Maintenance as a student – student maintenance

A course of study can also be considered as an appropriate education, which parents must enable their children according to sections 1601, 1610 (2) of the German Civil Code (BGB). The same applies here that the offspring must be determined as a student, so that parents are not financially strained for an unnecessarily long time. In addition, it depends on the performance of the parents, by far not everyone can finance his child’s studies. This article tells you what you should know about student maintenance or as a student.

The most important

  • The study must correspond to the child’s abilities and inclinations, be affordable for the parents and enable a professional qualification.
  • The adult child decides whether to start studying.
  • Students are entitled to an orientation phase so that they can change their subject area until the 3rd semester if the course is wrong.
  • The course of study must be completed within the average study period in order not to lose the right to maintenance.
  • Parents only have to finance education for the child. However, several stages of training (Abitur-Lehr-Studium or Bachelor-Master courses) can be part of initial training if they are closely related in terms of time and subject matter.
  • Secondary training must be made possible in exceptional cases if this has been discussed beforehand between the parent and the child or if this is necessary. This is necessary, for example, if the child was forced into an unsuitable course of study by the parents against his will or if the study was started due to a completely wrong assessment of the parents.
  • The student has to inform his parents exactly about the course of the study. Otherwise, he is not entitled to maintenance for students.

Table of Contents

Children of legal age decide >

It decides for itself whether the adult child wants to study. However, in order for a claim to maintenance to be given, the study must correspond to the abilities and inclinations of the child and be affordable for you as parents. For example, if the parents have a low income or if there are priority dependents such as siblings who are minors, students cannot expect the parents to finance their studies.

It decides whether your child wants to study

It decides whether your child wants to study

In addition, the degree must lead to a professional qualification so that the offspring later have their degree to finance one’s own livelihood can. It is therefore not enough if the student only attends lectures that interest him and that do not allow him to graduate.

As a parent, you can only refuse to finance your studies if the child’s wishes are only fleeting and temporary, the study or course does not correspond to the child’s abilities, or the study cannot be financed by the parents.

Deadline for maintenance as a student

It is true that your children have to go through the training and thus their studies with determination so that they do not take up too much money as parents, which is a duty mutual assistance and respectaccording to § 1618a BGB follows. But that doesn’t rule out that students also have a certain orientation phase due. If the course you have started turns out to be wrong, you may change your subject until the 3rd semester. However, changing to an apprenticeship such as a banking apprenticeship, which can only be started 10 months after dropping out in the second semester, does not lead to a loss of maintenance entitlement.

Numerous court decisions have to do with how quickly the degree has to be completed and the degree can therefore last. Most of the time is based on the average duration of study and not on the shorter standard study period, which is stipulated by the examination regulations or study regulations of a course at the respective university.

To qualify for maintenance, students must therefore complete their studies in the average study period. If the average duration of study is not reached, the claim to maintenance is of course also given.

Even if there is no agreement between the parents and the child about a year of study abroad, the parents have to cover the costs if

  • the additional costs due to their good income can be expected to them,
  • studying abroad is objectively justified and makes sense for the intended degree,
  • the overall cost of maintenance is reasonable.

With a one-year stay abroad, a longer study period than 15 months is fundamentally no longer financed by the parents. However, exceptions also confirm the rule here. Are there any special circumstances such as numerous illnesses during your stay abroad and one change of the place of study, the students are not to blame for this. The right to maintenance for students therefore remains, even if the studies here lasted 16 months.

Your offspring is not entitled to the financing of a "strolling course"

Your offspring is not entitled to the financing of a "strolling course"

Your offspring is not entitled to the financing of a "strolling course". This raises the question of what the maintenance claim looks like if the coveted study place cannot be started due to the numerus clausus and a "park study" is carried out until the start. A distinction has to be made here: If the student is already working on the relevant subjects of the intended main course during the park study in order to complete it as quickly as possible and if this does not result in a significant extension of the total study time, maintenance for students can be requested. On the other hand, the parents do not need to finance a relevant park study. If a suitable park study is not possible, the prospective student must simply earn money in the waiting period until the start of the study, i.e. contribute to his maintenance.

If the study is only started a long time after graduating from school, there is no entitlement to maintenance, provided there were no valid reasons for the lack of determination. Such reasons can exist, for example, if the daughter gives birth to her own child, then looks after it for three years and only then begins her studies. Here the right to maintenance for students remains.

Also for participating in one voluntary social year maintenance may be required. The social year does not have to be relevant for the desired education, so the parents have to pay maintenance during this time. This is argued on the grounds that voluntary social year is still part of the orientation phase. The child’s own income in the social year must be taken into account to reduce the need.

If the degree has been completed or has been canceled, the maintenance claim ends after an application period of three months. After this time, the former student has to finance his own living, if necessary also through a job outside of training.

Several trainings

Once an apprenticeship has been completed, the right to maintenance for students ends. There are, however, cases in which a completed apprenticeship is followed by a course of study that is part of the child’s initial education and for which you as parents have to pay. This has to be separated from the constellation in which the parents are obliged to finance a second education.

Here, several training phases are part of initial training

With the Abitur-Lehr-Studium cases and the Bachelor-Master cases, under certain conditions, initial training may be available for which you, as parents, have to provide maintenance. On the other hand, this is the exception for doctoral studies as well as for secondary school-teaching-technical college-degree-studies.

Abitur-teaching-studies / Bachelor-Master

There is a close relationship between high school, teaching and studying temporal and factual connection, uniform initial training is to be assumed. However, there is no chronological connection if the child has only been working in the learned profession for two years and only then decides to study. This also applies if the child is only working in this profession, although he could have studied immediately after graduation.

The factual connection is given if the teaching and the course are related. This is the case with the following training courses after graduation:

  • Banker – business administration
  • Bank clerk – law
  • Architectural draftsman – architecture
  • Alternative practitioner – medicine
  • Businessman – business administration or economics
  • Car mechanic – mechanical engineering
  • Farmer – Agricultural Sciences
  • Carpenter – product design

No factual connection on the other hand, there are these degrees and courses:

  • Office assistant – computer science
  • European Secretary – Economist
  • Industrial clerk – medicine
  • Industrial clerk – mechanical engineering
  • Industrial clerk – law
  • Secretary – Economics
  • Forwarding agent – law

If the bachelor’s degree is followed by the master’s degree in a timely manner, this is also considered a uniform initial training.


If you want to continue your doctorate after completing your studies, as a parent you no longer have to fund the doctoral degree, since your studies have completed your vocational training. In exceptional cases, however, there is a parental obligation to support the doctoral student if the doctorate represents the usual completion of the course (for example, in medical studies) and therefore the child would be significantly disadvantaged compared to the other graduates without the title. However, the doctoral student must fund part of his maintenance through part-time work.

Home School Teaching-school diploma studies

If your child has a secondary school or junior high school diploma instead of the Abitur, the maintenance claim ends when the apprenticeship is completed. It cannot be assumed here that the child will continue to study at the university of applied sciences. If, on the other hand, the study is already planned at the start of the apprenticeship, there is an exception to maintenance.

second training

In some cases, as a parent, you are required to give the child a second education. This includes, on the one hand, the funding of a course of study if the child fails at the high school, then goes through an apprenticeship and there is agreement between the parents that the secondary school leaving certificate should then be completed and subsequently studied (Koblenz Higher Regional Court, judgment of 28.02.2000, Az .: 13 UF 566/99).

On the other hand, a change of profession may be necessary because, for example

  • the child was forced into a course of study that he did not want, was not suitable, and did not correspond to his abilities,
  • The child and parents have determined that the study is wrong and the parents have nevertheless pushed for a degree,
  • the child has started a course of study that does not match his or her abilities and inclinations because the parents have refused to support another education,
  • the study was started on the basis of a completely wrong assessment of the parents.

Parents are entitled to information

If you finance your child’s studies, they must also inform you, as the parent, of the child’s progress. This also includes precise information on the subjects to be completed, exams, training certificates (“certificates”) and, if applicable, on practical training courses (internships). If this does not happen and this information is refused, parents no longer have to pay maintenance for students.

Maintenance for students: amount and calculation

What parents have to pay for maintenance for students depends primarily on whether they are efficient and where the child lives. The parents are only able to perform if they can pay maintenance.

The parents are only able to perform if they can pay maintenance

The parents are only able to perform if they can pay maintenance

In particular, the ranking principle applicable to maintenance law according to Section 1609 of the German Civil Code (BGB) must be taken into account, according to which the maintenance claims of the beneficiaries at an upper rank must first be satisfied before the subordinate beneficiaries receive maintenance. As adult students only occupy 4th place, maintenance claims for an already expensive course of study presuppose that in addition to at least good income ratios for the parents, there are not several priority dependents.

In addition, each parent is entitled to an appropriate personal requirement of EUR monthly (note 5. to the Düsseldorf table, status:). Only the income beyond this is available for maintenance for the student, unless it is used up by the main dependent.

Student lives with one parent

If the child is of legal age and lives with one parent, this means that in principle both parents have to pay cash support in proportion to their income. In this case, maintenance is based on the income group, which results from both parents’ income, and the age group for adults according to the Düsseldorf table.

Student has their own accommodation

If the student has their own accommodation, such as a “student booth” at the place of study, their monthly maintenance claim is EUR (note 7. to the Düsseldorf table, status:).

Health and nursing care insurance as well as tuition fees

The monthly table for health and long-term care insurance and tuition fees are not included in the amounts in the Düsseldorf table. These costs are therefore to be borne additionally by the parents if they are sufficiently efficient, although the students are often insured through the parents in the (statutory) family insurance free of charge up to the age of 25.

Credit of the student’s own income

The student’s own income reduces his needs and must therefore be taken into account. This applies in full to child benefit, student loans and / or a scholarship.

Does the student practice a vacation or Mini-Out of a job, he only needs to have a portion (about half) of the income from it, or not at all, if the parents are not full or not at all efficient. If the income is taken into account, it must be adjusted in advance for the student’s work-related expenses.

You can find details on how to calculate the maintenance of children of legal age, including a practical example on how to calculate maintenance during training and studies.


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Christina Cherry
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