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Help in Times of Need

A financial aid service "Studienstarthilfe" helps to bridge monetary shortfalls as young people start their studies.

Freiburg, Nov 08, 2018

Help in Times of Need

Photo: Patrick Seeger

The semester is already underway, but cash is in short supply. Lack of funds can lead to dropping out of school prematurely, especially for students who don't receive enough support from home or who are experiencing personal or life-changing setbacks. A consultation at the Student Service Center of the University of Freiburg or at the "Studierenwerk Freiburg-Schwarzwald" can open up routes to private or public sources of aid. Until these instruments come into play, the "Studienstarthilfe" can help young scholars get through the first months of their studies.

The University of Freiburg welcomes its new students on the first day of the semester. Because not all of them start out with sufficient financing for their education, the university has launched a new aid program together with the "Studierendenwerk Freiburg-Schwarzwald." Photo: Patrick Seeger 

The "Studienstarthilfe" is a University of Freiburg aid program that was developed in cooperation with the "Studierenwerk Freiburg-Schwarzwald." It is aid intended to bridge financial gaps during the first semester of study. Money problems often come up during this period. Students who have not received scholarships or federal student loans ("BAföG") don't know how they will make it through the first months at university. They are threatened with dropping out.

Preventing an early end to studies

The "Studienstarthilfe" aims to prevent that. Harriet Falkenhagen and Peter Allmann of Public Relations and Event Management at the university conceived of the program. "Students are supported from many sides," explains Falkenhagen. "We asked ourselves if there are blind spots – places where additional aid could be possible," she says. After all, only very few students are able to provide for themselves. Allmann elaborates, "Most of them are not able to finance their studies on their own by working part-time jobs." After speaking to colleagues, Falkenhagen and Allmann say they discovered that the outset of studies is a critical time that is hardly covered at all.

Among the groups that are particularly likely to have problems at the start of their studies are refugees and students who've suffered personal misfortunes, who provide care for sick family members, or have disabilities. For example, a student whose home town, Donetsk, Ukraine, was severely damaged during the conflict there, began studying at the University of Freiburg after a long and difficult illness. Now she would like to apply for a scholarship – but she's going to have to support herself for a few months before even receiving word that the aid has been approved. "That's one of these cases that moved us to plan for financial aid at the start of studies," says Claudia Glißmann, who is responsible for granting loans at the "Studierendenwerk." 

Setting up a financing plan for the entire period of study

When it comes to financial planning, the "Studierendenwerk" is the most important partner at the university. "The university came to us," says Renate Heyberger, the deputy manager and head of the press office at the "Studierendenwerk." She continues, "Then we worked out together how the format could best be implemented." At the same time, it's also a matter of working together with students to develop a financing plan through to the completion of their studies. This is where the "Studierendenwerk" and the Student Service Center come in. "A realistic financial plan to follow the initial aid is a precondition for granting the loan," says Glißmann. Beyond that, certain performance criteria are taken into consideration when the aid is granted. Students must demonstrate these in spite of difficult conditions.

The Freiburg Alumni Booster Association "Förderverein Alumni Freiburg e.V.," the Friends of the University Association, and the Maria-Ladenburger Foundation are providing financial support for the project. Falkenhagen and Allmann welcome the support and are hoping for more donors. "The program is still in its infancy," says Falkenhagen. "To achieve our ideas, we need additional donors. But we've got a good foundation for now," she adds.

Pascal Lienhard


The maximum "Studienstarthilfe" sum is 750 euros a month. The aid period runs for up to six months.

Contact: Peter Allmann, Tel.: 0761 203-9802