Unused Grants – “Money Stays on the Road”

Students are following a law lecture at a lecture on the new campus of the University of Leipzig.

Many students move away from the bureaucracy when applying for scholarships (dpa / Peter Endig)

Stephanie Gebert: More students and alumni should benefit from BAföG, so the government decided yesterday and started a reform. Even so, owning one is still beyond the reach of the average person. A scholarship would be a good option. The subjective “will” is emphasized because there are many programs that subsidize, but many are not accessible, leaving thousands of euros behind. To change this, Mira Maier has launched an internet platform called mystipendium.de. It is basically a collection of hundreds of scholarship programs and it lists any conditions that must be met. Greetings, Mrs. Mayer!

Mira Mayar: Oops!

Donor: What was your scholarship that helped you in your career, or did you get it through BAföG?

Mayer: No, after a few months of research I finally got a scholarship that supported me in my project. It’s a small regional base that specializes in what I’ve done, just like the right subjects and regions, and I’ve been a bit lucky there.

Donor: We now know for a short time that many grants remain unused in drawers. Why don’t foundations or organizations manage to draw enough attention to what they have to offer and – let me be brief – get their donations out to the public? With the help of social media, it’s easier now than ever before.

Mayer: Most foundations are small foundations that have only one or two places a year and lack the human resources and advertising resources to attract attention to their donations. They really have one or two scholarships to award, usually with very specific selection criteria, such as the donor having to be born in the same place and it can be a very small place in Germany. This is why so many people do not fit into individual scholarships, and the foundations end without an applicant.

“Millions of euros a year that no one collects”

Donor: So what will happen to the money?

Mayer: The money stays on the streets, estimated at a few million euros a year, because no one picks it up. And then if you put yourself in the position of a foundation like this, if no one applies there, of course they will pay somewhere else, so no more scholarships, but for other purposes.

Donor: Yesterday we introduced BAföG in the federal cabinet, I just said, and one of the reasons why so few students and students have applied for BAföG in recent years is the fear of all bureaucracies. Is this also an obstacle in providing scholarships, why many are moving away from it?

Mayer: That is partly true. So there are foundations that have a relatively high bureaucratic barrier, but there are also foundations where a cover letter and a CV are really enough. Especially in the case of small foundations, a cover letter and a curriculum vita are usually sufficient, so it is a misconception that it takes a few weeks to assemble the application documents.

Donor: You just told me about a small foundation where the founder was born in a certain small town, and if I live in that town I have a good chance, but not everywhere. Many also believe that they must have special talents, for example, to get a scholarship. Is this also wrong?

Mayer: That’s a mistake. Of course there are foundations that select based on particularly good grades, but there are hundreds of foundations that do not pay much attention to grades, such as they do not use grades as selection criteria, or they use too much, too little, That is, a relatively bad grade average is better than a good one.

“Rarely a profile that doesn’t match the scholarship”

Donor: For example, what do you call something very foreign, but still a relatively small obstacle, and I’d recommend looking at it – to all the students out there?

Mayer: Well, we have a whole range of our own scholarship programs that are relatively external. For example, we have a scholarship program for people with poor grades, which is relatively unusual, as well as for people with abnormal CVs or those who do not fit the grid. That said, I would really recommend visiting our site, we have unusual selection criteria out there. There are very few profiles that do not match the scholarship.

Donor: And what about the big companies promoting talented students, they have an insane amount of mail – at least you imagine it – when they advertise such scholarships. I can imagine that many students would say that I have no chance with my application anyway.

Mayer: Okay, that’s what many people think, but it’s not right either, chances are better than you think. Nonetheless, I would recommend looking further, especially with smaller, less well-known foundations, the possibilities are certainly more.

The statements made by our interlocutors reflect their own views. Deutschlandfunk does not accept the statements of its interlocutors in interviews and discussions as its own.

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