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Grants and residency requirements

Germany judged for forbidding nonresidents students from receiving financial aid

Europe´s highest court dealt another attempts of member states to bolster residency requirements for students receiving subsidized higher education.

Germany gives students a one-year grant for college studies in another EU statem but students that want to extend the grant for more than the first year must prove they lived in Germany for at least three years without interruption before they began their studies.

Germany used the law against two of its own nationals who left Germany as children with their parents, and returned a few months shy of the three-year requirement.

The German government argued that its scheme guarantees financial aid only for students who have sufficiently integrated themselves into German society, saving the country from unnecessary financial burden.

The Luxembourg-based court found Thursday, however, that it also infringes on citizens´ constitutional right to freedom of movement.

The EU court notes that if a member state provides for a system of education or training grants that enables students to receive such grants in another member state, it has to ensure that the detailed rules for the award of the grants do not create an unjustified restriction of the right to move and reside within the territory of the member states.

The German government argued that this residence condition is justified because it guarantees that an education grant for a full course of studies abroad is paid only to students able to demonstrate a “sufficient degree of integration” into German society.

The requirement of a minimum level of integration thus preserves the national scheme for education grants for studies abroad by protecting the state paying the grant from an unreasonable financial burden.

The court consequently ruled that the condition of uninterrupted residence of three years in Germany runs counter to freedom of movement for citizens of the European Union.

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