What are the advantages of a scholarship?

The financial support is an essential component of a scholarship: It should make life and career easier for the scholars who deserve and/or need it. Therefore, there are monthly payments for the cost of living, as well as subsidies for books, health, and long-term care insurance or childcare.

Nevertheless, a scholarship is not just about money. Many foundations also offer comprehensive support: seminars, lectures, holiday academies, language courses, further education opportunities, offers for internships. These are additional educational opportunities.

There are also mentoring programs and meetings with former scholarship holders. This exchange is not only interesting but can also be very useful. Therefore, a scholarship brings not only monetary but also professional benefits - in the form of friends, contacts, networking opportunities.

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Last but not least, another benefit of a scholarship is the message it sends out. A scholarship is an exclamation point in the curriculum vitae that signals motivation and commitment.

Who awards study scholarships?

Many foundations give their scholarships according to completely different criteria. We listed some scholarship portals and scholarship providers as follows for your reference:

How do I find the right scholarship?

  • You can start the search by combining the search query with a keyword such as “German scholarship” or including the industry in the keyword such as “computer science”. Your search engine will give you hundreds of results, from which you can choose. But to find the “right” scholarship, pick the ones that match your profile in terms of major, academic achievements, financial needs, etc. It makes more sense to apply for two or three foundations, whose requirements you meet - with careful compiled documents - than to send ten hasty applications.
  • There are further contact points at the universities themselves, many of which now maintain scholarship units to not only organize the awarding of university-based scholarships but also advise on further funding opportunities. Sometimes, you can also ask your lecturers and professors for more information and some tips. For application, you will need a recommendation from a university lecturer anyway.

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How do I increase my chances of getting a scholarship?

Getting a scholarship is easier than you may think.

On the one hand, the equation "scholarship = talent program" is not right. Beyond the gifted foundations which require very good grades, there are also other scholarship providers who either support the need of the applicants or want to support specific target groups such as migrants - school and study performances play no or a subordinate role here. Others select their scholarship holders according to the field of study or the home region. And "talent program" does not mean that a certain grade of general qualification for university entrance or IQ is required. Even the gifted foundations do not specify a fixed upper limit for the grade. Many who do not even come up with the idea of applying for a scholarship would certainly have a chance because their grades are sufficient or they can score with personal commitment.

Anyone who has applied for a scholarship should invest the time and effort properly. This includes not only compiling the application documents, recommendation, CV and motivation letter carefully. You should think more about the foundation you sent to and prepare yourself well, instead of sending a standard application to several foundations. In the first place, applicants must become aware of their own ideas, strengths, and weaknesses: think about what their profile looks like, and then research foundations that suit them. Conversations with scholarship holders or alumni can help here. If you do not know anyone personally, you can look around on Facebook or visit the university groups, which have larger foundations at many universities.

Additionally, applicants have to find out about the requirements and eligibility criteria at the many small foundations. The chances here are often higher: On the one hand, because of their low profile, the foundations sometimes do not even have enough applications. On the other hand, the niche they occupy is often so narrow, so the competition is very little.

What do I need to apply for a scholarship?

What is included in a scholarship application is defined by the scholarship providers - and the expectations are very different. Generally, foundations expect a letter of motivation, curriculum vitae, a recommendation from your lecturer or university, credentials or an overview of past grades and application forms that you can download online and fill out.

A recommendation must be written by your lecturer or university but you, as an applicant, have a bit of influence on that because you sensibly choose an expert who knows you well and who believes you can apply for it. An applicant receives a good opinion if the assessor classifies him in three respects as particularly worthy of support - in terms of achievements, commitment, and personality.

Either way, the reviewer will find it helpful if the applicant provides him with a CV and any certificates or seminar certificates that he can use to orient himself. He should know and mention past achievements, also about interesting chores or projects, about additional qualifications such as stays abroad or internships, about the work as a tutor or in the student council.

The letter of motivation is perhaps the hardest part of the scholarship application: you have little experience with it, do not know what to expect, and sit in front of the screen without any preparation quite perplexed. If you write a letter of motivation, you should not only have thought about the respective foundation, its mission statement, and program, but also about yourself: Why do I want a scholarship? Why from this foundation? And why should this foundation just promote me?

What is the significance of a scholarship for the tax return, health insurance (Krankenversicherung) ?

For tax return:

A scholarship is tax-exempt if the following conditions are fulfilled:

  • The holders must be students who major in or do research in science and art.
  • The scholarships must be granted by a public/governmental institution or foundation.
  • The scholarship amounts must only be sufficient to cover living expenses, not more.
  • Last but not least, the scholarship holders are not subject to any employment restrictions or any further obligations.

In the case of doctoral candidates or postdocs, tax exemption is only possible if they are not under any obligation decided by the providing companies and institutions. Also, the research cannot last more than 10 years. Otherwise, the scholarships will be taxed.

For health insurance:

In most cases, a scholarship is a one-time or regular payment to cover the living or some other special expenses. However, it does not count as labor income, because the respective foundations do not pay pensions, unemployment or health insurance for its fellows, just as the recipients do not have to pay social security contributions. That's why scholarship holders have to pay for the insurance by themselves. However, sometimes the scholarship providers will pay up to €62 a month as a contribution to health insurance, depending on the recipients' financial situations.