All-round satisfaction with your studies
Social Counseling

As a student you are often financially dependent. It is not so easy to make progress in your studies and at the same time handle the financing. We will advise you on which social services you qualify for, as well as how and where to apply.

We are here to help you with questions and concerns related to these topics:

In times of pandemic, the situation on the job market has become even more difficult. Therefore, it is even more important to pay attention to the allowances for part-time jobs with regard to family insurance, BAföG and social insurance.

We also support you in special life situations, as an international student or when you become a mother or father during your studies. We help you to cope with difficult situations such as illness or disability. Last but not least, we advise you on health insurance, GEZ fees and housing subsidies. We also advise you on what you need to bear in mind when making the transition from your studies to your career.

Find out about topics such as social insurance and emergency funds here on our site.

We are available to you by phone, through our online counseling service, and soon by video chat if you wish. We will listen to you and answer all your detailed questions.

Social counselling on the following topics
We offer
Social counselling on the following topics

Social counselling on the following topics
We offer
Social counselling on the following topics

Emergency Financial aid

Bridging aid

In times of economic hardship, students can apply for a bridging loan of 250 euros on short notice. For this purpose, a consultation with a social counselor is necessary, with whom, among other things, needs are clarified. Please bring a valid ID and a current certificate of study to this interview. A guarantor is not required.

Aid for uncovered medical costs

The Cologne Studierendenwerk can provide a grant for uncovered medical costs incurred for medical treatment, dentures and prosthetics. The condition is that the treatment or medical aids are required by a doctor. Needs must be proven and other financing possibilities for the costs must be exhausted. In principle, only simple versions of medical aids are subsidized.

Loans and grants from the KStW relief fund

In the event of an unforeseeable emergency through no fault of one's own, and which has a lasting negative effect on the course of study, students can apply for an interest-free loan from the Cologne Studierendenwerk. A guarantor is required. All financial aid options such as BAföG, KFW-Studienkredit, Bildungskredit des Bundes, DAKA loans and, if applicable, final loans from the university must be exhausted. The requirements for the loan must be clarified in a personal consultation.

Social loans from Cologne Student Unions

The AStA of the university supports financially distressed students for one month with an interest-free short-term loan of up to 300 euros. The loans are granted at the AStA advisory office in the Canteen at Zülpicher Str. 70 during BAföG office hours. The AStA can be reached by email at Sozialreferat@asta.uni-koeln.de or by phone at 0221 470 6251.

To the → services of the AStAS

The AStA of the Cologne University of Technology grants a one-time interest-free loan of 250€. A guarantor is necessary. The repayment modalities will be agreed upon in an individual consultation. Further information can be found at the Social Counseling department of the Cologne TH

To → Social Counseling of the AStA Cologne TH

Debt counselling

Students who are in debt and no longer have their financial situation under control should contact a debt counselling center as soon as possible. A contact in Cologne where you can receive

debtor and insolvency advice is

the Diakonisches Werk Köln und Region

Kartäusergasse 9 - 11

50678 Cologne



Tuesdays from 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Tel. 0221 16038 - 66


Academic Financing

Here is the quick and dirty description of the advantages and disadvantages of your options:


BAföG is the abbreviation for Bundesausbildungsförderung (Federal Higher Education Assistance) and is the most important financial aid for students. You can get more detailed information and concrete inquiries here: BAföG overview


Student loans of Daka

The loan fund of the Studierendenwerk (DAKA) offers students an interest-free student loan for studies at a state university in Cologne, the Catholic University of North Rhine-Westphalia and the CBS International Business School. A guarantor is required for this. Your contacts for information and personal advice at the Cologne Studierenwerk are Melanie Kürten and Hülya Yildiz.

KFW student loan

The Cologne Studierendenwerk acts as a sales partner of the KFW Bank and arranges KFW student loans. This student loan can be offered as flexible monthly installments independent of income, assets and loan collateral. You can get more information here:

To the KfW overview page

Federal education loan

All students who are also entitled to BAföG can apply for a low-interest educational loan from the Federal Administrative Office from the third semester onwards. It is limited to a maximum of 24 months. Further information can be obtained from the Department of Student Financing of the Cologne Studierendenwerk or from → Bundesverwaltungsamt or the telephone hotline 0228 993 58 - 4492.

Student support fund of the university

Students at the University of Cologne, the German Sport University and the University of Music and Dance can obtain a loan for their degree through the Student Support Fund. Further information is available from Anneke Kuck at the SSC of the University of Cologne (Mondays by appointment) Tel. 0221 470 - 7141.


Side Jobs

Many students take on a part-time job to help pay for their studies

There are different types of part-time jobs for students:

  • Limited employment, also called a mini-job or 450 euro-job
  • Employment with an income of over 450 euros per month
  • Working student
  • Seasonal employment or job during semester break
  • Part time job
  • Fee-based employment

For any kind of side job you should consider the following aspects:

  • Does the monthly income go above the income limits of your health insurance or BAföG?
  • Is the job offer free of social security contributions, i.e. does this form of employment still count as just a side job so that I can stay on my student health insurance?
  • Do I have to pay income tax?

We would be happy to advise you on these questions, on the effects of different jobs on social security contributions and taxes or on the advantages and disadvantages of jobs subject to social security contributions.

A good overview of this topic is provided by → German Studentenwerk (Deutsche Studentenwerk)


Compulsory social insurance for students

Many employers prefer to employ students without or with low social security contributions. In this way they can reduce their tax burden. For students it could make sense to take a half-day job that is subject to social security contributions, if it is compatible with their studies in terms of time and resources. A part-time job can be a good start into professional life by gaining important experience. If you are under 25, for example, it may be worthwhile to forego your family’s insurance and work for social insurance.

Overview of compulsory social insurance:

As a student you pay contributions to health, nursing care, unemployment and pension insurance,

when you

  • regularly work more than 20 hours per week
  • take a full-time job for more than three months
  • If you are employed for 26 weeks or more in various, temporary, full-time jobs per year.

You must pay pension insurance contributions if you

  • earn more than 450 euros per month
  • are only employed full-time during the semester break

You don’t have to pay any social security contributions if

  • your earnings are not more than 450 euros per month
  • you do not work more than three months or 70 working days per calendar year, which also applies to the semester break.
  • you are doing an intermediate internship due to study regulations.

We can give you more information about this at the Social Counseling department. Student advisors from the various health insurance companies are also important contacts for questions regarding social insurance.


Health insurance

When you enroll at a state or state-recognized university, you are required to have health insurance.

Family insurance up to the age of 25

Up to age 25, students can be co-insured with their parents free of charge, as long as they are in a public health insurance scheme and your monthly income does not exceed 425 euros or 450 euros for a mini-job.

Compulsory student insurance

If you opt out of your family insurance or if your income exceeds the above-mentioned amount, you can insure yourself at a student rate. The costs, including long-term care insurance, are usually between 100 and 120 euros per month for public health insurance companies.

Voluntary health insurance

After the end of your studies or when you reach the age of 30, compulsory student insurance ends. Then there is the possibility to take out voluntary public or private health insurance. Here the costs vary. There are exceptional circumstances which justify an extension of the student insurance (e.g. compensation for disadvantages).

Private or public health insurance?

If your parents have private health insurance, you can decide to enrol with a public health insurance when you start your studies. However, you will then have to pay the above mentioned student rate. For children of civil servants it can be advantageous to stay in their parents' private health insurance.

Attention, during your studies you cannot switch between insurance systems!

Details can be obtained from our counseling service or from student counselors from the public health insurance companies.

The following article by the German Studentenwerk provides some tips to help you decide on the right type of health insurance for your studies

To the article → Private health insurance: Sensible alternative? (Private Krankenversicherung: Sinnvolle Alternative?)

Health insurance for international students

If you are studying in Germany, you must have health insurance. In many cases, the compulsory nature of having health insurance gives you the right to membership in a public health insurance company. (GKV) The membership in a GKV can also be advantageous for many international students because it offers comprehensive health protection. Private health insurance companies can be cheaper, but less comprehensive. The German Studentenwerk has summarized a lot of important information about health insurance for you here:

Information for international students: Health insurance

We advise you to do the research and to weigh the pros and cons carefully.

You can also contact the Social Counseling department of the Cologne Studierendenwerk, which will give you free and confidential advice.

Private Health Insurance "VELA"

The German Studentenwerk has made arrangements for a comparatively inexpensive private health insurance rate. International students over 30 or from the 14th semester onwards, doctoral students, participants in language courses preparing for university studies, or job seekers after graduation can be insured along with accompanying family members.

The tariffs VELA light, VELA optimal and VELA Basis each include different services. The option VELA optimal, which is recommended by the German Studentendenwewrk, offers comprehensive protection.

Click here for the → VELA health insurance

EU Students

As previously stated, all students who want to study at a German university need health insurance. Health insurance is also compulsory for students from other EU countries (EU/EEA). Proof of health insurance is required for enrollment at a German university. In order to use health insurance coverage from abroad in Germany, students need the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

Students from EU/EEA countries who wish to take up full-time studies in Germany can simply present the EHIC at the time of enrollment. A prerequisite is that the students must be enrolled at a German university, but still declare their residence in their home country. If students from EU/EEA countries relocate to Germany during their full-time studies (e.g. by self-financing their studies), receive German subsidies or intend to stay in Germany permanently, they will be excluded from their home health insurance. They must then purchase health insurance with a German health insurance company. Students can then present proof of German public health insurance to the university. The EHIC is actually intended for shorter journeys abroad and ensures continued medical insurance coverage.

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

How does a consultation work?

The most common form of consultation is the personal one-on-one interview. You are welcome to have someone accompany you to the appointment. If possible, please let us know beforehand so that we can prepare for it.

Contact: see above.


What special support services are available?

We listen to you and discuss which topics are most urgent for you. The Studierendenwerk can directly offer you the following support: Bridging loans, loans or grants from the aid fund as well as grants from the health promotion fund in case of uncovered medical costs. We will clarify with you in a personal conversation whether you meet the requirements and what to do next. If necessary, we will put you in touch with other professionals or help you communicate with the authorities.

Who will I deal with?

The following people are currently part of the social counseling team:

  • Filiz Akçay (social worker / social pedagogue M.A.)
  • Christian Gärtner (certified pedagogue)

Are the consultants really qualified?

We attach great importance to a high standard of counseling and the qualifications of the people who offer social counseling. The counselors are specialized in topics in social law and keep their expertise up to date through regular training.

Do I have to pay anything?

Social counseling for students and prospective students is basically free of charge, regardless of the number of appointments.

Didn't answer your question?

We are happy to help! Just call:

Mo – Thu 9 am – 1 pm
Thu 2 pm – 4:30 pm
Fri 8:30 – 2 pm
Tel. 0221 168 815 - 0