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Up to 900 Euros as a Safety Net

The University of Freiburg has a new financial aid program to help students who are adversely affected by the coronavirus crisis

Freiburg, May 11, 2020

Whether it’s waiting tables at a café, selling tickets in a movie theater, or checking tickets at events, many jobs students normally do have either been put on hold because of the spread of Covid-19, or they’ve been cut completely. Many students are no longer able to make a living on their own, meaning they either have to take a break from studying or perhaps even quit altogether. In order to help students in this time of need, the University of Freiburg has partnered up with the Studierendenwerk Freiburg (Office of Student Services) to provide a new financial assistance program called “Studiennothilfe” (Student Emergency Fund).

Many jobs have been cut especially in the restaurant and hotel sector, causing financial problems for students. Photo: Harald Neumann

One student at the University of Freiburg who was earning 600 euros a month with tips in March made zero in April. The cafe where she normally works had to close because of the Covid-19 pandemic, indefinitely. That’s when she turned to the Studierendenwerk Freiburg-Schwarzwald for help. “A lot of students are in the same situation as her right now,” said the social services counsellor Barbara Toth, adding: “Many jobs that usually pay around 450 euros a month have been cut in the restaurant and hotel sector, leaving a gaping hole in people’s wallets.” The phones at the Social Counseling Office of the Studierendenwerk, where Toth and her colleague Nerea Ulrich work, haven’t stopped ringing since the spread of the coronavirus. The number of calls about financial aid have been rising dramatically.

Cushioning the loss of income

The University of Freiburg and the Studierendenwerk have therefore decided to launch a new financial assistance program called “Studiennothilfe” (Student Emergency Fund). The Studiennothilfe provides financial aid of up to 300 euros per month and can be granted for a period of up to three months. Unlike a loan, the funding does not need to be paid back. All students at the University of Freiburg who are experiencing economic hardship through no fault of their own are eligible.

The goal of the Student Emergency Fund is to cushion the loss of vital earnings, thereby enabling students to continue studying. “No one should have to drop out or take a long break from studying because of this pandemic emergency,” said Rector Prof. Dr. Hans-Jochen Schiewer. The University of Freiburg is thereby supporting the call of the German U15 (an association of research-oriented German universities with medical schools) to provide more financial aid to students.

Among those who are the hardest hit by these job losses are international students. “Their parents often don’t have the financial means to be able to pay for their expenses, which is why international students are especially dependent on jobs,” Toth said. She also pointed out that there is no safety net for these young people. By the same token, there are many German students whose parents have been furloughed or have lost their jobs entirely and can no longer help their children financially like they normally would.

Donations and contributions

Applications can be submitted to the Studierendenwerk using the designated form. Based on students’ financial hardship, the urgency of their situation, and whether they have exhausted alternative funding options for assistance and are able to explain how they intend to support themselves in the long-term after assistance has expired, the Studierendenwerk will select those students to whom it will provide the emergency financial aid. The University will not be involved in this process. The Studiennothilfe is an addition to the measures that the Studierendenwerk, the state, and the federal government have already initiated because of the coronavirus crisis.

The program is also receiving funding from the University’s foundations. The Maria-Ladenburger-Stiftung (Maria Ladenburger Foundation) will be contributing 25,000 euros under the umbrella of the Freunde der Universität Freiburg e.V. (Friends of the University of Freiburg). Although this is a relatively large sum, the need is expected to be great, meaning it will likely cover only a small part of the aid ultimately needed. Further financial assistance is therefore expected to come from the Förderverein Alumni Freiburg e.V. “We will be asking all our association’s alumni in Germany to support this important initiative with a donation to help our students in need,” said Rudolf-Werner Dreier, Managing Director of the Association. In addition, the Neue Universitätsstiftung (New University Foundation) and the Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft Freiburg (Academic Society of Freiburg) are appealing to their members to support this initiative.

Judith Burggrabe




Donations for the Studiennothilfe can be made to the following account:

Landesbank Baden-Württemberg
IBAN-Nr.: DE47 6005 0101 7438 5009 55
Reference: “Spende Studiennothilfe Freiburg, Projektnummer 205162310”