Advice on Studying Abroad with a Child

It looks like a mountain of work, but students with children are not entirely on their own when it comes to organizing the event. The first point of contact is the International Office of the home university. Here, students can find tips for organizing their studies abroad and information on possible funding measures and scholarships.

Going to the family or equality office can also be worthwhile. Some of the employees are aware of special support aids for students with children at the university. Those who do not organize their semester abroad through their home university can, for example, turn to student advice centers and placement offices, who are also happy to provide free advice and assistance.

Once students have decided on a country and a university, they can inquire about the support situation on site at the international office of the host university. This makes it possible to find out at an early stage whether there are family-friendly apartments for students with children, which residential areas are suitable for mothers with children or whether the university offers its own childcare. The International Office may also be able to help you find an apartment.

There are also other contacts:

  • Central office for schools abroad for parents with school-age children
  • German consulates general, especially for studying in the USA. Here you can find information on German-American schools and German kindergartens, for example.

Anyone looking for a connection to children’s or play groups at the place of study can contact day-care centers for children. In some cases, similar groups can also be found on Facebook. With a little luck, students will receive support in organizing childcare and looking for accommodation from mothers and fathers on site.

Cost calculation and sources of finance

Studying abroad, especially with a child, depends on the financing. It is therefore advisable to get an overview of the costs incurred before applying to the host university. The following costs are to be expected:

Costs in advance

  • Costs for travel documents: Since 2012, all children need a children’s passport for trips abroad. This can be extended up to and including 12 years of age. Parents need a passport to travel outside the EU.
  • if applicable, costs for visas
  • if applicable, international driving license for non-European countries
  • Foreign health insurance
  • Incidental travel costs, for example for health measures such as vaccinations
  • if applicable, costs for taking part in academic admission tests or language tests for studying abroad
  • Travel and transport costs

Costs on site

  • tuition fee
  • Cost of living
  • Childcare costs

Basically, it is advisable to build up a certain amount of money for the stay abroad so that you can react calmly to unforeseen events, such as a car breakdown. This makes life more relaxed on site and at the same time keeps the option open for spontaneous excursions or other leisure activities.

Financial aid for studying abroad with a child

There is a whole range of financial support for studying abroad with a child. With many scholarships in particular, it is important to apply as early as possible, preferably around a year in advance.

In many cases it is worthwhile to apply for BAföG abroad. The application should be submitted to the responsible BAföG office or student union nine to six months before departure at the latest. Those eligible for funding not only receive a subsidy for tuition fees of up to EUR 4,600 per year and a flat-rate travel allowance. There is also a childcare allowance for children up to and including the age of ten. Parents receive 113 EUR per month for the first child and 85 EUR for each additional child.

Important: BAföG recipients should remember that they usually have to advance the tuition fees before they are reimbursed by the BAföG office.

Apart from BAföG abroad, various scholarships from religiously-related or party-affiliated foundations are possible. As a rule, scholarship holders with children receive a childcare allowance in addition to the actual scholarship. Sometimes there is a surcharge for the accompanying spouse or registered partner.

Here are some examples of scholarships:

  • DAAD scholarships
  • Scholarships from the organizations for the promotion of talented students
  • Scholarship from the Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard Foundation for female doctoral candidates in certain departments with children
  • Scholarship from the Cusanuswerk for students of Catholic denomination

For students who neither receive BAföG abroad nor can get hold of a scholarship, there is the option of taking out a student loan. The Hildegardis Association offers an interest-free student loan especially for students of Christian faith with children.

When it comes to studying abroad and child benefit, it is important to note that only parents who are resident in Germany or who are fully subject to income tax are entitled to child benefit.

Childcare abroad

No study abroad with a child without a secure childcare place. Depending on the age of the child, young mothers and fathers have to look out for other childcare options in the destination country.

Care for toddlers

For small children, for example, a place in a day-care center or privately organized care by a housekeeper, nanny or someone you trust is an option. Ideally, the host university has its own day-care center. This is usually the cheapest and most convenient option.

Which type of childcare is the right one depends on the individual financial situation. All-day care in a daycare facility can be expensive in some countries, such as the United States. Parents who go abroad together have the advantage that they can agree on childcare times and require less comprehensive childcare options.

Of course, a mix of different care options is also conceivable. For example, young mothers and fathers can take a part-time place in a daycare center and – if necessary – organize a nanny on certain days. In general, it makes sense to look for international daycare centers and kindergartens. Here the children are offered a varied program and they get the chance to come into contact with their peers from different countries.

Find a school place

For school-age children, it is important to organize a school place at an early stage. When choosing a school, the child’s language skills play an important role. Many parents choose an international or bilingual school in order not to make it unnecessarily difficult for their offspring to move. In addition to the individual schools, possible contacts here are the central office for schools abroad or the local education authority.

Regardless of the age of the child, the following applies: If there is a childcare place in Germany, this should be terminated in good time. In addition, it is advisable to organize care for the time after your return in order to enable a smooth change of location. The same applies to changing schools: Here, too, it makes sense to inform class teachers and school management in Germany at an early stage.

If the financial situation permits, it is advisable to visit the place of study for the first time around three months before the start of the course. You can visit possible childcare facilities, schools and apartments. This enables students to better assess the local situation.

Family-friendly living abroad

Student dormitories are often the cheapest option while studying abroad. Since the way of life of students differs considerably from that of a young family, many parents are looking for other forms of housing. Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to inquire about family-friendly apartments in the student dormitory at the host university in advance.

The following types of living are available as alternatives:

  • furnished apartment
  • furnished room with a host family
  • unfurnished apartment for students who complete a study abroad spend

International housing exchanges are often helpful when looking for accommodation. The student offices also advertise apartments. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of organizing an apartment remotely, you can use an interim solution. For example, the online accommodation service Airbnb can be used to temporarily book accommodation from local hosts. Looking for an apartment on site is easier, but it also means additional organizational effort.

In any case, it is advisable to look for accommodation that is within reach of the university and the child’s care facility. In larger cities in particular, tenants from other countries have to pay higher deposits than locals. This should be taken into account when planning costs. In some cases, proof of income is also required, but this can also be provided by the student’s partner or parents.

From visa to insurance – further preparations

In addition to the search for childcare offers and a suitable apartment, there are other points to consider when preparing for a stay abroad with a child.

Studying in a non-European country requires a visa, which students must apply for in good time. Children and spouses need their own visa. An important prerequisite for the issuing of a visa is proof of sufficient financial resources. This is to ensure that the family can be looked after abroad. The exact entry and visa requirements differ from country to country.

Even if the stay abroad is only imminent, it makes sense to think about your return journey early on and to deal with the customs regulations. Anyone who travels with the whole family to a non-European country and would like to take certain valuables back with them should register them with customs before leaving the country. This can often save a lot of time on re-entry.

Another key point is health insurance. When studying abroad in Europe, your own health insurance company is the first point of contact. It is important to clarify with this person whether additional insurance is required. Anyone going abroad outside Europe is to take out a medical insurance for parents and child is essential. In some countries universities offer certain insurance packages. However, students should carefully check whether the package covers all important services and whether the insurance cover is sufficient.

The health care before the stay abroad is an important point. Depending on the goal of the study, it may be necessary to refresh or catch up on certain vaccinations. A vaccination check makes sense 1 year in advance.

Advice on Studying Abroad with a Child