Social Counselling

Our social counsellor will answer your questions concerning social insurance, child care, insurances, unemployment benefits, social assistance, students with disabilities or chronic diseases. In addition, our social counsellor knows contact details of other counselling services and important authority contacts.

Consultation hours of the social counselling serviceare Monday and Tuesday from 9.00-12.00 hrs and Thursday from 13.30-16.00 hrs. The contact details of Barbara Toth and Nerea Ulrich can be found on the right.

In this interview, Nerea Ulrich and Barbara Toth talk about their work at the SWFR (Studierendenwerk Freiburg) and the various support options for students with disabilities.

1) In which areas is the SWFR responsible?

The SWFR is responsible for the social, cultural and financial support and advice of students in the university region of Freiburg, Lörrach, Offenburg, Gengenbach, Furtwangen, Kehl and Villingen-Schwenningen - and has been doing so for exactly 100 years now.

2) Who works at the social counselling service of the SWFR?

We, the social counselors Barbara Toth and Nerea Ulrich, share the position in social counseling. We are the representatives for students with disabilities in the SWFR. The two social pedagogues offer free and confidential consultations for all students seeking advice in German and English.

3) For whom are the social workers of SWFR contact persons?

The social workers Ms. Toth and Ms. Ulrich offer counseling on all social topics and issues and are especially responsible for students with handicaps or chronic illnesses, students with children and for international students.

4) Who can students contact with personal or study-related problems?

In addition to our social counseling offer the SWFR also offers a psychotherapeutic counseling center, short PBS. Students with psychological problems (e.g. anxiety, relationship problems, concentration problems, etc.) can turn to this center. Our psychotherapists offer free individual consultations and a comprehensive seminar program. Registration is required for this. Once a week there is an open consultation hour without appointment.

5) And in case of financial difficulties?

The counseling services at SWFR consist of social counseling, the PBS and student financial counseling. The Social Counseling Service provides information on social benefits, while the Financial Counseling Service focuses more on advising and arranging student loans, credits, emergency aid (such as the Mensa-Freitisch, a free meal in the refectories for needy students) and scholarships.


Financial Questions

Generally speaking, this is not possible because students who are enrolled in an educational program which is eligible for funding at its core - this includes all regular university programs – are not entitled to the benefits specified in the SGB II and SGB XII. Due to students’ basic eligibility to receive funding for their studies, it does not matter whether the student does in fact receive BAföG. Students who have exceeded their funding period limit and do not receive BAföG any longer or have never received BAföG due to other reasons, are still not entitled to benefits specified in SGB II and SGB XII.

However, in certain cases of particular hardship, benefits may be available to secure one’s livelihood (as stated in SGB II as a loan, or as stated in SGB XII as a non-repayable allowance or a loan). These cases include, for example:

  • If the studies are suspended because of the birth and the subsequent care of a child

  • If the studies have to be extended beyond the duration supported by BAföG due to illness, pregnancy or disability and if the successful completion of studies would be jeopardized due to a lack of funding

  • If a student with severe disability is at risk of not being able to secure his or her livelihood through employment in the long run if he or she had to drop out of education

  • If a destitute student is currently taking his or her final exams and therefore, it would be unconscionable to expect him or her to drop out of education.

ATTENTION: Students on leave of absence - and of course those who are no longer enrolled at the university - are not entitled to BAföG. If they are able to work, they can apply for unemployment benefits (Arbeitslosengeld II) for themselves and social benefits for children living with them, provided that no supplementary child allowance is paid for them. Please note, however, that there must be a valid reason for a leave of absence: Illness, pregnancy or care of family members. The relevant proof must be submitted to the Studierendensekretariat. You cannot take a leave of absence in order to apply for unemployment benefits/social benefits!

Further information can be found on the websites of the Deutsche Studierendenwerk or the "HARTZ VI Ratgebers" (with "HARTZ IV Rechner").

Students can only apply for housing assistance benefits, if they are not/no longer entitled to BAföG benefits. This can be the case if:

  • The maximum funding period has been exceeded and the requirements for further support or graduation support specified in the BAföG cannot be met

  • The graduation support timeframe has been exceeded

  • The age limit for educational grants has been exceeded.

Attention! If one applies for housing assistance benefits, one has to provide proof that one’s regular income is slightly higher than the amount calculated to secure the need-orientated basic livelihood according to SGB II (at least €446 plus monthly rent). Otherwise, the authorities assume that false information has been given or that the applicant is concealing income. However, naturally an applicant’s income or fortune cannot exceed certain limits either.

Further information on this topic can be found on the website (this includes a housing assistance calculator).

Please note: The housing allowance is a social benefit. Foreign students with a stay according to §16b AufenthG may endanger your stay by applying for housing benefit! Please seek advice in advance or consult the aliens department.

In Freiburg one can apply for housing assistance benefits at the Office of Housing (Amt für Wohnungswesen) located at the Fahnenbergplatz. Students who do not reside in Freiburg should contact their relevant administrative district offices Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald (Freiburg, Stadtstraße 2 or Titisee-Neustadt, Goethestraße 7) or Emendingen (Emmendingen, Bahnhofstraße 2-4).

When applying for housing assistance benefits, one should submit the BAföG letter of refusal as well as proof of income and the completed application form.

The Hartz IV - social benefits for pregnancy, single parents, people who need care, disabled and chronically ill student as per the SGB II and SGB XII. Information regarding social help, benefits for single parents, unemployment allowances, basic insurance and BAföG can be found on the website of Deutsches Studentenwerk and Hartz IV

Students with family insurance are not allowed to earn more than 450 Euro through not self-employed work; income from self-employment, earned interest and rental income may not exceed 470 Euros per month. Students who earn more than 470 Euros for more than three months within one year (earned interest income, rental income, etc.) or earn more than 450 Euros per month are excluded from family insurance. Students who are no longer covered by family insurance can disregard income limits but are subject to time restrictions. They are allowed to work a maximum of 20 hours per week during the lecture period. There are no time restrictions during the lecture-free period.

Exception: Students may also work more than 20 hours a week during the lecture period for a limited period of time, if the job is limited to a maximum of three months or 70 working days from the outset or if it is designed in such a way that one works mainly on weekends, in the evenings or at night. Students are free to select their health insurance, long term care insurance, unemployment insurance and the pension insurance fund. However, if your regular monthly gross income is higher than 450 Euros, pension insurance contributions are obligatory; exemptions are not possible in this case.

Attention: You may work more than 20 hours a week for a maximum of 26 weeks per year. Otherwise you will be treated as an employee under the social security act.

Detailed information can also be found here

Generally speaking, all households (single rooms, shared apartments) are required to pay TV and radio license fees. It does not matter how many people live in a given apartment or how many devices are connected. Further information about the new license fee regulations can be found here

Students who do not live in their parents’ household and receive BAföG benefits can file an application directly with the “Beitragsservice von ARD ZDF und Deutschlandradio” for exemption from the obligation to pay TV and radio license fees. Attached to that form, one is required to submit a certified copy of his or her BAföG decree. You can also have the paperwork certified by the social counselling service of the Studierendenwerk. Detailed information as well as the application form can be found on the website of the contribution Service.


Additional Questions

A number of financial aids are available for pregnant students and studying parents. Therefore, it is recommended to get in touch with the social counselling service of the Studierendenwerk or one of numerous other counselling services (PRO FAMILIA, Sozialdienst katholischer Frauen etc.).

Helpful advice and information can be found in the annotated link collection

For children aged between 1 and 3 years the Studierendenwerk offers a total of 100 childcare places in its two day-care centers (morning, afternoon and full-day childcare). The daycare facilities are located in the Glacisweg 3 (close to the University) and in the Kunzenweg 17 (PH-Campus). They are not exclusively open to children of studying parents. However, priority is given to children of parents who are currently attending University or undergoing vocational training.

The Studierendenwerk Freiburg also has the right to occupy ten full-day childcare places in the “Kita Wolkengarten” (Campus Flugplatz). Children as young as three months of age are admitted here.

15 children aged between 18 months and 6 years are cared for in the “Kita-Miteinander” at the Protestant University of Applied Sciences. Further information can be found at

Addresses of additional nurseries, day-care centers and kindergartens in Freiburg can be found on the website of the city of Freiburg.

Alternatively, childcare provided by nannies is also available. The TagesmütterVerein Freiburg offers “a qualified, flexible childcare service that is tailored to the actual needs”. For this purpose, women and men who are interested in child care are recruited, trained and qualified for the care activity. Afterwards they are put in contact with inquiring parents. Further information can be found at

Whether on a trip around the world, as a fruit picker in Australia or when studying abroad – one should not forget to take out travel health insurance. On top of that, one can take out luggage insurance, accident insurance as well as travel cancellation insurance for little money. With such an insurance package one will be fully covered abroad.

One’s domestic health insurance provider will be of great assistance when looking for travel health insurance.

As a matter of principle, Students are subject to take out health insurance. Students and university applicants who have taken out private health insurance and wish to be exempted from the statutory student health insurance must submit a confirmation of their private health insurance to a statutory health insurance company and apply for "exemption from the compulsory insurance of students". Attention: This exemption is valid for the entire duration of studies. The exemption form must be presented when enrolling at the university.

During your studies, there are different health insurance options: either through family insurance, through a special student health insurance or through a voluntary health insurance for students.

Students who are insured through their family’s health insurance are not required to take out personal health and nursing insurances. Normally, students can take out family insurance until they reach the age of 25 (usually up to the age of 27 in the case of privately insured persons), i.e. they do not have to pay their own insurance dues. If the studies are interrupted or delayed because of military or community service, there is the possibility for an extension of family insurance coverage for the time period corresponding to the service. One condition for being insured through family insurance is that your monthly income from not self-employed work does not exceed 450 euros. Your income from self-employed work, rent and earned interest must not exceed 470 euros. 

Students who are no longer covered by family insurance must take out their own student health and nursing care insurances. This offer is valid at the latest until the end of the semester in which the student reaches the age of 30. Beyond this point in time certain conditions, such as the type of training, family reasons or personal reasons, may justify an extension of the age limit or an extension of the maximum duration of studies. The statutory and private health insurance funds offer special student rates.

Detailed information can be found on the homepage of the AOK for example.