Students with disabilities are often faced with numerous expenses which are not fully covered by the payments for disability-related additional costs provided by the social welfare offices. However, BAföG and other forms of student financing contain specific disability-related provisions to ensure that students receive continuing, reliable financial aid for the duration of their studies.
The German student financing programme "BAföG" (German Federal Training Assistance Act) is the first place you should apply to for financial aid – provided that your personal assets or the income/assets of your parents or spouse are not sufficient.
If you have a disability or suffer from a chronic illness, we recommend applying for BAföG financing in any case since your disability- or illness-related expenses can raise your exemption threshold. Because BAföG funding cannot be granted retroactively, you should submit your application early (at least three months prior to the beginning of the semester as long as you are pursuing a concrete academic goal or are already enrolled).
If you have any questions related to student financing and BAföG applications, please contact the Student Financial Assistance Office of the Studierendenwerk Münster:
Special provisions for handicapped and chronically ill students
When calculating your parents' available income, BAföG includes an additional "hardship deduction" for applicants with a disability or chronic illness. Not only does this apply to your personal disability, but also if one of your parents is disabled or if there is another dependent in your family.
Confirmation of required continued support
After the fourth semester, BAföG-financed students with disabilities are required to substantiate their continued need for further BAföG assistance with the Student Financial Assistance Office. In this statement, you must verifiably state your level of academic achievement and semester of study. If after the fourth semester, you have not yet achieved the required number of ECTS points because of an illness, chronic illness or disability, you may request permission to submit confirmation of academic achievement at a later time. The informal request must include detailed justification with corresponding medical certificates from a physician or medical specialist.
Financial assistance in cases of extended study or change of degree programme
Students with a disability or chronic illness have the possibility of extending the maximum duration of financial assistance (§ 15 (3) BAföG). To receive an extension, you must provide justification for the delay and certificates from a physician or medical specialist indicating to what extent the disability prolonged your studies and how long the prolongation will last. Reasons for the delay can include structural obstacles at the University, defective or non-existent aids etc.
If you are forced to change your degree programme as a result of a disability or chronic illness occurring before your fourth semester, you are eligible to receive BAföG financing for your new programme as if it were your first degree programme (§ 7 (3, 2) BAföG).