12 Oct

Newsletter with infos about BAföG, Hartz IV, heating costs, Entlastungspaketen & Co. Social advising WiSe 2022/23

Dear fellow students,

We welcome you with our new newsletter from the AStA TU BAföG- und Sozialberatung [1] in the winter semester 2022! We advise students in solidarity and in a partisan manner on issues related to student financing and the like. In our new newsletter we want to inform you about news and changes around the topics of the AStA consultations bundled.

First of all, we would like to inform you about two info events (online), which we hold as usual at the beginning of each semester (the events will be in german!):

Introductory event BAföG: Thursday 20.10. 12-13:30, online.
From BAföG access requirements to extension options, everything is covered and therefore also interesting for later semesters.
Link: https://conference.astatu.berlin/bafoeg.veranstaltung

Alternative financing of studies: Friday 21.10. 16-17:30, online
Not entitled to BAföG? This event will be about alternatives to Bafög (housing allowance, Hartz IV, scholarships,…).
Link: https://conference.astatu.berlin/bafoeg.veranstaltung

*The information events on student financing are held in German. If you have questions and do not speak German, please come to our counseling service! https://asta.tu-berlin.de/en/social-and-bafoeg-advising/*

Note: Jitsi is a privacy-oriented tool for video conferencing. You don’t need to download an app, you can participate directly in the browser. It works best via Firefox or Chrome/Chromium and on a laptop (not mobile).

Also, quick notes on two important topics that are probably affecting many of you right now: What to do if your electricity/gas bills are too high? You can find answers to this in our article [2], but also under the points 2. Hartz IV and 4. “Relief packages” – what does that mean for students?

For students who have fled Ukraine (not only with Ukrainian passports), we have compiled information about residence situations, social benefits, studying in Germany, other sources of information and counseling centers. You can find them in German, English, Ukrainian and Russian. [3]

Attention to all those who have not yet received BAföG: be sure to read the article on BAföG in the newsletter, because perhaps you are one of those who are now entitled to BAföG due to the increased age, asset or income limits!

We wish you – despite everything – a good start of the semester!
Your BAföG and Social Counseling

Newsletter overview:

1. BAföG
1.1 Bafög reform – more students get BAföG
1.2 “System-relevant” income
1.3 50 years of BAföG – no reason to celebrate!
1.4 Ruling of the Federal Administrative Court on higher standard rates
1.5 Heating cost subsidy for BAföG recipients

2 Hartz IV
2.1 When nothing works – Hartz IV as a student
2.2 Heating cost subsidy
2.3 Simplified application until Dec 31 2022
2.4 Hartz IV claim due to high energy costs and bills

3. housing allowance (Wohngeld)
3.1 Housing allowance for students
3.2 Increase from 2023
3.3 Heating cost subsidy

4. “Relief packages” (Entlastungspakete) – what does that mean for students?
4.1 Energy price package (Energiepreispauschale) of 300 EUR for all who were employed
4.2 200 EUR for all students

5. help to start/finish studies (Studienstart/Studienabschlusshilfe) application until 15.10.!
6. semester ticket office
7. international counseling
8. university counseling (Hochschul- und Studienberatung)
8.1 Important information for exams in WiSe 2022/23
8.2 Part-time studies for all


1. BAföG

    1.1 Bafög Reform – more students get BAföG

With the 27th BAföG-Änderungsgesetz (BAföG Amendment Act) some things will change from the winter semester 22/23. Even if we criticize that the changes come too late and fall short: it can be worthwhile for you to apply for BAföG now! It is best to check the BAföG calculator [4]as soon as possible and submit an application.

    The changes in brief:

    1) The BaföG maximum rate increases for students only by 5.75%. Instead of 752 EUR there can be up to 812 EUR per month BAföG in the future.

    2) The age limit for BAföG increases to 45 years!

    3) The asset allowance is increased to 15,000 EUR or 45,000 EUR (from 30 years).

    4) The childcare allowance for your kids is now 160 EUR per month.

    5) Secondary job and BAföG: your mini-job remains exempt from BAföG up to 520 EUR!

    6) The income allowance for your parents increases by 20.75%!

More detailed information and criticism can be found here [5]

1.2 “System-relevant” income

If you have a job that is classified as “system-relevant” due to the pandemic or if you work more hours due to the pandemic, the additional “system-relevant” income will not be counted as income in the BAföG until at least the end of December 2022. You will need a certificate from your employer proving this. This allows you to earn significantly more than the 6240 EUR per year from October without this being counted towards your BAföG (also applies retroactively in some cases).

Here you can read the updated regulation under 8. (german): https://www.xn--bafg-7qa.de/bafoeg/de/home/_documents/keine-nachteile-beim-bafoeg-wegen-corona.html
Further information (german): https://asta.tu-berlin.de/artikel/weiterhin-keine-anrechnung-des-systemrelevanten-einkommens-im-bafoeg/

1.3 50 years of BAföG – no reason to celebrate!

Still up-to-date, among other things because the increased BAföG rates do not even compensate for inflation: We as AStA TU support the campaign “50 years BAföG – (no) reason to celebrate!” for an urgently needed and fundamental reform of BAföG! You can read the demands of the campaign here [6].

Further information (german): https://asta.tu-berlin.de/pressemitteilung/50-jahre-bafog-kein-grund-zu-feiern/

1.4 Ruling of the Federal Administrative Court on higher standard rates

Due to a ruling of the Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht) on May 20, 2021, it seems possible that the BAföG standard rates are unconstitutional (because they are too low). In order to get your money back in case of a possible unconstitutionality, we recommend that you file an objection (Widerspruch) to every new BAföG decision within the 4-week period in order to benefit from a possible retroactive increase later on.

You can find more information here: https://asta.tu-berlin.de/artikel/bundesverwaltungsgerichts-urteil-ermoeglicht-widerspruch-fuer-mehr-bafoeg  [7]

1.5 Heating cost subsidy for BAföG recipients

Due to rapidly rising energy prices, the German Cabinet approved an additional heating cost subsidy for students receiving BAföG between September 2022 and December 2022. The allowance amounts to a one-time payment of EUR 345, regardless of income, maintenance, etc., and is expected to be paid automatically at the end of 2022/beginning of 2023. Students who have received BAföG between October 2021 and March 2022 should already have received the grant from the Relief Package I of a one-time 230 EUR.

You can find more info here (english).

2. Hartz IV

2.1 When nothing works anymore – Hartz IV as a student

Normally, students are excluded from receiving unemployment benefit II. However, if you study part-time, you can receive Hartz IV/ALG II. You are then available to the labor market for 20 hours a week, 20 hours are assumed for your studies (you are then allowed to do 15 credits per semester). Even if you have a part-time job, you can receive Hartz IV as a supplement.

Attention: The deadline for changing to part-time studies for the winter semester ends at the TU on 15.11.2022!
If you have any questions, please contact us!

2.2 Heating cost subsidy

Similar to the BAFöG, Hartz IV recipients have been paid 200 EUR in July 2022. The payment should have been automatic for people who received Hartz IV in July. Nonetheless, there are other dates for people whose need was determined in retrospect.
More info can be found here: https://www.hartziv.org/news/20220725-200-euro-hartz-iv-bonus-auszahlung/#200-Euro-Einmalzahlung-ist-gesonderte-Leistung

2.3 Simplified application until Dec 31 2022

Until December 31, first-time and regular Hartz IV recipients benefit from a simplified application process. If you do not have significant assets (60,000 EUR), there will be no asset test.
This is an option for people who were previously excluded from Hartz IV because of their assets.

More info can be found here: https://www.bmas.de/SharedDocs/Downloads/DE/faq-erleichterter-zugang-sgb-ii.pdf?__blob=publicationFile&v=2

2.4 Hartz IV claim due to high energy costs and bills

If you receive a high utility bill, you may be entitled to Hartz IV for that month. If your living expenses in this month cannot be covered by your own income, you are entitled to Hartz IV in the amount of the uncovered needs!
The basic requirements are that you are officially studying part-time (see 2.1) and that you apply for Hartz IV in the month in which you have to pay the utility bills.

You can read more about this topic here: https://www.tacheles-sozialhilfe.de/aktuelles/archiv/zum-uebernahmeanspruch-auf.html

3. housing allowance (Wohngeld)

3.1 Housing allowance for students

If you are “basically” not entitled to BAFöG, i.e. for reasons other than your parents’ income being too high or your assets being too high, we would like to encourage you to apply for wohngeld. Accepted reasons are, for example, that you changed your course of studies too late or that you have been studying too long. Housing allowance is a social benefit independent of parents, which many students do not know about.

However, you need a minimum income for this: https://www.wohngeld.org/einkommen/#Wie_hoch_ist_das_Mindesteinkommen_fuer_Wohngeld

3.2 Increase from 2023

On Jan 01, 2023, the new housing allowance reform will come into effect. With “Wohngeld Plus” you can expect a doubling of the current housing allowance rate. This should be about 370 EUR per month.

You can find more information here: https://www.bundesregierung.de/breg-de/themen/entlastungen-im-ueberblick/wohngeld-heizkostenzuschuss-2125018

3.3 Heating cost subsidy

Similar to BAFöG and Hartz IV, recipients of housing allowance also receive a heating cost subsidy. Until now, the heating cost subsidy 1 of 270 EUR was paid to housing benefit recipients in July.
For the heating period from Sep to Dec 2022 housing allowance recipients get the heating subsidy 2, which should be 415 EUR.
More info can be found here.

4. “Relief packages” – what does that mean for students?

4.1. energy price package (Energiepreispauschale) of 300 EUR for all those who were employed

You can receive the energy price package of 300EUR if you worked in the year 2022. In most cases, the EPP will be paid automatically. However, if you were not employed by the September 1 deadline or are self-employed you will get the money through your tax return. For employees, the EPP should have already been paid out, but some companies will allow the money to be paid out later.  Ask for it!
More information here.

4.2 200 EUR for all students

In the context of the 3rd relief package, a one-time payment of 200EUR for all students is also planned. The law has not yet been passed and not much is known about the exact details. However, it is likely that the payment will not be made until January.

More info: https://www.studis-online.de/studienfinanzierung/200-euro-einmahlzahlung-studenten.php

5. help to start/finish studies Application until 15.10.!

For those who are in their 1st semester in the winter semester or will be graduating within the next 12 months: Until Oct. 15, 2022, you can apply for the Tuition Start/Completion Grant (Studienstart/Studienabschlusshilfe) if you are

    have financial need

    are enrolled at a cooperating university (see link)

    are registered in Germany

Further requirements and information here.

6. semester ticket office

The semester ticket office processes applications for a subsidy on the semester ticket price on the one hand and applications for exemption from the semester ticket price on the other hand.

You can apply for a subsidy if, for example, you don’t have enough money to pay for the ticket or you meet other hardship criteria. On our website you can read about the reasons for hardship. In the first semester, you can apply for an exemption until 6 weeks after your immatriculation.
You can apply for an exemption from the semester ticket if you meet certain requirements. This includes e.g. study exchange, health reasons and company ticket. The FlowChart on our website explains where you should send your application for exemption.

If you are unsure whether you are eligible for an exemption or a grant, please come to our virtual consultation.
You can book it here.

7. international counseling

If you are an international student and have problems with: Residence, work, “foreigner”-authorities, landlords, studies..etc., then you are at the right place. We cannot offer on-site counseling. We are still available by email and phone (Monday, 16:00-18:00, Wednesday, 16:00-18:00).

For current information and changes you can visit our website.

8. university counseling (Hochschulberatung)

8.1 Important information for exams in WiSe 2022/23

No general free attempts
There will probably be no more corona-related free attempts this semester. Please keep this in mind when registering for exams. Especially if you have already failed modules before Corona, problems can arise quickly. We are still trying to convince the politicians that Corona still has a massive impact on students’ daily lives, but the current status is that it is going to be be abolished.

Fourth examination attempt
Regularly, there are only three exam attempts. However, we as student representatives have managed to negotiate another possibility into the Berlin University Law. You have the possibility to get a fourth examination attempt, if you take part in a counseling session within 6 weeks after failing the second repetition examination (without a free attempt) or if you can at least prove that you have an appointment for the counseling session. If you are not offered such a consultation, please contact us and the “Referat für Prüfungen”

Free attempt in the 1st semester of Bachelor’s degree programs
Due to the arguments put forward by us as student representatives, a regulation was introduced which ensures that your exams taken for the first time in the 1st semester are considered free attempts if you fail. As a freshman, you can therefore go into your first exams with a certain amount of peace of mind. It is not yet clear whether this regulation also applies in the case of non-attendance at the examination and in the case of cheating. Assume for the time being that these two circumstances, as with the regulation on free attempts during the Corona pandemic, will not result in a free attempt.

8.2 Part-time study for all

Due to the changes in the Berlin Higher Education Act, the law no longer stipulates any requirements for part-time study. You can simply apply for this if it is advantageous for you.

You can find our university and study counseling here.

More information is provided by the TU Berlin.
For current examination regulations.
For part-time studies.

[1] https://asta.tu-berlin.de/en/social-and-bafoeg-advising/
[2] https://asta.tu-berlin.de/en/artikel-englisch/higher-utility-and-heating-costs-expected-in-winter-22-23-information-and-tips-about-available-aid/
[3] https://asta.tu-berlin.de/en/artikel-englisch/information-for-student-refugees-from-ukraine-2/
[4] https://www.bafoeg-rechner.de/Rechner/
[5] https://asta.tu-berlin.de/en/artikel-englisch/more-students-to-receive-bafoeg-information-and-critical-response-to-the-27th-bafoeg-amending-law-2022/
[6] https://bafoeg50.de/reform/
[7] https://asta.tu-berlin.de/artikel/bundesverwaltungsgerichts-urteil-ermoeglicht-widerspruch-fuer-mehr-bafoeg