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Scholarships for students: Everything you need to know and the most important providers at a glance

Scholarships for students: Everything you need to know and the most important providers at a glance

Hey, you. Yes, you. Do you want a scholarship? Sure, you'll say now. I can really use the scholarship! But needing one and getting one are two different things. Or maybe not?

Who gets what, for what and how quickly - that's what interested us and we took a close look at the confusing scholarship landscape in Germany for you. Above all, we wanted to know whether you, as a normal person without an A-level diploma and exposed do-gooder attitude, have a chance of receiving support. The good news first: Yes, absolutely! And the chances are even better than you would initially think. Regardless of whether you have been thinking about applying for a scholarship or not, this article will encourage you to give it a try!

Get the scholarships! The numbers speak for themselves

When the average student hears the word scholarship, he is intimidated at first. Scholarship, isn't that something for the top of the class, the high achievers, the careerists? Not even close. You really don't have to be a prodigy to get a scholarship. There are over 2,000 scholarship providers in Germany. What is particularly encouraging is the fact that around one in five foundations cannot find suitable scholarship holders. Conversely, fewer than one in three students actually apply for a scholarship. There are a lot of niches to fill. Anyone who dares and just tries it has a clear advantage.

Nerd or daydreamer? The right (conveying) pot for every lid

Scholarships are available for schoolchildren and students, for doctoral candidates and researchers, but also for artists and athletes. In principle, every phase of university education can be supported with a scholarship, from the start of your studies to the stay abroad and the final thesis.

It is often said that the ideal scholarship holder has two things in particular: above-average performance at school and studies and social commitment. But is it possible without a one in front of the decimal point and without party affiliation? Of course.

Each scholarship provider decides for themselves who they will accept into their funding program. The criteria used cover a wide spectrum . In addition to the large state foundations, there are a large number of corporate foundations and private patrons. While the state funding organizations for talented people set political, social or religious standards, companies use the scholarships to retain potential employees at an early stage, e.g. B. BMW , Vodafone and IKEA . Private individuals usually want to support those in need because they themselves have received a lot of help in their lives.

A mix of the following criteria is typically used when selecting scholarship recipients:

  • School and study achievements
  • Specialization
  • Proximity to party/denomination
  • Social Commitment
  • Special talents, e.g. B. in the sporting or artistic areas
  • Need/economic situation
  • character

The weighting of these criteria depends on the scholarship provider . Around 40% of all foundations do not primarily base their awards on academic achievements. Smaller foundations in particular also take additional, often unusual aspects into account. For example, the government councilor Paul Meyer Foundation awards its scholarships to children of railway employees, while the Parcham Foundation in Lübeck supports Lübeck natives. ABSOLVENTA 's awarding practice is particularly original - the recipients are voted on democratically in the Internet community.

Short process: the written application

You should usually send your written application for a scholarship directly to the respective foundation. For a few scholarships you have to be recommended by a third party, such as a teacher or professor. This is e.g. B. the traditional way to receive a scholarship from the largest German funding agency, the German National Academic Foundation . With the new Deutschlandstipendium, it is the universities themselves that select the people worthy of funding.

Sure: the more applications you send, the higher your chances of success . However, some foundations want you to apply exclusively to them. This can be worthwhile if your profile fits the requirements exactly. In any case, the sooner you take care of it, the more options will be open to you later.

Which documents should you submit? The following documents are almost always required:

  • Completed application form
  • CV
  • Motivation letter
  • School and university certificates or proof of achievements
  • Written reports from two lecturers
  • Evidence of non-university involvement

Your chances of surviving the first round of selection increase rapidly if your application is specifically tailored to the scholarship in question. Ultimately, sponsors want candidates who suit them. So the letter of motivation should contain a good explanation as to why you are applying to this foundation. It usually takes a while until you finally receive notification; Waiting up to six months is quite normal.

Show your best side in the selection interview

Once you have cleared the first hurdle, you will usually be invited to a selection meeting . Here you can find e.g. B. Exams, presentations and group discussions, but above all personal discussions with the selection committee. It's all about the sausage: what counts is your personality. Seemingly minor aspects such as openness or a confident demeanor make the difference, because there are no machines here, but people like you and me who decide on funding. Candidates who present themselves as follows have the best prospects:

  • On time and well prepared
  • Well rested and appropriately dressed
  • Personable and approachable
  • Informed and interested
  • Bright and determined
  • Relaxed and authentic
  • Confident and eloquent, but not arrogant

An interesting psychological factor comes into play. Examiners tend to prefer someone who is similar to them in many ways. Someone who reminds her of herself in her student days. Therefore, choosing a really suitable scholarship provider is crucial.

The big money? What scholarships are really worth

What can you expect from a scholarship as a student? The funding depends on the scholarship provider and your individual financial situation. Accordingly, they can be very different. A financial subsidy can be paid monthly, as an individual service or in the form of paying fees such as: B. Tuition fees are granted. Many scholarship providers offer non-cash benefits such as regular book vouchers. Scholars in need can also receive interest-free loans. As part of the non-material support, scholarship providers provide language courses, seminars, internships, free accommodation abroad, advice from mentors and/or good contacts in business.

Good to know: Scholarships are tax-free in Germany and are not subject to social security contributions. The prerequisite for this is that the funding does not include more money than you actually need for your training or research project. So students don't get rich with a scholarship. As a scholarship holder, you are not allowed to be bound by instructions, i.e. you cannot act like an employee, and your vocational training must not be more than ten years ago.

Give and take: Be prepared for something in return

Scholarships do not have to be repaid, nor are they associated with specific claims, for example with regard to scientific research results. But as is the case in life, scholarships are not entirely free. At many foundations, participation in events organized by the scholarship provider or organized meetings with other scholarship holders is mandatory. The aim is to create long-lasting networks and promote interdisciplinary exchange. The requirements can also include writing reports, for example after a stay abroad.

Indirectly, you are usually expected to represent or at least share the foundation's values ​​to the outside world. That's why your attitude is primarily examined in the selection interviews. For doctoral students, scholarships are often accompanied by a ban on other sources of income. Artist grants are often attendance grants where the recipient has to live and work in a specific location, e.g. B. in the Villa Aurora in Los Angeles.

What remains of the scholarship? The life after

No question: a scholarship looks great on your CV. It suggests intelligence, hard work and potential, and thus helps to land further funding or good job offers. The contacts gained through a scholarship often act as door openers in later professional life, be it in politics, business or art. So a scholarship doesn't necessarily determine your course, but it can be a crucial catalyst in your life's path. Many scholarship holders therefore remain connected to their sponsor even after completing their studies, e.g. B. by getting involved in alumni networks.

It's possible without it - with plan B, C and D

If you apply for a scholarship widely, the success rate is an encouraging 40%. A few applicants fall through the cracks or only receive a partial scholarship. None of this is a reason to throw in the towel. In addition to foundations, there are other sources of financing that can help you successfully complete your studies. Above all, there is the practical BAFöG , which the state grants to students from low-income families and which only has to be paid back in half later. A low-interest education loan also allows you to study relatively worry-free. However, accumulating debt while studying is not for everyone. What remains is the slightly more strenuous part-time option. If you successfully manage the double burden of studying and working, you will not only finance your studies, but you may also already have a foot in the door when it comes time to look for a job after graduation.

Otherwise, it is important to take advantage of the numerous relief options available to students, e.g. B. the exemption from GEZ fees , the discounts on the train or the numerous student discounts when shopping online .

Conclusion: Apply, apply, apply!

Scholarships are not reserved for any elite group, but on the contrary are a broad and normal form of student support. Receiving a scholarship is not impossible . Tens of thousands of students do it every year. Everyone, really everyone has a chance. Websites like my or the scholarship database from provide a good overview and make the scholarship jungle in Germany transparent with all its facets. So: just be brave! Apply now! In the worst case scenario, you will receive a rejection. In the best case scenario, you will be free of your financial worries for a long time. Good luck!

Provider at a glance

Images: “ r/g/b ”, “ curriculum vitae ”, “ library” (Flickr)

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