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A scholarship ( Latin scholarship , payment of an amount, pay, wages) is a financial or non-material support for artists , athletes , schoolchildren , students or young scientists (who are then referred to as scholarship holders ) and as such is an essential element of the promotion of talented people .

Concept history

In the 16./17. In the 19th century the meaning of the term scholarship changed, which it apparently retained in its ambiguity until the 18th century. With a first look at George's detailed Latin-German concise dictionary , you can find out its composition of “stips and pendo” and that it is “paid individually”. The following are given as translation options: tax, tribute, contribution, customs, punishment, assistance, support, wages, wages, metonymically also military service and military career. The German Foreign Dictionary provides more detailed information about the individual word components : " stips 'money contribution, donation' [...] and pendere 'weigh, pay'", although a more detailed explanation of "stips" is missing here.

But here Krünitz helps : “Stips, with the Romans, an ace, or at least it should be that much. [...] This coin was given as alms, or when voluntary collections were collected. ”This explains his later change to aid for learners. For the time being, however, the Roman citizens also began to give this coin to gladiators or at the funeral of men who had rendered services to the state. In Middle Latin, stips was then called “'alms for poorer students'”. Around 1500 one borrowed the “scholarship” meaning “livelihood; (ecclesiastical) benefices; Income, salary of a teacher, principal ”.

At the beginning of the 16th century, the current meaning first appeared in the sources: “‚ financial support, training allowance; Study 'research grant' for needy, eligible pupils, students, (younger) scientists and artists, previously also for 'free places in the alumni of a school and teaching establishment, in the office of a university' ”. Scholarships were therefore also used as a synonym for alumni, free place, free space, "occasionally also used for the community center, the Burse, because often a free place in such a place is associated with a scholarship".

However, as early as the end of the 16th century the term was extended to non-school areas as “‚ financial support, entertainment; (Money) foundation; (Fixed) earnest money for specific purposes ', especially since the late 19th century [it has been proven] in the church sector for' Foundation for the financing of masses , especially soul masses ; Messhandgeld for priests or sacristans'. ”This is why many church reference works refer to the“ Messstipendium ”. In the references of the German Foreign Dictionary there are also other synonymous uses: Soldt, Pfrunden, Almosen, Beneficien, Freytisch -stellen, Bursche, Salaria, Donatio, Dotates, Legatum, Subsidium, Stiftung.

Awarding Practice and Scholarship Benefits

Scholarships are awarded on the basis of political and social criteria or particularly good performance. They also serve to promote research in specific areas. A scholarship can be paid at the beginning of a degree or for certain phases of an academic career, for example for a dissertation . In many cases, the money is paid directly to the students, either as a grant or to cover all costs during the term. Scholarships are granted by various organizations, for example foundations, associations or even the educational institutions themselves. In the Anglo-American region, a scholarship is a tried and tested practice, as there are - compared to Germany - a large number of private schools and only a few state universities .


In Germany you usually have to apply for a scholarship to a foundation that promotes talented students. Some of the largest organizations for the promotion of talented students receive funding from the BMBF to support their scholarship holders. There is also the possibility of applying to your home university for the Germany Scholarship, which includes financial support of 300 euros per month. In addition, the non-university research institutions Helmholtz Association , Fraunhofer Society , Max Planck Society and Leibniz Association award scholarships to doctoral candidates and postdocs. Companies, municipalities and private individuals also award scholarships.

Some of these foundations are of a political or ecclesiastical nature, which means, for example, with a party affiliated foundation , you have to be able to prove that you are at least open to the principles of the “mother party”. In addition to membership, the foundations of the Christian churches also require a thematic reference to religion or theology . If this is not the case, the scholarship will not be accepted even in the case of outstanding academic performance; Nevertheless, scholarship holders are also accepted into the party-affiliated foundations, who, although in principle agree with the respective ideals, express criticism in detail and attach importance to continuing to adopt an open attitude towards party politics. Above all, the applicant's character traits, which can be proven through social, societal or political commitment, are decisive for acceptance into the scholarship, because the foundations attach great importance to promoting responsible young people.

The awarding modes are different for the respective foundations. For example, there is usually a written application (based on a proposal and written expert opinion, usually from two lecturers ) in the first round, followed by selection conferences or direct selection interviews at the university location. The procedure can sometimes include individual presentations, exams and group discussions, but in any case personal selection interviews.

The specific services include a monthly grant, which is partly based on the current BAföG rate . There are also independent so-called tuition fees (formerly: book allowances ). Access to internships is facilitated and academic and economic relationships are mediated. There are surcharges for a stay abroad and, under certain circumstances, subsidies for health insurance. In return for most of the foundations, participation in foundation seminars, meetings in the groups of scholarship holders and the preparation of annual reports are mandatory. Some scholarships also offer the option of free participation in seminars, workshops, excursions, holiday academies or language courses.

However, there are also general scholarships which, for example, accept highly gifted pupils or students for support without paying attention to their political or religious attitudes. In the case of students and academics, the conditions for a scholarship are usually only met in later semesters, as it is often only from this point in time that appropriate grades or proof of performance can be presented. For example, doctoral students only receive a temporary grant after their projects and résumés have been reviewed several times.

Those who have already been awarded an academic degree can apply for a so-called graduate scholarship . The award contributes financially to the deepening of the studies or the implementation of research projects of graduates. Graduate scholarships are awarded , for example, by the German Academic Exchange Service .

The advancement grant from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research has a special position . The program is aimed at particularly committed and motivated professionals and supports an initial university degree. Important prerequisites for an application are a completed vocational training, at least two years of professional experience after the training as well as proof of the special professional ability (e.g. overall grade of the training examination or a reasoned suggestion from the employer). The application is usually made before the start of studies. There is no formal age limit.

There are special foreign scholarships that young researchers can use to finance a year abroad. A special feature among the foreign scholarships is the travel grant from the German Archaeological Institute .

There are also a large number of scholarships in the cultural and artistic field that have the character of awards or prizes. Here are just a few examples: The Villa Massimo scholarships , the residence scholarships from the Künstlerdorf Schöppingen Foundation or the scholarships from the Academy of Arts in Berlin. In addition to the pure donation of money, studio space is also provided for the scholarship holders with such artist grants.

In 2006, the organizations for the promotion of talented students supported almost 14,000 students. Full scholarships (awarded based on income) are given to around a quarter of the recipients.

social insurance

In contrast to employment , scholarships usually do not include social security such as pension insurance , maternity protection , health insurance , etc. The question of accident insurance is also partly unclear. However, scholarships may only be awarded if the activities of the scholarship holder are not subject to instructions. There are indications that the research institutions award scholarships and that the scholarship holders are nevertheless obliged to provide services in teaching and research. In individual cases, this may involve social security fraud, as the scholarship provider would actually have to employ the person concerned. Those affected have the opportunity to use a status assessment procedure to clarify whether social security contributions are actually due. These may have to be paid later by the grantor. In the past, the detection of such abusive practices led to widespread changes in procurement practices.

Tax law

In Germany, grants are mostly tax-free income for the recipient in accordance with Section 3 No. 44 EStG , provided all legal requirements are met, whereby it does not matter whether the benefit is provided by a domestic or a non-profit corporation based in the EU or EEA .


In Austria, scholarships are awarded by the study grant authority as well as by the Academy of Sciences or the National Bank's funds. A distinction is made between income-related study grants and performance grants, which are awarded based on the grade average.


The scholarship system in Switzerland consists on the one hand of the cantonal scholarship providers and on the other hand of numerous private foundations, funds and associations.


A scholarship is a voluntary gift of funds to support a person in need in their training and further education. Most of these are funds that come from the city or state treasury or from testamentary legacies / foundations. According to the founder, they are called “Princely, Countess, Adeliche, Raths scholarships, etc.” If they are intended for certain courses, they are legal, medical or theological scholarships. If a scholarship is only passed on to family members, it is a "family or gender scholarship". Depending on the amount of money, a distinction is made between small and large scholarships. Depending on whether a scholarship is for a pupil or a student, one speaks of a "school or academic scholarship".

These classifications can already be found in the Zedler Universal Lexicon , which was created in the second third of the 18th century, and they can be regarded as the first comprehensive presentation of the scholarship system for Kur-Sachsen, but also for the Reich, as will be shown later. A scholarship is always tied to various obligations that the scholarship holder must fulfill; this can be required both during and after the training. Either that he provides various services, puts himself in the service of the founder for a fixed period of time and other requirements that always depend individually on the grantor.

The Krünitz Economic Encyclopedia from the end of the 18th century shows that the awarding of scholarships was also extended to the craft and the arts during this time and was not only intended for students, as it was recognized that these branches of education are also important for welfare of the state. Or. Weissenberger put it even more aptly in the Lexicon of Pedagogy from 1915: “State u. Church, Society, etc. The bourgeoisie, in short the entire intellectual life of a people, is supported by the institution u. Granting of S. [scholarships] deeply touched. "

The administration of the scholarships was initially the responsibility of an administrator appointed by the founder or an administrative committee. With the formation of the state in the early modern period and then reinforced again with the onset of the Reformation, the Protestant authorities became administrators of the church's endowment, as the church's property was converted into community property. Thus the foundations had to be reorganized and with it the scholarships. "After the Reich Police Ordinance of 1577 (Art. XXVII § 2 and Art. XXXII § 4) had obliged the secular authorities to supervise the foundations, principles of a 'foundation police' have now been developed."

The sovereigns passed laws that regulated the administration of the foundations and promoted their secularization. The individual authorities issued specific scholarship regulations, such as those carried out at Zedler for Kursachsen. Since many foundations were bequeathed directly to the educational institutions by private individuals, they were under the administration of the Church, since schooling was still the responsibility of the Churches. It was not until the 19th century that the state took over the organization of the education system, so that the administration of the scholarships fell into his portfolio. A next step was taken in the Weimar Constitution ; In Article 146, paragraphs 1 and 3, it was stipulated that the state had to give capable pupils access to higher schools and that their financial inability should not be the cause of dropping out of school.

The less well-off children were either partially or completely exempt from school fees. After 1945 these articles were incorporated into the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany , and some Länder extended this provision to include the exemption of school fees and learning materials . Here it is only scholarships in a very broad sense, since this is declared a right and is therefore no longer the voluntary gift of the founder. Today there are a large number of private and public institutions that support schoolchildren, students and young scientists in their studies with the help of grants. The number of scholarships in Germany has increased due to the introduction of tuition fees and the desired mobility during the academic career.

Web links

Wiktionary: Scholarship  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations




Individual evidence

  1. Georges: Lat.- German. Hdwb. Vol. 2, Col. 2803
  2. Information for graduates, doctoral candidates and doctoral candidates. ( Memento of the original from July 14, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. In 2006, 13,858 students received study grants, see answer from the Federal Government of March 28, 2007, BT-Drs. 16/4849 (electronic pre-drafting). (PDF; 92 kB) p. 2.
  4. In 2005, 24.66 percent, see answer of the federal government of March 28, 2007, BT-Drs. 16/4849 (electronic preliminary draft) (PDF; 92 kB), p. 3.
  5. A guide from the Education and Science Union provides an overview , see Social Insurance Guide for Doctoral Candidates ( Memento of the original from October 2, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF). @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  6. See, for example, the statement by Andreas Keller in the German Bundestag  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , P. 12 (PDF; 378 kB).@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  7. Scholarship holders can have their compulsory social insurance checked  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  8. ^ Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung GmbH: Research Grants: Undeclared Work in the Max Planck Society? June 10, 2012, accessed October 20, 2017 .
  9. Bundesfinanzhof , judgment of September 15, 2010, Az.XR 33/08.
  10. scholarship. In: Johann Heinrich Zedler : Large complete universal lexicon of all sciences and arts . Volume 40, Leipzig 1744, column 143-145.