ROUNDUP: Minister of Education announces rapid reform of student loans

BERLIN (dpa-AFX) – Federal Minister of Education Bettina Stark-Watzinger has announced an imminent student loan reform. The FDP politician told the newspapers of the Funke media group (Wednesday) that this will be launched “now very quickly”. “First important steps” should therefore be implemented as early as the winter semester 2022/23, according to a statement from their ministry on Wednesday when the new student loan report, which the federal cabinet was concerned, was presented.

According to Stark-Watzinger, students from families with low incomes should benefit from so-called start-up packages of up to 1,500 euros. “High costs for a laptop or other necessary purchases to start your studies shouldn’t be a hurdle for studying.”

The traffic light parties had agreed a student loan reform in their coalition agreement. It is intended to expand the group of students who are funded. In the past few years fewer and fewer people had received student loans. Stark-Watzinger gave further details: The Bafög funding times are to be extended and age limits raised. “We also want to increase the subsidy rates and the tax exemptions so that more young people are entitled to student loans.”

The Minister of Education also reaffirmed the goal set out in the coalition agreement of making funding less dependent on parents in the long term. The traffic light government is planning to introduce a so-called basic child benefit, which should consist of a uniform guarantee amount for all children and an additional amount depending on the parents’ income. According to the plans, the guarantee amount is to be paid out directly to adult trainees or students in the future.

According to the Federal Statistical Office, the number of Bafög recipients has continued to decline in recent years. After a high of 979,000 Bafög recipients (including student Bafög) in 2012, it was only 639,000 last year. The Bafög report discussed in the cabinet on Wednesday confirms that the number of beneficiaries and the number of those receiving funding have continued to decline over the past few years. “We can’t accept it like that,” said Stark-Watzinger.

The German Student Union had repeatedly criticized the fact that benefits and allowances had not been adjusted sufficiently over the years and that families with middle incomes could no longer be reached with the Bafög. / Jr / DP / jha

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