The traffic light government has launched part of its planned Bafög reform. According to the Cabinet decision, the Bafög rate is to increase from 427 to 449 euros per month. Photo: Andrea Warnecke/ dpa
The circle of possible recipients will also be expanded by an increase in parental allowances. The law still has to be passed by the Bundestag and the Bundesrat.
Bafög maximum amount should rise to 931 euros
The reform specifically provides for the Bafög rate for students to increase from 427 to 449 euros per month. If you no longer live with your parents, you will also get 360 instead of 325 euros for the rent. Students in a shared flat could thus get 809 euros instead of 725 euros so far. Students who are no longer covered by family insurance through their parents and who also receive supplements for health and long-term care insurance through the Bafög could reach a Bafög maximum amount of 931 instead of 861 euros in the future.
The background for the reform is the continuous decline in the number of Bafög recipients over the past ten years. After a peak of 979,000 (including student Bafög) in 2012, the number was only 639,000 last year. According to the Deutsches Studentenwerk (DSW), the reasons for this are, among other things, that the service has not been sufficiently reformed, expanded and adapted to new realities of life over the years. “We now want to turn the trend around and finally increase the number of Bafög recipients again,” Federal Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger (FDP) told the DSW Journal of the German Student Union.
Higher additional earnings limit planned
In order to increase the number of recipients, 2400 euros of the monthly parental income should remain free of charge in the future. So far it is 2000 euros. And students should be able to earn 330 euros in a part-time job, without this having any effect on the Bafög amount – at the moment it is still 290 euros. In addition to the increase in Bafög rates and allowances, it is also planned to increase the childcare surcharge for students with children from 150 to 160 euros – the money is intended for babysitters, for example, if courses are in the evening.
In addition, the age limit of 30 years at the start of Bafög is to be raised to 45 years, so that studies can also be taken up later. Support is also to be increased for pupils and trainees. Students who live abroad can get about 629 instead of 585 euros as before.
The goal is more parent-independent Bafög
According to the plans of the traffic light coalition, this reform is only the first step. The Bafög is to become more “parent-independent” in the long term by paying out the basic child insurance planned by the SPD, Greens and FDP directly to students – as a “basic plinth of student financing,” as Stark-Watzinger said. The education policy spokeswoman of the Green Group, Nina Stahr, spoke of “a major reform of the Bafög”. They are tackling what the old government had failed to do for years.
Criticism came from the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB). The planned increase in rates and the housing subsidy were by no means sufficient, said DGB vice Elke Hannack. “We expect the coalition to follow up properly here in the parliamentary procedure.” The DGB demanded a flat-rate increase in Bafög rates by 150 euros.