Education is not cheap, no matter where a person decides to study, there are costs involved which can tie a person to repayments for many, many years. The United States, with its Student Loans, is no different to Europe and, especially, Germany, where loans are constantly on offer to those with the right qualifications and abilities to study but who cannot afford the cost of several years in a college or university. In Germany there is BAföG (Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz) which, since 2006, offers potential students a loan of about five hundred Euro for each semester they study. In the past few days this loan law has come under scrutiny and brought forth a new decision from the European courts on precisely who is eligible for such a loan.
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The latest case revolves around a young man, born and raised in Brazil of German parents, living in Istanbul and wishing to study in Holland whose application for a student loan in Germany was refused. Previously there were two other cases, both of which were refused in the initial instance because the students did not meet the requirement of three years residence in Germany prior to their application. In the second two cases the European court ruled that the students should be granted student loans and that the three-year requirement failed to take into account how much of a connection the applicant had with Germany, regardless of how long they had lived in the country. And the first case?
Here the European court has also ruled against the bureaucrats stating that a close connection to Germany for citizens – through birth alone, for example, but without any form of residence – could not be measured exclusively on how long a person has lived in the country, or whether they had lived in Germany at all. They are of the opinion that many other forms of integration into German society exist, even for those who have never lived in Germany but hold a German passport.
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The court in Hannover must now review their criteria over who is German enough to receive a student loan, and whether the mere holding of a German passport along with the necessary language or other similar abilities, is enough to prove integration within German society and, through this new form of integration, the right to be given a loan.
Student loans were granted to nearly a million students in Germany in 2012 alone. That number, with this new ruling, could explode over the coming years, even when the students themselves have never set foot on German soil and do not intend studying in Germany or, more important from a financial point of view, working in the country once their studies are concluded.
- Viktoria Michaelis.