A supposed ray of hope for those entitled to student loans: the Bundestag wants to improve the conditions in an initial reform. The following changes should therefore apply from the coming winter semester:
• The Bafög rates are to be increased by 5 percent. • In addition, the parental allowance is to be increased by 20 percent, so that the circle of possible recipients is enlarged. • In addition, surcharges for rent, health and nursing care insurance and for childcare for students with children are to be increased. • In addition, the age limit of 30 at the start of Bafög is to be raised to 45 so that studies can also be taken up later. The Bafög is also increasing for students and trainees.
The opposition in the Bundestag has criticized the student loan reform initiated by the traffic light coalition as insufficient. The CDU politician Monika Grütters spoke of a “small throw” at the first deliberation of the law on Thursday. The LINKE also criticized: The higher Bafög rates would be completely eaten up by inflation, criticized education politician Nicole Gohlke.
Student networks are also dissatisfied. “There is light and shadow in the federal government’s planned BAföG amendment,” says the student union, for example. The required rates need a booster, because “the targeted plus of 5 percent will eat up inflation again immediately.”
Inflation was already well over seven percent in March and April. The government should not expect students to lose purchasing power, according to the student union. Instead, you have to increase the Bafög rates by at least 10%. In addition, further steps must follow, “such as the introduction of student start-up assistance, the extension of the maximum funding period or a reduction in the loan share.”
Speakers from the governing parties defended the project: “This first Bafög step is a giant step forward,” said Federal Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger (FDP) about her law. Regarding the criticism, she said: “Yes, every euro in your pocket is always good. But we need the right balance between those who pay and those who get something, and we have to keep rebalancing this.” The SPD politician Lina Seitzel spoke of the beginning of a trend reversal. You turn the downward spiral in Bafög again.
In the past ten years, the number of BaföG recipients has fallen continuously. After a high of 979,000 (including student student loans) in 2012, it was only 639,000 last year. The Deutsches Studentenwerk (DSW) is convinced that the reasons for this include the fact that the performance over the years has not been enough reformed, expanded and adapted to new realities of life.
After four semesters in the pandemic, most of which took place completely digitally, “the psychological stress situation and the financial and study organizational problems of many students are existential” warns the Deutsches Studentenwerk (DSW). The psychosocial counseling of the student unions urgently needs to be expanded to ensure equal opportunities in studies.
“It’s about social isolation and loneliness, the fundamental questioning of studying, to a large extent also about depressive moods, hopelessness, up to and including suicidal thoughts. As a result, the course of studies is sometimes severely delayed, and thoughts of dropping out are becoming more common,” says Dr. Andrea Diekhof, Managing Director of the Studentenwerk Leipzig and member of the DSW Association Council
She appeals to German education and university policy to pay more attention to the plight of students.
“In the past four semesters, students with children, chronic illnesses or disabilities, as well as international students and students from non-academic families, in particular, have had to deal with multiple challenges. It is difficult for these groups to make themselves heard and to point out their needs, and they are seen even less by politicians.” she explains the situation.
Now the existing draft law will first be discussed in the education committee. However, until it is passed in the Bundestag, student representatives still hope that the text of the law will be changed.