This is how it works with a scholarship application

Gütersloh/Berlin (dpa/tmn). For many freshmen, mid-October is time to head off to college. Getting out of the house and meeting other students is often the highlight of the first few weeks.

But especially in times when prices are rising and students are facing high costs of living, the question quickly arises: How do I really finance my studies?

In addition to Bafög, scholarships are available, of which there are more than 2,500 across the country. Among the best known programs are those of the 13 organizations for the promotion of gifted students. They are political, religious, trade union or company-related, and the framework conditions for funding are specified by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF). The Deutschlandstipendium, which is awarded by universities, is also widespread.

But there are also many time and fixed-destination scholarships for stays abroad or dissertations on offer. Therefore, it may be worth doing a thorough investigation.

Report, but where?

Interested parties can find initial information on the website or at of the German Business Foundation. There, for example, the “Stipendium-O-Mat” can provide initial guidance for suitable scholarships. Elternkompass also offers individual counseling sessions: Based on personal background, counselors recommend scholarships and give advice on how to apply.

In principle, admission to a scholarship program is also possible during your studies. However, Ulrich Müller of the Center for the Development of Higher Education (CHE) recommends applying early: “The sooner I have a scholarship, the longer I can receive funding.” For many programs, it is a requirement that those who receive funds study at least four more regular semesters. The application deadline is sometimes only twice a year.

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It’s not just grades that count

For the application, scholarship providers often expect a motivation letter, proof of social commitment and a personal report. A checklist with the necessary documents can provide an overview.

Typical mistakes are not checking them or looking for the necessary documents, says Christina Lehmann of Elternkompass. You can also prepare well for job interviews. “Stay authentic, be honest, and be relaxed,” advises Ulrich Hawel of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.

Besides the notes, what matters most is the person as a whole. “In general, we try to combat the myths about scholarships and remove the fear of applying,” says Lehmann. In particular, biographical obstacles such as immigration background, non-academic background, flight connections, or chronic illnesses can offset qualifications. “These are slowing factors that we try to balance socially,” as Ulrich Hawel says.

commitment in a broad sense

Anyone who now writes them off because there is no evidence of social commitment should not be discouraged. Activities you don’t even think about at first often count. Caring for relatives or private reading groups, for example, are a sign of social responsibility: “Don’t be too humble, don’t think you’re small,” advises Müller. And Lehmann also says: “Such supposedly everyday things are immensely important for the commitment itself.”

When deciding for or against a specific aid, those interested should ask themselves questions such as: Can I feel comfortable in the foundation? Do the values ​​represented match yours? And how would I like to contribute to the foundation? Such points should be addressed in the letter of application. “You have to know exactly what base you’re dealing with,” says Hawel.

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An application does not always have to involve a lot of effort. For smaller programs, a written application is usually sufficient and there is a good chance of being accepted. “Sometimes it’s very easy or doable on short notice,” says Müller. It often pays to apply for scholarships at the same time you apply for student loans. However, similar documents are usually required.

How much money is there with the scholarship?

The amount of money that ends up in the account after a successful recording varies. While smaller foundations fund a living allowance, the amount for gifted support organizations is usually based on the Bafög rate. Anyone who receives the maximum subsidy rate is not entitled to Bafög.

“The big advantage is that the scholarships are 100 percent free money,” Müller says. Unlike Bafög, the funding does not have to be repaid. A subsidy of 300 euros is not counted. In addition, there is often ideal support in the form of workshops, seminars and the development of a professional network.

Even those without a high school diploma can apply for scholarships. “People with professional qualifications generally don’t believe that a scholarship is possible,” says Andreas van Nahl of the Foundation for Vocational Education (SBB). The advancement scholarship, for example, supports experienced professionals to obtain a first degree after completing their training. The SBB Continuing Education Grant can be used to fund continuing education or grants.

In the end, even a failed application can have benefits. After all, you learn how to conduct job interviews: “Anyone who has done it once is calmer the second time,” says Müller.

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© dpa-infocom, dpa:221017-99-157846/3 (By Charlotte Rubble, dpa)

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