Germany’s Federal Cabinet has approved proposed reforms to Germany’s Federal Training Aid Act (BAföG), which is a 50-year-old publicly funded program that allows young people in Germany to choose the right training to their personal interests, regardless of their financial situation.
The reform, among other things, aims to increase payments for beneficiaries by 20% and also to raise the age of those eligible to apply in a bid by the authorities to allow more people to benefit from the BAföG.
The approval of the reform was applauded by the German Minister of Education and Research, Bettina Stark-Watzinger.
“Today we have laid the foundations of the BAföG to enable more real participation in the best education again… Today we have laid the foundations to make BAföG more attractive, modern and flexible and to enable more real participation in the best education again.she said as she announced the approval of the proposal.
According to the Ministry of Education and Research, the planned changes to the BAföG are as follows:
- increase income allowances by 20% for each student in an effort to broaden the reach of the BAföG
- increase the requirement rates, child care allowances and housing allowances so that the maximum amount of the allowance increases from the current €861 to €931
- the age limit will increase from 35 years old for entry into a master’s degree to 45 years old uniformly
- the possibility of waiving residual debt after twenty years to all borrowers will be extended
- an arrangement will be made to waive the residual debt under simplified conditions and without a complicated application procedure
The changes will take place at the start of the winter semester 2022/2023.
The reform did not satisfy everyone. Deutsches Studentenwerk (DSW) General Secretary Matthias Anbuh says the BAföG plans have one weakness, namely the far too low increase in BAföG requirement rates of just 5%.
“Inflation immediately absorbs this increase. It was already more than seven percent in March 2022. At this point, the federal government is far from up to the task. It must not impose any loss of purchasing power on students. The BAföG requirement rates must be increased by at least ten percent. The BAföG must really be enough to live onnotes Secretary-General Anbuhclaims.
He also calls on the authorities to take bigger steps towards the reform of the BAföG, which he says should be undertaken immediately, such as the independent parent component of basic child security, the extension of the funding period maximum, a reduction in the share loan or the emergency mechanism announced in the coalition agreement.
According to deutsche-handwerks-zeitung.de, between 2012 and 2021, the number of students benefiting from the BAföG fell from 979,000 beneficiaries in 2012 to just 639,000 beneficiaries last year. Besides German students, foreigners living in Germany can also benefit from the BAföG, given that they have integrated into society and have prospects of staying in Germany.
>> Germany: Prices for shared rooms for students are rising and even higher prices are expected in September