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What students in Germany should know about the €200 energy payout

At a cabinet meeting on Friday, German ministers waved through plans to offer a €200 lump sum to support students and trainees with higher energy bills. Here's what we know so far.

Students sit in a lecture at Hanover University.
Students sit in a lecture at Hanover University. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Julian Stratenschulte

What’s happening?

Students in Germany can look forward to a bit of extra cash in the near future after ministers green-lit proposals for a €200 energy relief payout. 

Details of the one-off payment for students were originally set out in the government’s third energy relief package, which included a range of measures to help the population with the rising cost of living.

Students are the third group to receive a lump sum for their energy bills. In September, employees in Germany received €300 on top of their usual wages, while pensioners are also set to get a €300 payout by December 15th.

Who’s eligible for the payment – and when can they get it? 

Around 3.4 million students enrolled in programmes at a university or technical college will be eligible for the payout, provided they have their main residence in Germany. Technical colleges, or Fachhochschulen, are specialised universities where teachers, engineers and business administrators are trained. 

Regardless of whether students are undertaking an academic or vocational programme, the main criterion for eligibility will be that they are enrolled at a higher education institute by December 1st this year. 

So far, the Ministry of Education hasn’t set a fixed date for students to receive the money, but is setting its sights on early 2023. 

READ ALSO: When will people in Germany get their December gas bill payout?

How do students and trainees get it?

Unlike the energy relief payments for employees and pensioners this year, students won’t receive their €200 payment automatically. 

Instead, the Education Ministry is working to create a digital platform where students can apply for the money. It is still a bit up in the air when students will be able to submit their claims or when the deadline will be. 

Following approval from the cabinet, politicians will have to vote on the measure in the Bundestag. But with the traffic-light coalition of the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Free Democrats (FDP) holding a majority of seats there, it’s expected to pass without any issues. 

Why are students receiving financial support?

With inflation soaring to record levels in recent months, many students – who often rely on minimum-wage jobs and so-called Bafög grants – have been struggling to make ends meet.

On Wednesday, data released by the Federal Office of Statistics revealed that 38 percent of students in Germany were at risk of falling below the poverty line last year.

People who earn less than 60 percent of the median income in Germany are considered to be at risk of poverty, according to the EU.

Since low-income households are disproportionately affected by the rising cost of living, the government has pledged to step in with additional financial support. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: 10 ways to save money on your groceries in Germany

What are people saying?

Speaking to Handelsblatt on Friday, the German Student Union hit out at the government for dragging its feet on the payout since deciding on the measure in September. 

Many students need the money now because of exploding prices, secretary general Matthias Anbuhl explained. He said the Bundestag must now pass the one-off payment quickly and the money must be paid out as soon as possible.

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COST OF LIVING

Most Germans ‘cutting back spending’ amidst soaring inflation

A new survey has found that 63 percent of consumers in Germany are spending less - including on everyday essentials like groceries - due to record-high inflation.

Most Germans 'cutting back spending' amidst soaring inflation

With inflation having broken yet another post-war record in October, at 10.4 percent, many consumers in Germany are cutting back even on essential costs.

A new survey from the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZBV) finds 63 percent of consumers here have cut back their spending in general due to high inflation, while another 20 percent on top of that said they haven’t cut back yet but expect to have to soon.

With the price of some foods having gone up much higher than the average rate of inflation, 61 percent say they’ve reduced spending on groceries. Consumers have taken measures like buying cheaper butter – which has gone up 50 percent in price. At the same time, dairy and eggs have gone up by around 28 percent and meat and grains by about 20 percent.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: 10 ways to save money on your groceries in Germany

Almost as many, or about 56 percent, are spending less on clothing. Around a third are driving and flying less as well.

The cutbacks also have consumers thinking about long-term changes to their spending, even after inflation comes do. Many cite ongoing efforts to fight climate change as a major reason. 75 percent intend to spend less on clothing over the longer term, and wear existing things longer. 60 percent are looking at buying energy-saving devices.

45 percent of consumers are also looking to repair defective devices rather than buy new ones, but expect certain guarantees from manufacturers, including that a mobile phone would last for five years.

READ ALSO: Has Germany’s sky-high inflation finally peaked?

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