Anja Chlebusch would like to do everything possible to improve the current situation. “I feel so powerless,” says the 29-year-old. He studies medical computer science at the University of Lübeck and is currently writing his master’s thesis. She has noticed an increase in prices, especially in the supermarket, and its owner has recently had to raise the rent. “In my circle of friends, everyone pays attention to prices, almost all of them had to work part-time. Going to a restaurant or ordering is no longer possible, ”he says. And although in many places the semester break is just beginning, holidays for students are practically impossible, even in the low-budget version.
She is in a relatively luxurious position herself, she says, because she writes a job for a company and gets paid for it. “If it wasn’t, I would have to spend every penny and then many things would be gone.”
AStA Social Counseling: “The situation has gotten worse”
Sylvia Hohmann recently saw what this could look like at the Social Advisory Center of the General Student Committee (ASTA) at the University of Kiel (CAU). “The problem is very visible during the deliberations,” he says. “The situation of the students has worsened and will continue to worsen.” Already in May, a study by the Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband found that 30 percent of all students in Germany are affected by poverty. Among students who live alone, this is even four out of five.
According to Hohmann, students who cannot work concurrently with their studies are particularly affected – either because of a disability or because the structure of the studies does not allow it. The ramifications are drastic: “Now I have to send a lot of students to the blackboard.” In addition, the Studentenwerk Schleswig-Holstein offers so-called free meals for students in need. “For this, money is loaded onto the campus card so that students can at least get something to eat in the cafeteria,” explains Hohmann. According to the website of Studentenwerk, you can use this offer twice per person during your studies. A free meal is valid for a maximum of three months per semester, one month is 50 euros.
Heating supplement for BAföG customers
The heating subsidy should also help students. All students who have received BAföG for at least one month between October 2021 and March 2022 or who are receiving Housing Benefit are eligible. The subsidy for BAföG recipients is 230 euros, housing allowance is classified according to the size of the household: If you live alone, you get 270 euros, a two-person household receives 350 euros, for each additional person you get an additional 70 euros. Students receiving BAföG and Housing Benefit receive a grant for people receiving Housing Benefit. The subsidy should be paid automatically – in Schleswig-Holstein from August 2022, a spokeswoman for the Federal Ministry of Construction informed the AFP news agency at the end of June. Sylvia Hohmann remains skeptical as to whether the payment will go smoothly, especially for those who currently no longer receive BAföG. The student union, on the other hand, is confident that the grant will help, spokeswoman Kerstin Klostermann said.
In addition, BAföG rates will be increased from October, the federal government decided to do so in June. The problem: the promised subsidy rates no longer keep pace with inflation. “This will not compensate for the increased cost of living,” says Sylvia Hohmann. AStA chairman at the University of Lübeck, Florian Marwitz, believes that any increase is basically a good thing. But it is not enough.
First Corona, now the energy crisis
The energy crisis is also hitting students so hard because many of them have already struggled with challenges during the crown pandemic. For example, many have lost their part-time jobs. This makes it all the more difficult now to raise more money for increased costs, says Florian Marwitz. Added to this is a vicious circle: “If you now realize: I can’t afford to study anymore, I have to work – that is also a decision to extend my studies,” explains the 23-year-old. However, in most cases, BAföG funding is only paid for the duration of the standard study period.
A study by the German Center for Higher Education and Science Research (DZHW) also found that the crown pandemic worsened the financial situation of many students. This may cause more students to drop out of college. “The data already shows that students in particular whose working situation has deteriorated and whose parents are also affected by the deteriorating income situation are more likely to consider leaving,” said project manager Markus Lörz. Accordingly, around 15 percent of affected students thought of this possibility in the 2020 summer semester. Sylvia Hohmann from AStA at CAU expects this development to continue now.
Chairman of AStA: Subsidies are not a long-term solution
The Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband has already called for a fundamental reform of the BAföG by publishing its study. It is important to raise the rates and expand the group of beneficiaries – says Marwitz. He helps students who are in need now, but not. In addition, more support is needed for students who do not receive BAföG. CAU’s Sylvia Hohmann agrees that they often fall through the cracks. She appeals to all students in need: “Come to the counseling center, seek help. There are many places that offer support. ” During the pandemic, CAU set up a fund for students with children. Hopes that something similar can now be implemented in the short term. However, subsidies and one-off payments will not solve the problem in the long run, according to the president of Chlebusch and Lübeck AStA Marwitz.
Saving tips: find paid internships, shop later, take advantage of promotions
Anja Chlebusch lost her part-time job during the Corona period and was fed up with studying online after two years. That’s why she decided to do her master’s thesis in a company that now also helps her financially. – I know a few who now deliberately do compulsory internships in companies, and not, for example, at universities – because of the salary – says the 29-year-old.
She herself has now learned to share her money. Her tricks: “For example, I always go shopping a little later, because many supermarkets and discounters lower their prices on fruit and vegetables in the evening – especially on Fridays and Saturdays.” In addition, they often buy on sale and take additional tours for this purpose. When it comes to food, you can take advantage of collector discounts or campaign days, for example. Nevertheless, the situation is frustrating: “During the Corona, nothing could be done. Now everything is possible again – and now high prices make it difficult for us. “