What is Wohngeld? A Guide for Students and Pupils in Germany

Wohngeld is a housing allowance for people with low incomes in Germany. This allowance is applied for at the local housing office and depends on the amount of rent and household income. There are also upper limits, which depend on the place of residence and the number of household members. So, you would probably receive more Wohngeld in Munich than in Berlin.

Who is eligible for Wohngeld?

According to §3 WoGG, almost everyone who has rented an apartment is also entitled to apply for Wohngeld. However, as a general rule, all students and pupils who could potentially receive BAföG are initially excluded from Wohngeld, since BAföG already includes a housing allowance.

Requirements for Wohngeld for Students and Pupils

Students and pupils can receive Wohngeld if their education (school or university) is not eligible for BAföG funding. This applies to several cases, such as:

  • Exceeding the age limit at the beginning of studies (45 years)
  • Failure to provide proof of achievement after the 4th semester without deferral
  • Exceeding the standard period of study without an accepted reason for extension
  • Termination or change of studies after the 4th semester
  • Part-time enrollment
  • Leave of absence from studies (sabbatical semester)
  • Starting a second degree (e.g., a second bachelor’s)
  • Non-state-recognized educational institution

In all these cases, you may not be eligible for BAföG but can instead apply for Wohngeld. The negative BAföG decision serves as proof for the Wohngeld office.

Wohngeld and Income

Wohngeld is always calculated for the entire household. This means that as a student with BAföG, you can still be eligible for Wohngeld if you live with a partner or family members who are not eligible for BAföG themselves. In this case, the entire household income is taken into account.

Household vs. Shared Living

Living together does not automatically make you and your roommates a household. In a purely functional shared living arrangement, each occupant is considered a separate household. Therefore, the Wohngeld claim is not automatically transferred from one person to another in such a situation.

Income Limits for Wohngeld

Your eligibility for Wohngeld depends on your household income, which must fall within certain limits that depend on your place of residence (rental level) and the number of household members. You can view the exact income limits in the table of income limits.

Wohngeld Minimum Income

You can have too much income or too little income for Wohngeld. Unlike Hartz 4 or BAföG, you must prove a certain minimum income for Wohngeld. This amounts to 80% of the Hartz 4 standard rate. If you fall below this, Wohngeld will be denied.

Heating Allowance for Wohngeld Recipients 2022

Due to rising energy costs, a one-time heating allowance of 270 euros for single households or 350 euros for couples and 70 euros for each additional household member was decided. The prerequisite for this heating allowance for Wohngeld recipients is that the household receives Wohngeld during the period from 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022. The heating allowance is not paid out automatically but must be applied for separately. An application form is available for this purpose, which must be submitted to the responsible Wohngeld authority.

How to Apply for Wohngeld: Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Use the Wohngeld calculator: Before submitting your application, you can use a Wohngeld calculator to find out if and how much Wohngeld you could receive.
  2. Complete the application form: Download the application form and fill it out. Make sure to provide all required information and ensure the documents are complete.
  3. Attach the required documents: Various documents and proofs must be attached to the application. These include, among others:
    • Rental contract or rental certificate
    • Proof of income (pay slips, BAföG decision, etc.)
    • Proof of non-receipt of BAföG (if applicable)
  • Proof of health insurance
    • Proof of residence permit (for non-EU citizens)
  1. Submit the application: Submit the completed application form along with all the required documents to the responsible Wohngeld authority in your area. You can find the contact details of your responsible Wohngeld authority here.
  2. Wait for the decision: The processing time for a Wohngeld application can vary depending on the workload of the responsible office. It can take several weeks or even months until you receive a decision. If the office requests additional documents or information, be sure to provide them promptly.
  3. Receive the Wohngeld: If your application is approved, you will receive the Wohngeld as a monthly payment, usually transferred directly to your bank account.

Reapplication and Change of Circumstances

Wohngeld is usually granted for a period of 12 months. If your situation remains unchanged and you still need financial support, you must reapply for Wohngeld. It is recommended to submit the reapplication form at least two months before the end of the current Wohngeld period to ensure a smooth transition.

In case your living situation or income changes significantly during the Wohngeld period, you must inform the responsible Wohngeld office immediately. This can include events like moving to a new apartment, a change in rent, a new job, or the loss of a job.

Important: If you fail to report changes in your circumstances and continue to receive Wohngeld based on outdated information, you may be required to repay the overpaid amount, and you might face legal consequences.

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