Dispute over student financing: Young liberals contradict FDP parliamentary group: BAföG must “secure basic needs”

It was statements about BAföG that caused a stir: the education policy spokeswoman for the FDP parliamentary group, Ria Schröder, said in the "Spiegel" interview that she often asks herself: "Why don't some people work while studying?" It's also about personal responsibility, says Schröder.

Dispute over student financing: Young liberals contradict FDP parliamentary group: BAföG must “secure basic needs”

It was statements about BAföG that caused a stir: the education policy spokeswoman for the FDP parliamentary group, Ria Schröder, said in the "Spiegel" interview that she often asks herself: "Why don't some people work while studying?" It's also about personal responsibility, says Schröder. "We shouldn't take the state's support offers for granted. And believe that they should continue to grow."

In doing so, she sets herself apart from the coalition partners of the SPD and the Greens. Their education policy spokespersons had called for the standard support rates for students to be increased again next year. Although the government increased BAföG last year, this was swallowed up by inflation. Schröder sees it differently: In order to achieve an increase, you have to cut elsewhere. “Where is that supposed to go?” she asked.

Contradiction here comes from the party's own offspring, the Young Liberals, whose leader Ria Schröder was from 2018 to 2020. For the current chairwoman Franziska Brandmann, given the increased costs for rent and food, it is clear: "If this continues and inflation does not fall sharply, then the BAföG rates will of course have to be adjusted again," she told the star.

“Basically, BAföG must be high enough to enable students to take up a course of study and complete it,” says Brandmann. “It must ensure the basic needs of students.” The goal of young people being able to study regardless of how much money their parents have is “central” to the promise of advancement and must continue to be fulfilled.

But if you want to have a “higher standard of living”, “e.g. go on holiday”, you have to work alongside your studies, said Brandmann. More than 60 percent of the students did the same.

This means that the overlap when it comes to BAföG is greater among youth organizations than between the government parties. Because the Green Youth see it similarly: “The BAföG has to be enough to live on,” Katharina Stolla told the star. “Having to work alongside your studies – usually under poor conditions – exacerbates the already great injustice in the German education system.”

The recently elected new co-boss adds: "If you're serious about politics for young people, you shouldn't have a condescending debate about work ethic, but rather ensure more money in your account." She calls for BAföG rates to be adjusted to inflation.

The deputy chairman of the Jusos, Philipp Türmer, also calls for “realistic and inflation-adjusted demand rates”. These must “enable a real subsistence level for all students – regardless of the parents’ abilities,” he told the star.

In the coalition agreement, the SPD, Greens and FDP had set themselves high goals: a fundamental reform of student financing, with which BAföG would become more independent of parents' income. The allowances and requirement rates should also be adjusted more regularly in the future.

In June last year, the SPD, Greens and FDP decided to increase BAföG payments: the maximum rate was raised from 861 to currently 934 euros per month. Around half of the recipients receive this maximum amount. How much a person gets paid depends, among other things, on whether they have savings, how much their parents earn and whether they still live at home or not.

The youth organizations of the three parties agree: the current reform is not enough. “I expect the federal government to introduce a second BAföG reform in the second half of its government, which goes beyond the first,” said Brandmann from the Young Liberals to the star.

Türmer from the Jusos demands: “The FDP-led Ministry of Education and the entire federal government must finally show that students and young people are no longer at the bottom of the priority list. A real BAföG reform would be a good first step!”

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