Student housing

When living becomes a luxury item during your studies

Often there has been talk of it lately, we lived in a time of social stagnation. Undoubtedly, the student reality provides particularly vivid examples of this. Little has changed in recent years, not only in the chronic under-funding of universities, which arrives at the students in the form of over-full seminars, outdated libraries, insufficient care by teachers or scheduling and work stress by the “Bologna” of the study. No, the stagnation starts with student housing.

Housing prices continue to rise

Every year, students feel it, even before the results of the latest study in the newspaper are published: For many, living has become a luxury item. The most recent evidence of this is the student housing price index published by the Cologne Institute for the German Economy (IW) on behalf of the German Real Estate Fund at the beginning of October 2018, according to which rents for student apartments have risen particularly sharply since the beginning of the decade.

Once again Munich is the most expensive city, where in the second half of 2016 an average student flat cost around 17 € per square meter, 43% more than in 2010. In Stuttgart and Frankfurt it was 13 €, in Hamburg, Cologne and Heidelberg 10-11 and on the According to this study, students were cheapest in Leipzig or Bochum (€ 6.5). Although the square meter price was “only” € 10 in the capital city of Berlin, the increase has been particularly steep in recent years.

Bafög recipients particularly affected

In particular, BaföG beneficiaries face a problem. Since 2010, the Bafög surcharge for housing costs has been granted exclusively in the form of a flat-rate flat-rate for which the specific rent does not play a role. Those who no longer live with their parents and maintain their own households receive just 250 €, although they often have to pay twice as much in the housing market to have an acceptable roof over their heads.

While Hartz IV recipients usually receive the actual rent, including the heating costs, students should cover everything through the flat-rate flat-rate and thus ensure their existence. This may well be doubted at least for the medium to high-priced student cities, as students of a calculation of the Moses Mendelssohn Institute according to their Bafög only in 5 of 93 cities surveyed can afford a room at the average price.

The often heard hint, but to move into a student dorm, goes past the thing, because dormitories are scarce and the waiting time is up to two years. Even shared rooms cost a federal average of € 350 per month. Already in 2017, the Studentenwerke pointed out that especially students with low incomes now have to spend almost half of their money on rental costs. If you do not want to go into debt or if you want to keep your parents on the bag – provided they can afford it and find a place to study near the place of residence – you either save on food or work, which will inevitably put off your studies and thus prolong your studies excessive rents will pay. A vicious circle.


The tense housing market for students had prompted the state governments of Berlin, Brandenburg and Bremen in the spring of 2018 to introduce a bill with the aim of significantly increasing the Bafög housing allowance to the Federal Council.

According to the submission, the Bafög rates, which were last adjusted in 2016, were not sufficient to cover the costs, especially since students who live with their parents could not apply for additional benefits under SGB II. The Bafög rate must therefore be cost-covering. As a result, the flat rate should be raised to € 300 and, if there is a demonstrably higher rent, by € 100, plus heating costs. Altogether Bafög recipients could have come to 450, – €.

However, on 27 April 2018, the Federal Council rejected the submission of the bill by Berlin, Brandenburg and Bremen to the Bundestag. Despite lip service, the interests of the students were once again sacrificed on the altar of party and competence dispute.

Affordable Housing – Lack of Alternatives or Will to Act?

But the real cause of the problem, of course, is not the low Bafög rates, but the unrestrained rent increase caused by the lack of suitable housing. As early as 2017, Deutsche Studentenwerk had drawn the conclusion from a comparison of the students’ living costs and the amount of student loans: “The federal and state governments urgently need to invest in expanding and refurbishing dormitories in order to lower student housing costs or make them affordable Level. “

The subject student living is u.a. on the lips of all the studies mentioned, however, in recent years, similar to the general housing market, there has actually been little. Municipalities and resourceful private investors try to remedy the shortage on site with hotel ships, containers or the conversion of former barracks.

But all these measures only once again prove the failure of politics. It has failed at the national level for years, through more intensive construction of new 2-3-room apartments in particular sufficient living space u.a. to create for students. Good initiatives in favor of the students are not infrequently found in the mills of the usual gap between the federal government and the federal states. For example, according to the federal government, the federal states alone are responsible for the construction of dormitories, which of course they are unable to see. Coordinated will to change quickly looks different.

Increasingly cemented inequality

At the end of the day, the housing crisis worsened the chances of study and education, especially for children of low earners – with a tendency that has been unchecked so far. Bafög has long been no protection against this increasing division of the younger generation, not only because of the insufficient requirements. The number of subscribers has been falling for years due to comparatively low income limits or other exclusion criteria.

In 2016, just 18% of all students received funding (on average less than 500 euros), the lowest number since the early 1990s. In 2017, the number of beneficiaries declined by a further 5 percent to 782,000. Since 2013, almost 110,000 students have dropped out of sponsorship.

For them and many others, only the part-time job, the wallet of their parents or the indebtedness remain to finance study and housing. Equal educational opportunities for all – the reality is different. It would be nice if something got moving in this regard.

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