Skip to product information
1 of 1


BAföG for studying abroad

BAföG for studying abroad

Image source:

The lawyer Marc-Yaron Popper advises you in a guest article about what you need to consider when applying for student loans abroad:

Studies at universities outside of Europe can generally only be funded within the framework of cross-border cooperation between universities or if the stay abroad takes place after studies begun in Germany and can be counted towards the training period.

As an exception, funding for complete study abroad outside Europe is only possible for people who have permanent residence abroad and would like to complete training there or in a neighboring country. However, this is a special regulation; Strict requirements are therefore placed on the existence of the special circumstances. This means that studying outside of Germany or Europe can only be funded if the trainee could not reasonably be expected to start studying in Germany or within the European Union or Switzerland. Such unreasonableness can arise in particular from an illness or disability of the trainee or his parents, a need for care, but also for reasons of the equivalence of the training or the economic situation of the parents or if the parents are diplomats, members of the Bundeswehr or members of the armed forces posted abroad Foreign employees of domestic companies. The decision as to whether studying in a non-European country is supported is at the discretion of the student loan office.

EU and Switzerland

The situation is different with study programs within the European Union and in Switzerland. Due to the intra-community freedom of movement for Union citizens, Germans and others entitled under Section 8 BAföG even have a legal right to funding for a complete course of study within the European Union or in Switzerland.

The only requirements are sufficient language skills and that the training institution is equivalent to one in Germany.

The restriction, according to which trainees had to have previously established residence in Germany for at least three years, has now been declared invalid by the European Court of Justice in the Prinz and Seeberger cases. The restriction of Section 6 BAföG to taking up studies abroad only in the country of residence or in the neighboring country is also incompatible with Union law, the European Court of Justice decided in a recent judgment of October 24, 2013 in the Thiele Meneses case.

European Union law prohibits these excessive and therefore disproportionate restrictions on the freedom of movement of Union citizens.

This means that every German, no matter where they live, can study within the European Union or in Switzerland and receive support. This applies in any case as long as the legislature has not issued any new regulations for Section 16 Paragraph 3 BAföG.

Other contracting states of the EEA

It is unclear whether freedom of movement under EU law and thus the basic right to support for studying abroad also applies to the countries of Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland. In addition to Switzerland, these are the other contracting states of the European Economic Area (EEA).

While the law expressly provides for training support for studying in Switzerland, this is not the case for Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland. The Federal Administrative Court therefore dismissed a student's lawsuit for funding to study in Liechtenstein in its ruling dated January 10, 2013.

The Higher Administrative Court for Schleswig-Holstein agreed with this view and rejected funding for studying in Norway. It remains to be seen how this question will be decided by the Federal Constitutional Court or the European Court of Justice.


Marc-Yaron Popper, LL.M. Eur.

The author is a lawyer in Karlsruhe and has a master's degree in European law. He primarily advises on training funding law and is the author of numerous publications on BAföG. He runs a blog about BAföG.

You might also be interested in:

babbel : learn languages ​​easily and with fun + learn a lesson for free

Apple : for allmaxx members when purchasing an Apple product, a 10% student discount and an additional App Store gift card of up to €80

allmaxx vouchers : save up to 70% with our voucher portal, for example at zalando !

View full details