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Student finance

BAföG - state funding for students in Germany

BAföG ensures equal opportunities in the German higher education system. This federal legislation has established a needs-based grants and loans system that provides state funding for students since 1971 and proved itself millions of times. Thanks to BAföG, almost four million students were given access to higher education. Today, one quarter of all students rely on BAföG for their academic studies.

BAföG (the “Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz” or Federal Education and Training Assistance Act)  is intended to enable young people to choose a study programme that suits their skills and interests. BAföGfunding is needs-based. It is granted if the prospective student’s own financial means or those of his or her parents or spouse or partner are insufficient for this purpose.

  Half of the BAföG financial support is usually a grant, the remaining half an interest-free loan. A ceiling guarantees that students only need to repay a maximum of EUR 10,000 of the total loan amount. 

According to the 20th Social Survey carried out by Deutsches Studentenwerk, 24 per cent of all students in Germany received BAföG in the summer semester 2012.

Knowledge about study financing has a major influence on the decision whether to take up studies or not. In recent years, BAföG has ensured that prospective students from low-income families did indeed enrol for a programme at a higher education institution. When BAföG was introduced in 1971, there was cross-party consensus that it would help achieve two aims of the social welfare state:

  • The creation of equal opportunities
  • The mobilisation of skill reserves