financial aid
German Minister of Education and Research Anja Karliczek smiles next to a board during an informative visit dedicated to the research on the new coronavirus on May 18, 2020 at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) in Bonn. Source: Martin Meissner/POOL /AFP

Ninety percent of international students in Germany depend financially on part-time jobs, notes a poll by This makes the current financial aid being offered by the country a welcome relief to affected students.

Federal Education Minister Anja Karliczek announced on April 30 that students could request for interest-free loans of up to 650 euros a month from German state-owned development bank KfW. 

The KfW Student Loan is a low-interest loan offered by the KfW banking group that was launched in 2006. In light of the pandemic, it is currently being offered interest-free until March 31 next year. 

“We will open up the student loan to those international students who are particularly affected by the current crisis from July 2020 until March 2021,” said the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in its website.

The ministry said they will also provide the German National Association for Student Affairs (DSW) with 100 million euros to be put into local student services emergency funds. 

DSW is a voluntary association of Germany’s 57 student services organisations.

This will be used to help students who can prove that they are suffering from particularly acute hardship, who need immediate help and who do not have access to other forms of support. 

“Around two-thirds of students in Germany work alongside their degree, for international students this number is even higher — around three-quarters. Many of these students will now be able to apply for additional funding under the Federal Training Assistance Act (BAföG) to compensate for their lost income,” Karliczek said.

German universities are nearly free for international students to attend, making it highly a highly attractive location for many.

Some of the part-time jobs typically undertaken by students include bartending, babysitting or tutoring, notes Study in Germany.

International students are permitted to work 120 full days or 240 half-days per year to help support their living expenses.

Financial aid in the form of interest-free loans for international students

financial aid

Check how much you need for your expenses before applying for a loan. Source: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP

For the purposes of the interim financial aid, the ministry said the group of recipients eligible for the standard KfW student loan will be expanded temporarily. 

Some key information for international students who are interested in applying for the interest-free loan include:

  • All foreign students in Germany between 18 and 44-years-old and with a registered address in Germany, regardless of their nationality and the duration of their stay in Germany, can apply for the loan
  • International students can apply for the loan online from June 1, 2020 until Feb. 15, 2021
  • The loan can be used to fund your living expenses, regardless if you’re an undergraduate or postgraduate student studying on a part-time or full-time basis
  • Programmes at distance learning universities are also possible, while semesters spent abroad are also eligible for financing as long as the student remains enrolled at a state or state-recognised tertiary institution in Germany

To apply for financial aid:

  • Fill out the online application form
  • Print out the contract offer and visit one of their distribution partners. Have a valid and official ID document (e.g. identity card, personal ID, passport) and your certificate of study — both must be valid on the day the financing begins
  • Non-EU citizens must have a valid student visa and/or residence permit, in addition to proof of a current account (e.g. by presenting a bank card or a bank statement).
  • Students will sign their documents with the distribution partner, who will then forward it to KwF together with a copy of their identification documents.
  • KfW will need about two weeks for the review. Students can expect a reply by post

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