According to a recent social survey by the German Students’ Union, a canteen, books, health insurance and a mobile phone contract require an average of 800 euros for rent and clothing for German students. 68 percent therefore work alongside their studies – and only 5 percent improve their budget through scholarships. Even with this rate so low, many students feel that there is no chance of an application from the beginning because of their grades. One mistake – and not the only one when it comes to scholarships.
“Scholarships only for truly smart people”
No question, many scholarships are especially for meritorious students and grade is an important criterion when awarding them. But somehow the only thing: place of birth, gender, a particular situation in life or interest in a particular study can also be decisive. In addition to the 13 large organizations for talent promotion, more than 2,500 small foundations and organizations support the study, study abroad, master’s studies, doctoral thesis, travel, and research funding.
Problem: You rarely know them. Some have a regional focus, such as the Nassau Central Study Fund. It only supports students and alumni who were born in the Frankfurt and Wiesbaden areas, some districts in the former Dutch region of Nassau. There are special support programs for students with partial or complete orphanage or chronic illness or disability. Others target only female students (e.g., grants to Ariadne from Trier University of Applied Sciences) and students of certain subjects. Or they may ask for something in return for a grant, for example a voluntary commitment from medical students to work as a family doctor in a certain area after their studies. “610 million euros is available,” said Mira Mayer, co-founder and managing director of the scholarship search portal Mystipendium. However, money is often not called because scholarships and deserving students do not find each other. The SZ Scholarship Guide provides an overview of numerous scholarship providers, from the A for Adelhausen Foundation to the Z for the Central Association of German Crafts and Trades.
“You must be nominated for a scholarship”
That was once. Most high school graduates and students apply for scholarships themselves.
“Besides good grades, you must have been a student representative and won the ‘Jugend musiziert’.”
After all, organizations that promote talented people really value social commitment, “Abitur alone or university studies 1.0 is by no means a free ticket to a scholarship,” said Annette Julius, secretary general of the German National Foundation for Promoting Academic Foundation, Germany. In addition to good grades, applicants must show that “they use their talents not only for their own advancement, but also for the benefit of other individuals or communities.”
But whether it’s happening now as a youth leader in the church community, as a handball coach at a sports club, or even in your own family, once a week for many years or as part of a project for a limited time, it’s not so important: Takes, works with strength and perseverance – and perhaps finds a whole new way to shape our society, “says Julius.
“I’m sure they only want newcomers.”
Wrong, many foundations even specifically address students who are already in the middle of it or are about to graduate. For example, the Veith Berghoff Foundation only supports potential marine and ship technicians with final scholarships from the fifth semester. And the Felix Klein Scholarship is, among other things, for math students who want to continue their studies at TU Kaiserslautern.
“I’m not at a church or a party.”
Some – but not in any way – groups or churches among 13 organizations to promote young talent: SPD, CDU, CSU, FDP, Greens and the Left are involved in the German scholarship system with their party-affiliated foundations, such as Evangelisches Studienwerk Villigst, Catholic Cusanuswerk, Ernst-Ludwig-Ehrlich-Studienwerk for Jewish students and, more recently, Avicenna-Studienwerk for talented Muslims. There is also the German National Academic Foundation, which is politically and communally independent, as well as the German Business Foundation and the trade union-affiliated Hans Bokler Foundation.
On their joint website, StendiumPlus, all organizations present their focal points to promote talented students – a great opportunity for applicants to test which potential sponsors fit their own profiles. While religiously bound foundations expect an affiliation with the community concerned, a young politician from the Jung Union cannot do much with the left-wing Rosa Luxembourg Foundation’s funding offer and an applicant’s funding offer for a scholarship from the Hans Bokler Foundation. At least mentally trade union issues should be addressed.
Because in addition to the money – up to 735 euros per month, and a flat rate of 300 euros for the cost of the study – the scholarship also includes non-material support in the form of seminars or summer schools, the content of which is usually at least partly related to foundation orientation. Events are not just an offer – it is certainly expected that scholarship holders will not only collect financial aid, but also use the non-material educational offer. Incidentally, the Deutschland Stipendium, which has been awarded since 2011, is also independent of worldview. The purpose of 300 euros per month is to make it easier for gifted students to concentrate on their studies. Half of the money comes from the state and half from private donors who recruit universities.