residence status and your previous qualifications.
If you have already reached the age of 30 at the beginning of your programme (35 years of age for Master's programmes), in principle, you will not be eligible for BAföG. There are exceptions, however- if:
- you were unable to start or complete your studies, for instance, because of the situation in your home country, or
- you obtained your Abitur in Germany and started university immediately afterwards,
you can apply for BAföG despite being over 30 years of age. You can learn more at bafög.de and in the "BAföG-Ratgeber" section at intez.de.
In principle, if you are legally allowed to reside in Germany -even without a spot in a university- and are registered in a higher education institution, you essentially meet the legal residence requirements for BAföG. That means you cannot apply for BAföG if you have come to Germany on a student visa (§16b Residence Act).
You can find out whether you can apply for BAföG with your residence permit in §8 BAföG. If the paragraph according to which your residence permit is issued is mentioned there, it means you meet the legal residence requirements for BAföG.
If you have fled to Germany, the following applies to you:
- If you are recognised as entitled to asylum, refugee status or subsidiary protection, you can apply for BAföG
- If you have a "national ban on deportation" or "Duldung" or have come to Germany under the family reunification programme, you can only apply for BAföG after 15 months. For the first 15 months of your stay in Germany, you will continue to receive asylum seeker benefits if you start to study.
- If you have a temporary stay permit ("Aufenthaltsgestattung "), i.e. you are still in the asylum procedure, you cannot apply for BAföG. However, you are allowed to study and continue to receive asylum seeker benefits. Please note: If you are later recognised as a person entitled to asylum rights, refugee status or subsidiary protection, you will no longer be entitled to asylum seekers benefits. So the payments will stop immediately. Also, as a student, you will not be entitled to support from the Job Centre. That is why it is best to apply for a so-called "preliminary decision" ("Vorabentscheid") beforehand so that your BAföG application can be decided faster. You can find out more in the section "Where do I apply for BAföG?".
If you have already studied abroad, you can only receive BAföG under certain conditions, i.e. when:
- Your education abroad is not "institutionally equivalent" to studying in Germany. This is the case, for instance, if you only took part in evening classes or part-time programmes abroad. It can also be the case if your studies lasted less than three years or in a programme for which you did not need a university entrance qualification.
- You have a Bachelor's degree and now want to attend a Master's programme.
- You could not finish your studies abroad and now want to continue studying. Please note: If you're going to study another subject, it becomes somewhat more complicated. You can find out more in the section "I did not complete my studies abroad. Can I study another subject?"
- The qualifications you have obtained abroad does not enable you to find an academic profession in Germany (although you could, in principle, work in an academic profession in your home country), and when you were studying abroad, you did not have the right to reside (with one of the residence titles mentioned in §8 BAföG) and study in Germany.
Important: Only students under the doctorate level who do not have another higher degree can receive BAföG. That means you can only get BAföG if you have a Bachelor, Master, state examination (Staatsexam) or Dual Programme certificate. To obtain a doctorate, you need to find other funding options.
You can find out more about existing funding options (and exemptions designated for people with an immigration background) in the "BAföG-Ratgeber" section of INTEZ e.V. It is common for students to get rejected by the BAföG office without sufficient reasons; it is, therefore, essential that you know your rights. And for that, you can benefit from counselling. If your BAföG application is rejected because of your abroad-obtained degree or your desire to change your subject, you can contact the INTEZ association via firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for advice.