The term BAföG is short for Federal Education Funding Act (“Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz”). It is a state-funded financial aid programme for undergraduate students. In general, every German and some foreign students can apply if they themselves or their parents don’t have the financial means to support their university studies. Since, in principle, the students cannot receive support from the Jobcentre or Social Welfare Office, BaföG plays an essential role in enabling them to continue their studies.
Funding consists of two equal parts: a grant and a zero-interest government loan. That means that after you finish your studies, you will only have to pay back half of the money you received and at no interest. You can only receive BAföG for a standard period of study (“Regelstudienzeit”). The length of this period depends on your subject and university. If you need more time to finish your studies, you can apply for an extension. However, this might only be granted for a semester or two.