I E - Academic Advising Service

Financial aspects

Financial support

Studying with children generally involves a considerable financial burden as well as a lot of extra organization.

Unfortunately students from outside the EU whose residence permit is for studying only, generally have no right to family support (such as parental or child support), as they are required when commencing their studies to prove that their living expenses are covered. This also applies in cases where children are born in Germany during the period of study.

A special exemption applies to students who have refugee status. Different rules apply for students already granted official refugee status than for those still waiting to receive official refugee status. Your legal status is decisive on this issue.

Please contact the Social Counselling Centre of Studierendenwerk Berlin who advise all international students on options for financial support.

Parental leave & parental benefit

In Germany, it is possible for both parents to take parental leave after the birth of their child. You can find further information on the duration and possibilities for financial support here.

During parental leave, you will not receive a salary from your employer. However, you can apply for parental allowance, a form of financial support from the government that compensates you if you temporarily work less or not at all after the birth of your child.

Foreign parents can also receive parental allowance. The nationality is important here:
If you come from another state of the European Union (EU) or from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, then you can generally receive parental allowance in Germany if you live or work here. Students from non-EU countries who, irrespective of their studies, have a residence permit that entitles them to work, can claim family benefits too. Here you can find more information on parental allowance and ElterngeldPlus (parental allowance Plus). You can find also more details on the family portal or ask your parental allowance office.

Students from non-EU countries are not entitled to family benefits (parental allowance, child allowance, advance on child support) if they have a residence permit for study purposes (§ 16b AufenthG). An exception applies to students with a residence permit according to § 16b AufenthG from Turkey, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia who are covered by German social insurance (e.g. health or accident insurance). Students from these four countries can generally claim family benefits, since students are generally insured free of charge in the statutory accident insurance.

Since parental allowance is reviewed on a case-by-case basis, it may still be worthwhile to try to apply for it. All international students from non-EU countries as well as refugee students should therefore first contact the Social Counseling Service of the Berliner Studierendenwerk for advice on what financial support, if any, they can receive.

Semester Ticket

If you find yourself in financial difficulties and cannot pay the Semesterticket, you might be elgible for a grant. However, this process is independent from the normal re-registration, which means you will have to pay first and receive the usual student ID card, which can be used for public transport. If your application is successful, you will be reimbursed for a part, or possibly all of the Semesterticket costs. More information about the semester ticket as well as various application forms can be found here.

The time period for applications for grants from the social fund ends with re-registration (for students who re-register), or two weeks after re-registration (for first-year students).

To obtain a grant, you have to meet all of the following requirements:

  • a social hardship that keeps you from paying the contribution
  • a monthly income which does not exceed your basic needs
  • and no savings or wealth.

A 'social hardship' might encompass:

  • writing your final thesis
  • an unpaid, or only low-pay internship
  • a restricted work permit for international students
  • being a single-parent 
  • a costly diet necessary because of disability or illness
  • pregnancy 
  • a reduction in earning capacity
  • integration grant ('Eingliederungshilfe') in case of a disability 
  • at least one of your children receives the job-seeker's allowance ALG II
  • a specifically low income 
  • high costs for medical treatment
  • costs for paying off loans, or debt

The amount of money granted depends not only on your stated circumstances, but also on the number of successful applications and the funds available. The more students receive a social grant, the lower is the individual amount. The relation between income and need, the length of time that the social hardship lasts, and the total sum of the financial obligations are all taken into consideration. If you are planning to apply, always visit the Semesterticket Office beforehand for advice.