International students: How to apply for new interest-free loans in Germany

International students: How to apply for new interest-free loans in Germany
Students taking a break between classes at the University of Tübingen. Photo: DPA
The coronavirus pandemic has hit many workers hard, and especially students, many of whom rely on part-time jobs alongside their studies. But now extra help is on the way.

As of June 1st, all foreign students within Germany have been able to apply for financial aid to help facilitate their studies. 

The application form for the interest-free loan of up to €650 per month has been available since May 8th for German students, whereas for Germany’s nearly 400,000 international students it opened at the beginning of June. 

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Students can receive the loan – which is issued in payments of at least €100 per month – through an online application available on the website of state bank KfW

Students can then receive the loan for up to 14 semesters, or up to 54,600. 

READ ALSO: 10 words that perfectly sum up being a student in Germany

Who’s eligible for the loans?

According to Germany’s Federal Education Ministry, all students between the ages of 18 and 44 who are enrolled at state-recognised institutions of higher education in Germany are eligible for the loan if: 

  • They are German citizens and registered as living in Germany
  • Dependents of German citizens also living in Germany
  • EU citizens registered and residing in Germany for at least three years (or their dependents)
  • Non-nationals who are registered in Germany and obtained their university entrance qualifications here.
  • All foreign-nationals registered as living in Germany (an exception made during the corona pandemic)
  • The loans are for those currently studying for their bachelor’s, master's, doctoral and postdoctoral studies. The length of the grant also depends on the age of the student.

According to Education Ministry estimates, the loans are set to reach a total amount of up to €1 billion.

Working while studying

Around two-thirds of students in Germany work while studying, according to Federal Education Minister Anja Karliczek. 

That number is even higher for international students, of which around three-quarters are dependent on part-time jobs. 

According to a poll conducted by educational website Studying-in-Germany.org, 90 percent of international students in Germany say they’ve been affected during the corona crisis. 

“Especially after the lockdown, the majority of students lost their jobs and so this led to financial uncertainty for German foreign students,” Njomza Zeqiri, a higher education expert, told The Local.

Rules for working while studying

Students coming from outside of EU member states are permitted to work part-time, either 240 half days or 120 full days, according to Zeqiri.

Self-employment, however, can be permitted only upon request and in individual cases, based on what’s approved by the foreigner’s office (or Ausländerbehörde). 

If a student is in a language or preparatory course, the rules are more strict, said Zeqiri.

They are only allowed work during lecture-free periods, and only if they obtain permission from both the Federal Employment Agency (Agentur für Arbeit) and the Ausländerbehörde.


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