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Germany opens applications for €200 student energy payout

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Germany opens applications for €200 student energy payout
A student takes notes on their reading material in a lecture hall in Bremen. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sina Schuldt

Students in Germany can apply for a one-off €200 energy allowance from Wednesday - but so far the process has been marred with technical difficulties and long waiting times.

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Back in 2022, Education Ministry had promised students they would be able to claim their €200 payment "before the end of winter" - a deadline it has kept with just five days to spare. 

Following the launch on Wednesday, students with a governmental BundID account can submit an application for their energy lump-sum on the ministry's Einmalzahlung200 website. 

Around 3.5 million vocational and university students are believed to be eligible for the €200 payment, which is intended to support people in higher education with the soaring cost of living.

Speaking to DPA, Education Minister Bettina Stark-Walzinger (FDP) hailed the "automated procedure" developed by her ministry and pledged that applications would be processed "quickly" after they were submitted. 

READ ALSO: German students call on government to 'deliver' on €200 energy payout

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However, the long-awaited launch of the portal was overshadowed by teething problems and technical hiccups on Wednesday.

Due to the high volume of traffic, the site crashed for a number of hours in the morning, with the homepage replaced by an error message.

People hoping to apply for their payment also reported being placed in digital waiting rooms for several minutes before they were able to access the forms. 

There were also reports that people had faced difficulties when attempting to log in using their BundID, while other students said they had not received the code they needed from their institution in order to access the form.

The German Student Union - which has been pressuring the government to pay out the lump sum for several months - responded angrily to news of the botched launch.

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The ministry has tested students' patience to the limit, student Union chairman Matthias Anbuhl told DPA. "Winter will soon be over, and it is high time that this help reaches the students," he added.

Criticism also came from the opposition benches, with CDU/CSU education policy spokesperson Thomas Jarzombek describing the roll-out as a "disaster".

"After more than half a year of waiting for this 'immediate support programme', there is no reason to cheer," he said, adding that the Education Minister should apologise to those affected.

According to the Education Ministry, the portal was successfully tested on both a federal and state level with "thousands of students" ahead of the launch. 

Energy relief for students

The €200 energy allowance was originally announced by the traffic-light coalition of the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Free Democrats (FDP) back in September. 

It was part of a package of measures designed to help people with the higher cost of living, which has been largely driven by spiralling energy costs.

After promising a "quick and unbureaucratic" delivery of the €200 payout, the ministry quickly ran into issues when it discovered it had no centralised data on students in Germany that would allow them to issue the payment. 

Duisburg university NRW

Students walk on the campus of Duisburg University in North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Roland Weihrauch

Since then, the Education Ministry has been scrambling to set up an online portal where students can apply for the money. 

The application process requires a BundID - which can be set up using electronic resident permit, eID card or Elster certificate - and an access code from a higher education institution in Germany.

According to the government, all students who were registered at a university or tech college in Germany on December 1st last year are eligible for the relief - even if they received other payments, like the €300 employee lump sum, last year. 

READ ALSO: How students can apply for the €200 energy payment in Germany

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