Whether it’s a supermarket, canteen or restaurant: inflation raises food prices higher and higher. This particularly affects people on a tight budget who cannot absorb the rising costs – especially students.
Anna Koroleva is 23 years old, studies sports and biology and now has a full-time job again after short hours during the pandemic. The increasing costs did not affect her much, says the student. However, she noticed the higher prices: “Everything is getting better, especially as a student who cannot and does not want to eat too expensively.” But she is not afraid of the future.
“It’s getting worse, especially as a student who can’t and doesn’t want to eat too expensively” Anna Koroleva
She assumes that post-pandemic changes and war are the natural course of the economy and will rebalance. However, she says, many students are predisposed after the corona period: “The corona brought restrictions. Many could not work for a long time, especially those who had a job in gastronomy. And even if you can do it again now, it is difficult to balance study and work .”
SWFR tries to help everyone
There has been an exceptional situation for two years. This was confirmed by Claudia Sedelmeier, spokesperson for Studierendenwerk Freiburg (SWFR). This increases the financial burden on students. The personal financial advice offered by SWFR has been in high demand for months. In order to cope with the increasing work, the staff has been increased: “We help everyone, not just those who fall below a certain limit,” says Sedelmeier. And many need help, since the “normal” economic situation was three years ago.
“We help everyone, not just those who fall under any line” Claudia Sedelmeier
At the same time, less and less students take Bafg. With the increase in tax credits and savings, as well as the increase in Bafg rates, on June 23, the media focused on state support, but many students do not even know if they are entitled to it, do not want to get into debt or fear the bureaucracy . In addition, according to SWFR, the reforms came too late. Barriers should be further reduced to make it easier for students with financial difficulties to receive support. For students who do not receive BAfG and who are in financial need, there are other options: Sedelmeier lists, among others, loans, grants, emergency and bridging assistance.
Those who do not study often find it even more difficult
None of this help reaches 27-year-old Hansa Kalai. He studied dentistry in Tunisia and is currently completing the equivalent test at the university in order to work in Germany. He also notices an increase in prices, especially of groceries. The increase is already worrying him: “The situation is getting harder and harder. Soon I won’t be able to live here with the money I have available.” In order to save money, he will soon move to a cheaper room. But it will not be so easy: since he is not considered a student until he passes the exam, but as a self-employed person, he is not allowed to move into a student dormitory. Sijuan Zhang, a German studies student from China, reports something similar. Renting on the free housing market eats up a lot of money, which is very scarce in these times anyway. Kalai doesn’t understand: “Germany helps so many people, but they don’t learn.”
“Soon I won’t be able to live here with the money I have.” Hansa Kalai
Regardless of his situation, Kalai welcomes more support for students, after all, price increases would continue to worsen: “Not only our families should help, but also the state.” Many people around him would work part-time to make ends meet financially – “but studying and working at the same time is difficult”. Claudia Sedelmeier recommends seeking advice in cases of financial problems. This can be done after making an appointment or in the form of a short open consultation between 9 am and 5 pm every day. Here you can get an initial estimate of what help is possible.
Needs-based aid as a solution?
However, Louis Friedrich thinks it’s fair that this help is not available to everyone. The 19-year-old political science student believes that it is important to have a firm assessment of needs and clear boundaries so that those who do not need financial assistance are not supported. He counts himself among them: with a scholarship, a job at the Studierendenwerk and the support of his parents, he doesn’t have to worry, he says. However, he believes that it is necessary to bring support closer to the people who need it. It is necessary to “address people better and clearly clarify the criteria for the right to help”.
However, Louis believes that the way concerns about rising food prices are presented in the media are exaggerated. “I don’t know anyone who’s really affected by it,” he says. He himself noticed 25 cents more in the canteen, but considered it justified in the current situation. An increase in the technology or construction sectors would hit the wallet even worse: “Especially in the rental and housing areas, price increases make a big difference and it will be difficult to raise money.”
“People will ask: How do I pay the bills and go shopping?” Samira Merenz
Samira Merenz, 24 years old and also a political science student, has a similar situation: she is in good financial shape, even if she now goes to Penny more often than Edek because it is cheaper there, she says. Still, she’s worried, especially about the health of the poor: “People living on the poverty line will have to cut corners, and I’m afraid they’ll have to do that when it comes to food.” Because fruits and vegetables are expensive, unlike many unhealthy foods. But that’s probably how the decision will be made, says Merenz. “People will ask: How do I pay the bills and go shopping?”
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