At the beginning of September, the traffic light coalition put together its “third relief package”. After students had largely came away empty-handed during the first two “relief packages” – up until now you only received a heating allowance if you receive BAföG [Federal Training Assistance Act] – there was massive criticism of the government for months. Accordingly, the government announced with the “third relief package” its major effort to support students. But there is not much to it: there is to be a one-off payment of 200 euros, and for many students this will presumably not come until next year. In addition, how students will receive this money at all has in part not been clarified yet. There is a BAföG raise planned for the coming year regardless of the rescue packages, which is intended to be 5%, but in view of the current inflation it of course is a joke. Thus, it is of not much surprise that according to current studies approx. 30% of all students in the FRG are affected by poverty.

In light of the “third rescue package” we received a letter from a reader, who clarifies the current situation among the students a little on the basis of an interview with another female student:


You’ve been studying in a big city in Germany for two years now, and needless to say, where we live is a damn expensive city. How have you felt living in this city in terms of your financial situation over the past two years?

Pretty exhausting. It’s kind of impossible to just not worry about money. I used to receive Bafög, but now I’m no longer eligible for it. Of course I’ve been working for the last two years alongside attending university, logically, but with our busy schedule, it’s not exactly easy. Still, it was never enough.

In the past, I never had to worry about money that much. But then it suddenly became more and more frequent that I was no longer able to afford things that I took for granted, or that I had to borrow money from friends. They’re happy to do that if they can, of course, but it’s still damn unpleasant. My apartment - a shared apartment - is really expensive, but moving is also very expensive and you have to be able to go searching first and then also find something. It’s a vicious circle.
The situation for students who aren’t from rich families has been very tense for a long time, and in the current economic climate in the FRG it’s getting even worse. Do you feel supported by the state in this matter?

In order to be able to pay my rent despite the lack of Bafög, I was really hoping for a scholarship from the university, which goes to students in financially difficult situations. But I didn’t get it and didn’t know how to pay rent anymore. That’s why I applied for housing benefit. First of all, it’s a very time-consuming and tedious process: The application has twelve pages, and then they also need various notices. In the end, it took almost six months before I got the approval. I wouldn’t have made it through that time if hadn’t also received help by my parents, who also aren’t able to support me permanently though.

In the end, I received between 130 and 150 euros in housing benefit per month, which was just about enough. Then I wanted to apply for an extension and the shit began: After I sent the necessary documents with blackened bank statements, they wanted the bank statements again unblackened, which I find damn rude. For EVERY transfer to my account in the past months, I had to justify where it came from. Those were mainly the small one-time payments I got from my parents, though, to bridge the waiting period for the housing benefit. Without this money, I simply wouldn’t have been able to go grocery shopping or pay my semester fees, for example.

Then, I suddenly got a letter saying that I was earning too much money: My parents’ temporary support was counted as excess income and I was asked to pay back 450 euros. Money that I absolutely do not have! I even had to transfer money back from my account in order to be able to file an objection at all. Money, which I then of course was missing for the remaining weeks of the month. As expensive as everything is right now, I had far too little money and had to borrow some money from friends in cash. They weren’t allowed to transfer it to me after all, because then it would have been too much on the account again. It is so ridiculous. So you HAVE to deceive the state to survive - what a load of shit.

The application wasn’t approved in the end and I have no clue how I’m supposed to continue financing myself, especially now when I’m even in debt. They really are such pigs. I’m not eligible for Bafög, I’m apparently not eligible for housing benefit either now, and my parents can’t help me out forever.

Since the start of Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine and the already long-since rising energy and food prices, there has been a lot of discussion in the federal government about how students could and should be relieved. How have you personally experienced all these “big aid projects” so far?

Well, when it came to us students, there was always talk about Bafög and about an increase. All the students like me, who don’t receive Bafög for various reasons, don’t get anything out of it. They simply fall through.

I got this flat-rate energy allowance once, and now I immediatly need it to pay back the housing benefit that I apparently owe the state now. I have the feeling that I completely fall through the cracks, constant help doesn’t exist. I feel like I’m not eligible for anything whatsoever. And I'm relatively well off even, my parents could if necessary transfer me money for grocery shopping. What do students do whose parents can’t even do that?

FDP politician Gyde Jensen says the subsidy is just “one part of the wonderful bouquet of measures” from which young adults benefit. By that she means, for example, the 9-euro ticket and the recently passed Bafög reform. What do you say to that?

Oh kiss my ass. My God, yes the 9-euro ticket was cool but is already gone again, and the 49-euro ticket is just way too expensive. And a one-time payment of 200, 300 euros is just enough for me to pay back the housing benefit debt that I apparently have with the state after all. Poof and it’s all gone, that’s absolutely no long-term solution.