Parental Maintenance

Most students in Germany get some form of financial support from their parents during their degree. But are parents even required to pay for their children’s studies? And, if so, how much and for how long? And what are the options if parents are unable or unwilling to pay or have no contact with their children?

01.

Maintenance obligation

Parents are legally required to pay maintenance to their children – even those over 18 – during their initial education, i.e. including during a degree program. This maintenance obligation applies whether or not the parents agree with their child’s choice of degree program.

02.

Maintenance amount

The amount of maintenance to be paid depends on what the parents can afford and whether the child still lives at home or elsewhere. The so-called Düsseldorfer Tabelle provides some good guidance on how much maintenance parents will need to pay.  

03.

Duration of the maintenance obligation

The maintenance obligation lasts until the child has completed their first higher education degree. It will also apply to a postgraduate degree if its content is related to that of the first degree and is started soon after the first degree is finished. There is no set upper age limit in Germany.

Family allowance

If your parents have applied for family allowance for you, this can continue to be paid even after your 18th birthday until you turn 24, provided that you are still studying. You will need to prove this to the Family Benefits Office every semester by submitting a “certificate of enrollment,” which you will receive from the University of Bonn together with your semester paperwork.

You can also apply to the Family Benefits Office for family allowance yourself if your parents do not do so or fail to pay maintenance despite being required to do so.

Educational assistance from the government: BAföG

If your parents are unable to provide enough financial support and you yourself or your spouse do not have sufficient assets or income of your own, the state will help to finance your studies by paying BAföG. Whether and how much BAföG you will receive every month will depend on your personal circumstances and the rates set for your particular situation. It is therefore always a good idea to apply to the Amt für Ausbildungsförderung (Studierendenwerk Bonn) for BAföG so that your individual entitlement to support can be reviewed.

Careleavers and students without contact to their parents

For care leavers (young people leaving a residential care setting) and other students who have no contact with their parents, applying for educational assistance to be paid out in advance can be a way of claiming an existing entitlement to support. Section 36 BAföG (known as “Form 8”) obligates the Amt für Ausbildungsförderung to approve BAföG – i.e. pay it out in advance – before proceeding to obtain information on the parents’ income itself.

An application can also be made if parents refuse to provide any details of their income situation or do not pay the maintenance that they are required to, thus putting their child’s studies at risk.

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