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 Studierendenwerk and the various support options for students with disabilities.
1) In which areas is the Studierendenwerk responsible?
The Studierendenwerk Freiburg-Schwarzwald, or SWFR for short, is responsible for providing social, cultural and financial support and advice to 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 in the Social Counseling Service of the Studierendenwerk?
The social counselors Barbara Toth and Nerea Ulrich share the position in the social counseling. They are the representatives for students with disabilities in the Studierendenwerk. 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 the SWFR contact persons?
The social workers Ms. Toth and Ms. Ulrich offer advice 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 with personal or study-related problems turn to?
In addition to the Social Counseling Service, there is also a Psychotherapeutic Counseling Service, or PBS for short, at SWFR. 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 what about financial difficulties?
The counseling services offered by the Studierendenwerk consist of social counseling, 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 dining halls for students in need) and scholarships.
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!
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 wohngeld.org (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.
With the SemesterTicket, students can travel for an entire semester for only €89 on the entire network of the Freiburg Regional Transport Authority (RVF). The SemesterTicket is valid for all city trains, buses and suburban trains (2nd class / no ICE and IC / EC trains) in the city of Freiburg and in the districts of Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald and Emmendingen. Students can thus use it not only for journeys to university, but also during their free time.
It is available for students of the following universities:
- Evangelische Hochschule
- Hochschule Macromedia Freiburg
- Hochschule für Musik
- Internationale Studien- und Berufsakademie ISBA
- Katholische Hochschule
- Pädagogische Hochschule
The SemesterTicket is available at the VAG pluspunkt in Salzstraße 3 at the Bertoldsbrunnen or at the bike station at the main train station, at DB sales points and vending machines as well as at the SBG customer centers. The student ID serves as proof.
Alternatively, students from other universities can use the RegioKarte Schüler or the SchülerAbo in the RVF.
You can find more information about the SemesterTicket here.