How to manage studying with a child
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Studying if you have a child is a particular challenge. Of course you have a lot of complex questions.
Our advisory service offers useful information and support.
We offer advice on the following topics:
- Social benefits (parental allowance, child allowance, unemployment benefit, Mother and Child Foundation)
- Special arrangements (leaves of absence, exams, BAföG funding extensions)
A number of special provisions exist at the University of Duisburg-Essen. These are defined in the examinations regulations for the different degree programmes and should be consulted for further information. Special provisions apply to e.g.:
Lectures and classes
If a child is raised mainly by one parent, the parent may apply to the relevant lecturer to be excused from regularly attending lectures or classes. The student must complete the equivalent of the missed workload at the lecturer’s discretion. Students with children may apply to the relevant lecturer to attend lectures or classes with a limited number of participants.
If a student misses an examination because his or her child is sick, a medical note must be submitted and the examination will then not be classed as a failed attempt. If the student is on maternity leave or parental leave, an application can be made to the examination board to take the individual circumstances into account in setting the examination conditions. Raising a child may be a reason for a student to apply during the re-registration period for a vacation semester (leave of absence).
Students with children may sit examinations in spite of the vacation semester.
Since 1 January 2018, female students can also take advantage of maternity protection six weeks before and eight weeks after birth (for premature and multiple births as well as births of children with disabilities twelve weeks after birth) if:
- the "training place obligates the place, time and course of the training event" (compulsory course or examination) or
- the students perform a "compulsory internship within the context of higher education" (compulsory internship).
During the maternity protection period after birth, the training center may not allow female students to work, unless expressly required by them. In addition, training centers may not allow pregnant and breastfeeding students to work between 8:00 pm and 6:00 am, or on Sundays and public holidays. Exception is given, if:
- students require expressly to be able to work between 8:00 pm and 10:00 pm or on Sundays and public holidays,
- participation in training at this time is required,
- working alone is excluded and
- certain nights of rest or spare rest days are granted (exemption from the prohibition).
Pregnant women or mothers can take a vacation semester for the education of their child.
This gives them the opportunity to complete their studies despite interruption in regular study time.
It should be noted that the student status expires during the vacation semester and thus the BAföG claim expires. But other social benefits such as the unemployment benefit II (Arbeitslosengeld II) can be requested. However, ths is only possible if no exams are actually taken during the vacation semester.
There are certain deadlines for the application for the vacation semester, these usually correspond to the re-registration deadlines of the universities.
Parents of children may choose between parental allowance (Basis-Elterngeld) and parental allowance plus (Elterngeld Plus), or a combination of the two.
Parental allowance (Basiselterngeld)
Parental allowance is paid for 12 or 14 months. It is paid for a maximum of 12 months if only one parent takes parental leave. It is paid for a maximum of 14 months if both parents share parental leave between them. It can also be paid for 14 months if a mother or a father is a lone parent.
The minimum amount of parental allowance is 300,00 € per month. Because parental allowance is seen as a benefit in lieu of earnings, the amount is based on the average wage in the 12 months prior to the birth of the child. With the exception of a few special cases, the general rule is 67 % of the net wage. Students with no earned income prior to the birth of the child receive the minimum rate of 300,00 €.
The parental allowance can be halved and paid for twice the amount of time. Parents receive the parental allowance in addition to child benefit. However, it is offset against maternity allowance. Families receiving parental allowance who have more than one child are eligible for a supplement for the other children.
Parental allowance is offset against ALG II unemployment benefit where the claim did not result from employment prior to the birth of the child. Parents who had compulsory health insurance in the statutory scheme prior to the birth of the child continue to be insured premium-free when they are receiving parental allowance, as long as they have no earnings on which statutory health insurance contributions are payable (e.g. part-time wage; exception: mini job).
Parental allowance plus (Elterngeld Plus)
This type of parental allowance offers mothers and fathers the chance to claim half the amount of parental allowance but for twice as long if they work part-time. If the mother and the father each works between 25 and 30 hours per week, there is also a partnership bonus over a further four months per parent. As in the past, students continue to receive a minimum of 150,00 € per month under parental allowance plus.
Parental allowance is not included in the BAföG calculation.
The application for parental allowance must be made to the responsible authority following the birth of the child.
Jugendamt Duisburg, Ludgeristraße 12, 47057 Duisburg
In Essen and Mülheim:
Amt für Soziales und Wohnen, Kurfürstenstraße 33, 45138 Essen
Generally Students are not entitled to ALG II unemployment benefit on account of their eligibility for training assistance under BAföG.
There are some exceptions:
- Children up to 15 years of age may be entitled to the social allowance/Children from the age of 15: ALG II (standard benefit, accommodation or additional needs). They are part of their studying parents’ shared household in the calculation.
- Single and expectant mothers may under certain circumstances also be entitled to apply for additional needs or one-off benefits which are not related to their studies (e.g. baby equipment in the case of pregnancy). These payments are not hardship benefits and therefore may not be approved as loans.
- During a vacation semester students are not officially in training or education that is eligible for financial assistance and therefore may be able to claim ALG II unemployment benefit.
Applications are made to the “Jobcenter”.
The child benefit is 250,00 € per month (state 01/2023).
The person the child lives with receives the child benefit.
Applications are made to the Family Benefits Office of your local Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit; Familienkasse).
The tax office decides whether you receive child benefit or are granted a tax exemption.
In order to prevent low-income families from rushing into unemployment benefit "Arbeitslosengeld II (ALG II)", there is a child supplement of up to 250,00 € per month (state 01/2023).
You can check whether you are entitled to the child supplement with the KiZ-Lotsen of Familienkasse. You can apply for the child supplement directly online.
Recipients of a child supplement do not have to pay the cost contribution for the kindergarten or day care centre. Those who are eligible can additionally receive assistance with education and participation for their children (see German Social Code SGB II, Section 28 Bedarfe für Bildung und Teilhabe).
For students with children there is a childcare supplement of 160,00 € per month for each child. The supplement is paid in a lump sum without evidence of corresponding childcare costs. It is not offset against other social benefits such as housing benefit. The application must be submitted separately to the BAföG-Amt. Only one parent can receive the supplement at a time.
The requirements for this are:
- own child under 14 years
- living together in one household
In addition, each child is granted a certain allowance on their income during their studies. The maximum funding period and the age limits can also be postponed by raising children.
Students are only eligible for housing benefit in exceptional cases as their basic entitlement to BAföG excludes any claim to housing benefit. This does not apply if other members of the shared household themselves have no claim to financial assistance under BAföG.
Couples with children or single-parent students should therefore always apply for housing benefit – even if they are receiving BAföG – to their local Residents’ Office/District Authority (Einwohneramt/Bezirksamt). This is now also possible online: Calculator and apllication for Wohngeld
Maternity allowance is a payment made by the state during a period of 6 weeks before and 8 weeks after the birth of a child. Women who are compulsory or voluntary members of the statutory health insurance (no family health insurance) and are in employment at the beginning of this protected period are eligible to apply for maternity allowance.
If this is the case, women can get a maximum of 13,00 € per day ( max. 403,00 € per month) as a wage replacement benefit. You are entitled to the employer's grant for maternity allowance if your average net wage per day is higher than 13,00 €.
You can apply for the maternity allowance at your health insurance provider. Please use the form that you receive from your health insurance provider for the application. For the application you need a medical certificate about the calculated date of birth. You will receive this at the earliest 7 weeks before the date. Please submit the application as soon as you have this certificate.
Women who are privately insured themselves or insured through a family member (statutory und privately) may only apply for a single payment of 210,00 € from the Maternity Benefit Unit (Mutterschaftsgeldstelle) of the German Federal Insurance Authority (BVA).
If the absent parent (not living in the household) does not pay maintenance, it is possible to apply to the Youth Services Office (Jugendamt) for a maintenance advance.
The amount is (state 01/2023):
- 187,00 € for children from the age of 0 to 5
- 252,00 € for children from the age of 6 to 11
- 338,00 € for children from the age of 12 to 17 and is paid until reaching the age of 18
Financial assistance from the Mutter-Kind-Stiftung is not affected by any other claims and depends on the actual emergency situation. There is no legal right to assistance. It is nevertheless worth contacting the foundation, as it can offer unbureaucratic help.
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