Students in Germany need an average of 800 euros for rent and clothes, canteen, books, health insurance and a mobile phone contract, according to the latest social survey by the German Student Union. 68% therefore work alongside their studies – and only 5% improve their budget thanks to a scholarship. The fact that the rate is so low is also due to the fact that many students consider that an application has no chance from the outset because of their grades. A mistake – and not the only one when it comes to scholarships.
“Scholarships are only for the smartest”
Undoubtedly, many scholarships are for particularly talented students and grades are an important criterion when awarding them. But that’s not the only thing: place of birth, gender, a particular situation in life or a particular interest in research can also be decisive. In addition to the 13 large talent promotion organizations, more than 2,500 foundations and smaller institutions contribute to the financing of studies, stays abroad, masters, doctoral theses, travel and research.
The problem: you barely know them. Some have a regional vocation, such as the Nassau Central Study Fund. It only supports pupils and students born in certain districts of the Frankfurt region and Wiesbaden, the region of the former Duchy of Nassau. There are special support programs for half or full orphans or students with chronic illnesses or disabilities. Others are only for female students (e.g. the Ariadne scholarship at the Trier University of Applied Sciences) and students of certain subjects. Or they demand something in return for the donations, for example a voluntary commitment from medical students to work as family doctors in a certain region after their studies. “610 million euros are available,” says Mira Maier, co-founder and managing director of the scholarship search portal Mystipendium. However, the money is often not called because the scholarship and eligible students cannot be found. The SZ scholarship guide provides an overview of many scholarship providers ranging from A for the Adelhausen Foundation to Z for the Central Association of German Trades and Crafts.
“You must be nominated for a scholarship”
It was once. High school graduates and college students self-apply for most scholarships.
“In addition to good grades, you must also have been a student representative and have won the ‘Jugend musiziert'”
Above all, the organizations promoting the gifted indeed attach great importance to social commitment, “a single 1.0 in the Abitur or university studies is in no way a free ticket for a scholarship”, specifies Annette Julius, General Secretary of the German National Academic Foundation, the oldest and largest organization for the promotion of gifted people in Germany Germany. In addition to good grades, candidates must also show “that they are not only using their talent for their own advancement, but also engaging in the interests of other people or communities.”
But whether it’s happening now as a leader of a youth group in the church community, as a handball coach at a sports club or maybe even in your own family, whether it’s a times a week for many years or as part of a project over a limited period of time is not so important: “What matters to us is that the potential scholarship holders take the initiative, work with energy and perseverance – and eventually also find completely new ways to shape our society”, says Julius.
“I’m sure they only want freshmen”
Wrong, many foundations even cater specifically to students who are already in the middle or about to graduate. The Veith Berghoff Foundation, for example, only supports future naval and ship technicians from the fifth semester with a final scholarship. And the Felix Klein scholarship is intended, among other things, for mathematics students who wish to continue their studies at TU Kaiserslautern.
“I’m not in a church or a party”
Some – but not all – of the 13 youth talent organizations are party- or church-affiliated: SPD, CDU, CSU, FDP, Greens and Left are involved in the German scholarship system with their party-affiliated foundations , as did the Evangelisches Studienwerk Villigst, the Catholic Cusanuswerk, the Ernst-Ludwig-Ehrlich-Studienwerk for Jewish students, and more recently the Avicenna-Studienwerk for gifted Muslims. In addition, there is also the German National Academic Foundation, which is politically and denominationally independent, as well as the German Business Foundation and the trade union-affiliated Hans Böckler Foundation.
On their common website, Stipendiumplus, all organizations promoting gifted students present their focal points – a good opportunity for applicants to check which potential sponsors match their own profile. Religion-related foundations expect affiliation with the respective denomination, a young Union Junge politician may not be able to do much with funding offers from the leftist Rosa Luxembourg Foundation and a candidate on a scholarship from the Hans Böckler Foundation should have at least mentally dealt with trade union matters.
Because in addition to money – there is up to 735 euros per month, plus a flat rate of 300 euros for study costs – the scholarship also includes non-material support in the form of seminars or study schools. summer, the content of which is generally at least partially related to the orientation of the foundation. The events are not just an offer – scholars are expected to not only collect the financial support, but also utilize the non-material educational offer. Incidentally, the Deutschlandstipendium, awarded since 2011, is also independent of worldviews. 300 euros per month are intended to facilitate the concentration of talented students on their studies, the money coming half from the State and half from private donors recruited by the universities.