Questions and Answers for Nontraditional Students with Children

 

FAQ – Student Parents

Do I have to inform the university about my pregnancy?

No, you are not required to report your pregnancy to the university. There are some exceptions, however. When completing an internship as part of your studies or if you are employed in other ways, for instance if you work as a student assistant, then you are required to inform your employer or place of internship about your pregnancy right away after you find out about it.

Can I take parental leave as a student?

No, only mothers and fathers who are employed are entitled to parental leave. This benefit thus does not apply to your studies. If you are employed while studying – for example as a student assistant – then you may apply for parental leave for this particular place of employment.

RWTH students with children may however apply for leaves of absence due to pregnancy or to raise and care for a child. A total of six semesters of leave are possible per child. If both parents are students at RWTH, they can also distribute the six semesters between themselves.

Where do I apply for a semester of leave?

You can apply for a semester of leave at the Registrar's Office by supplying proof of acceptable grounds. For more information about leaves of absence you may also contact the Registrar's Office.

When do I apply for a semester of leave?

You should apply for a semester of leave during the registration period for the semester from which you wish to be absent. For re-registration deadlines please check the pages of the Registrar's Office.

Can I do any coursework or take exams during a semester of leave?

It is possible to do coursework or take exams during a leave of absence according to Section 48 of the North Rhine-Westphalia Higher Education Act (Gesetz über die Hochschulen des Landes Nordrheinwestfalen). Possible grounds for being granted a leave of absence include pregnancy or raising and caring for young children.

Do I still have to pay the semester fee for my semester of leave?

Yes, you still have to pay for the semester during which you are taking a leave of absence. There is a possibility to be reimbursed by AStA for the mobility fee if you submit your Semester Ticket there. Further information can be found on the AStA website.

Do I get to keep my health insurance during the semester of leave/while receiving parental allowance?

Students who are publicly insured can keep their membership in the public state insurance as long as they are receiving the parental allowance. Mandatory members who are not receiving any other stipends liable to contribution except for the parent allowance are insured without cost.

Mandatory membership in the public state insurance exists as long as you stay enrolled at university. You will just keep paying your regular contributions to your insurance provider as before. For those who were insured through their own parents before the birth of their child nothing changes. The baby can be included in the public family insurance without any additional cost.

Married students and those with life partners living in the same household can, up to the age of 25, be insured under the spouse's or life partner's family plan at no cost as long as he or she is publicly insured.

The concept of a free family plan does not exist in private health insurance. Here, every member of a family has to be insured separately. Students who are privately insured must thus contact their insurance provider to take out a new health insurance policy for their child.

We advise you to get in touch with your health insurance provider in good time in order to figure out how you and your family can best be covered.

What are the maternity leave guidelines?

As of January 1, 2018, female students are also covered by the Maternity Leave Act, which formerly was the case only for women who are employed.

Maternity leave begins six weeks before the estimated date of birth and typically ends eight weeks after giving birth.  For premature and multiple births, maternal leave job protection is granted for twelve weeks after giving birth.

 

Am I eligible to receive paid maternity leave?

Paid maternity leave is granted by public insurance providers for the date of delivery as well as the time periods before and after giving birth as specified in the mandatory maternity protection guidelines.

Only those publicly insured women who are actually employed during the maternity period are eligible to receive paid maternity leave.

Female employees who are not themselves covered by mandatory insurance – for instance those who are publicly insured under a family plan –, are paid their maternity allowance through the German Federal (Social) Insurance Office, or Bundesversicherungsamt.

Further information on eligibility requirements for paid maternity leave can be found in the Maternity protection guidelines (de) information leaflet published by the Federal Ministry of Familiy Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, or BMFSFJ for short.

How much Mutterschaftsgeld/maternity allowance is paid?

The maternity allowance paid by the gesetzliche Krankenversicherung, or German State Health Insurance, is capped at 13 euros per calendar day. This is equivalent to a monthly net wages of 390 euros. If the average net income per calendar day exceeds 13 euros, then the employer is obligated to make up the difference, thereby paying the so-called maternity pay supplement. The calculation is based on the average net income minus statutory deductions.

Female employees who are not members in a statutory health insurance fund – for instance those covered by mandatory insurance under a family plan – receive a maternity allowance of 210 euros maximum, which is paid by the German Federal (Social) Insurance Office, or Bundesversicherungsamt.

The maternity allowance of expecting mothers with higher incomes is supplemented by employers. This payment is based on the difference between a supposed net wage of 13 euros per calendar day and the average actual net income earned by the expecting mother.

 

How and when do I apply for maternity allowance?

Depending on how you are insured, you will have to apply either with your mandatory health insurance provider or the German Insurance Office, or Bundesversicherungsamt.

Female employees who are members of the statutory health insurance fund receive their maternity allowance from their health insurance provider. Expecting mothers who are privately insured or covered under a public insurance family plan, can only receive maternity pay from the German Insurance Office, or Bundesversicherungsamt. In order to apply, you will need a doctor's note stating the approximate date of delivery. This is typically issued seven weeks before the due date at the earliest.

Caution: The maternity allowance paid by the Bundesversicherungsamt does not count as parental allowance while the maternity allowance paid by the mandatory insurance provider after the birth of a child is being offset against the parental allowance.

 

Can students receive Elterngeld/parenting allowance?

Yes, students are also eligible to receive Elterngeld if they meet the requirements. The amount of the parenting allowance is typically based on the average net wages earned in the 12 months prior to the birth of the child by the parent dedicated to caring for the newborn.

The calculation is based on income as defined by the personal income tax code, whereby maintenance allowance and Bafög are not classified as income. The parental allowance replaces 65 to 67 percent of the missing net income, being capped at 1,800 euros however. If no income was earned in the period prior to the birth of the child, a base rate of 300 euros a month can still be paid as parenting allowance.

If net earnings before the birth of the child amounted to less than 1,000 euros a month, then the substitute payment is raised from 67 percent right up to 100 percent at maximum. For every two euros below 1,000 euros of monthly earnings, the substitute rate is raised by 0.1 percentage points.

Sample case: For a student having earned 400 euros in monthly wages, the substitute payment rate is raised from 67 percent to 97 percent, which amounts to a monthly parenting allowance payment of 388 euros.

Studies can be continued without any restrictions while receiving the parenting allowance – as opposed to the 30 hours a week time limit with regard to paid work.

Parents jointly raising their newborn are entitled to receive Elterngeld for a duration of 14 months. They may split these payments as they wish, but one parent may at maximum claim twelve months; the minimum duration is two months. Single parents can receive a total of 14 months of Elterngeld if they fulfill all prerequisites.

If the mother receives Mutterschaftsgeld after the birth of her child, this will be calculated against the parenting allowance. The parenting allowance may be claimed up until the child has turned 14 months.

Further information with regard to Elterngeld and ElterngeldPlus can be found in the  broshure published by the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. A parenting allowance calculator can furthermore be found online, albeit only in German.

What are the regulations for student parents with regard to Bafög? Where can I find more information?

Student parents, who receive Bafög, are elegible to also collect a childcare stipend according to § 14 b BAföG.This stipend does not have to be paid back at a later time – it is considered a full grant. The maximum duration of funding through Bafög can furthermore be extended within reason due to a pregnancy and raising a child under ten years old. For further information and advice please contact the Bafög office of Studierendenwerk Aachen.

Where do I apply for Kindergeld?

The child benefit, or Kindergeld, is first disbursed in the child's birth month. The amount currently paid can be found on the Bundesagentur für Arbeit website. You apply for Kindergeld at the Family Benefits Office, or Familienkasse, at the local labor office, or Agentur für Arbeit. More information on everything concerning Kindergeld can be found in German here.

Employees in public service receive their child benefit payment through the family benefits office responsible for their employer, which in the case of RWTH Aachen University is the LBV. You can find application forms and further information in German here.

I found out about the supplemental children's allowance, or Kinderzuschlag. Am I eligible to receive it and where do I apply?

Students who are eligible to receive Bafög for their education, are entitled to children's allowance, or Kinderzuschlag, only if they fulfill certain prerequisites.

The Kinderzuschlag is an allowance to financially support low income families. In order to receive it, the following requirements have to be met:

  • You already receive Kindergeld – or a similar benefit – for this child
  • Your gross income amounts to no more than 900 euros for a couple or 600 euros for single parents.
  • Your gross income does not exceed the maximum income level according to the ALG II-rate
  • Including the children's allowance you will have enough income as not to be eligible for either unemployment benefit II or any social benefits.

You apply for the Kinderzuschlag also at the family benefits office, or Familienkasse, at the Bundesagentur für Arbeit. It amounts to 170 euros monthly per child and is normally granted for a duration of six months at a time.

Whereas Kindergeld is considered a compensatory payment financed by the German Government through taxes to help defray the cost of raising children, the Kinderzuschlag is a social security benefit. It is supposed to financially support families, who can cover the cost of their own living expenses, but not that of their children. In order to receive the children's allowance for their children, the parents have to meet the minimum income limit. The family's income and assets may, however, not exceed the unemployment benefit II level according to ALG. More information can be found here.

 

Am I eligible for the housing allowance benefit, or Wohngeld?

The housing allowance offers financial assistance if rent or the costs of home ownership pose a great burden to your household income. The amount of assistance is based on the number of eligible household members and their combined income as well as the cost of rent. Whether you are entitled to receive Wohngeld is decided by the Wohngeldstelle or housing subsidy office of the city or community where you reside. For those residing in Aachen, for instance, this would be the Wohngeldstelle der Stadt Aachen.

What other financial assistance is available?

The Bundesstiftung Mutter und Kind – Schutz des ungeborenen Lebens offers pregnant women in need financial aid, for example to purchase maternity clothing or initial items for the new baby. The funds are disbursed by state-approved advising offices such as pro familia, donum vitae, Caritas or Diakonie. You should apply by the twentieth week of pregnancy. Students are also eligible to receive financial assistance for pregnancy-related costs, maternity clothing or the layette through their local Jobcenter, or public employment service.

What is the earliest age my child can start daycare?

When your child turns one year old, you have a legal right to a childcare place. A Kita, private nursery or nanny may accept your child even at an earlier age. In order to receive government funded childcare for children younger than one year old, you will need to fulfill certain prerequisites, however. We highly recommend that you make an appointment with the RWTH Aachen Family Services Center to find out about all of your options with regard to childcare in a personal consultation setting.

When should I start looking for a childcare place?

There are no hard and fast rules about when to start looking for a childcare place. At what point you start looking or applying really depends on how old the child will be when he or she begins childcare and what type of childcare you are envisioning for your child. To help you fully understand your options and choices we recommend that you make an appointment for a personal consultation with the RWTH Aachen Family Services Center.

What are my childcare options?

On the Family Services Center website you will find an overview of general and university-related childcare options in Aachen.

What are the prices for my child's daycare at a Kita?

For publicly funded childcare, such as provided in a Kita or by an in-home daycare provider, you will have to pay a monthly parental contribution to the youth welfare office, or Jugendamt. The exact cost is determined by your yearly gross household income, but the age of the child and the extent and duration of care are factors in the calculation as well. You can find detailed information in German about the monthly Parental Contributions for Kitas and about  in-home daycare offered by nannies on the city of Aachen Website.

What are the offers for school-age children?

For children aged six to eleven, RWTH Aachen University is offering a holiday recreation service during the Easter, summer and fall vacation. Further RWTH offerings for school students can be found under the heading  Schülerprogramme. In addition, numerous vacation activities are provided by other, diverse Aachen institutions.  Information about vacation programs can be found on the City of Aachen website.

The open all-day schools, or OGS for short, typically provide some childcare during school vacations for grade school children – for three weeks during summer vacations for example. Children who will only begin with the first grade after the summer break can already participate in these offers at their future OGS. Many open all-day schools also offer a one-week long vacation program during Easter and fall vacation.

 

I am not married at the time of my child's birth – what do I have to consider?

If a newborn's parents are not married at the time of birth, a father's paternity will have to be acknowledged separately even if both parents are living with the child in one family household. Only after paternity has been proven, you as the father will be entered into the birth registry and your child will be entitled to receive child support, inherit from your estate or claim pension benefits while you in turn gain custody rights. It can also be helpful to have your paternity acknowledged before applying for any public benefits or assistance. This process is possible even before the birth of your child, but at the latest it should be accomplished right after.

The father of the child can acknowledge paternity at the Youth Welfare Office – Jugendamt – or at the Civil Registry Office – Standesamt – free of charge. The mother has to give her consent. Acknowleding paternity allows fathers to exercise their parental rights, such as being allowed regular parenting time with the child, while at the same time holding them responsible to support their child financially. Further information and the name and numbers of your  city of Aachen contact person are provided in German here.

If the father is not willing to acknowledge paternity, the mother can apply to have paternity established by judicial decree at the family court, or Familiengericht. In this case, the Youth Welfare Office can also be relied on for support in this matter. If a child's parents are not married and have not declared whether or not they want to raise the child in joint custody, then the mother initially has sole custody of the child. Joint custody is, however, possible for an unmarried couple. The declaration of joint custody can also be registered at the responsible Jugendamt and can already be accomplished before the birth of the child. The Jugendamt provides further information in this matter on the City of Aachen service portal.

I am a single parent. Can I apply for additional aid?

  • VAMV: The local chapter of the association for single mothers and fathers, or Verband alleinerziehender Mütter und Väter offers advice and support for single parents.
  • Bundesstiftung Mutter und Kind: The Bundesstiftung Mutter und Kind – Schutz des ungeborenen Lebens is a federal foundation offering financial aid to pregnant women in need.
  • Unterhaltsvorschuss: Single parents who do not, or not regularly, receive support payments from the other parent, may apply for a maintenance advance. On the website of the  BMFSFJ – or Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth – more information is provided, albeit only in German. You'll have to apply for this type of financial aid with the Unterhaltsvorschusskasse Aachen at the Jugendamt – or Youth Welfare Office.
  • Beistandschaft: Guardianship is a voluntary service offer for single parents with sole custody. More specifically, it is a special form of legal guardianship, which encompasses two possible fields of activity: determining paternity and collecting parental support payments. More information can be found in the German language online publication by BMFSFJ or you may contact the city of Aachen for further assistance.
  • Darlehen des Hildegardis-Vereins: The Hildegardis association offers students who are single mothers an intrest-free loan. To be eligible, the student must not have turned 30 years of age yet and she must belong to a Christian denomination.  All types of subject areas and degree programs are being funded – even second degree programs or postgraduate programs.

Being a parent I can only visit lectures at certain times of the day. These typically fill up quickly, however. How does RWTH Aachen support me in this?

The so-called Familienkarte, or family card, allows you preferential consideration in choosing your classes due to your family obligations in accordance with Section 5 (3) of the comprehensive examination regulations ÜPO. You may pick up this card at the Registrar's Office. Further information about the Family Card can be found online.

Where do I apply for the family card and which supporting documents do I have to provide?

Detailed informationen about the Family Card can be found online.

What other support offerings does RWTH Aachen provide for students with children?

In addition to the Family Card, RWTH Aachen provides student parents with support in finding childcare: Since summer semester 2017, students have been able to claim a grant for short-term childcare to help them cover expenses related to hourly childcare or bridging the gaps in difficult childcare situations. 

This grant is capped at 300 euros per semester and student parent. The Family Service can reimburse 6,50 euros at the most per childcare hour. In order to receive such funding you will have to submit your family card and personally apply with the Family Service. Further information about this grant can be found on the Childcare for Student Parents webpage.

With the so-called Kids Card from Aachen Student Services, Students' children up to the age of 10 receive a free meal once a day. You can find detailed information about the Kids Card and how to apply for it on the Studierendenwerk Aachen pages.

Are there any accomodation offers specifically for students with children?

Studierendenwerk Aachen offers accomodation at two different residence halls for student parents – one located at Mattschö-Moll-Weg and one at Rütscher Straße. Information as well as the online application form can be found on the Studierendenwerk webpages.
Caution: Only applications of individuals who have not yet reached 30 years of age are being considered.

The Studierendenwerk der Katholischen Hochschulgemeinde also lets appartments to student parents or families.

Where can I find information about studying abroad with a child?

Information about stays abroad for student parents can be found on the Study Abroad with a Child webpage. You can also apply for financial support or receive a special grant for studies abroad as a parent. Further information about the Scholarship for Students Studying Abroad with a Child can be found on the MAWISTA website.

Where do I find the most current information about studying at RWTH Aachen while caring for a child? Who can answer my more involved questions?

Here you will find the most current information about studying as a parent at RWTH Aachen. You may furthermore subscribe to a Mailing List in order to receive regular, up to date information on the topic of studying with children. For further advising needs you may also make a personal advising appointment with the Family Services Center. The General Students' Committee AStA also offers Advising for Student Parents.