You will need to take a variety of factors into account as you consider whether to take a leave of absence. Whatever you choose, take your time making this important decision.
Students can take a leave of absence if they are pregnant, soon to give birth or planning on taking a period of Elternzeit (parental leave). Both parents may take a leave of absence, simultaneously if they like.
Contact Student Affairs and Teaching to request a leave of absence for the respective reason. A leave of absence lasts an entire semester and must be requested for each semester individually. You can do so even if the semester has already started.
No BAföG funding during a leave of absence
During your leave of absence, you may not apply for BAföG funding. In certain cases, it can thus be advantageous not to take a leave of absence. If you are on leave of absence, you can however request ALG II unemployment benefits. Contact your local Arbeitsagentur (federal job agency), to clarify whether you should apply.
Leave of absence for Mutterschutz (maternity leave)
If they cannot complete their study requirements in the current semester, expectant mothers can request a leave of absence for the period of their Mutterschutz (maternity leave) beginning six weeks before the due date and lasting until eight weeks after giving birth. Even first-semester students may request this leave of absence.
If you would like to take a leave of absence due to pregnancy, you will need to submit your “Mutterpass” (record of prenatal and natal care) as documentation.
Leave of absence for Elternzeit (parental leave)
Students with children may request a leave of absence for all or part of the first three years of the child’s life (a maximum of 6 semesters). These semesters may also be “saved up” for later use until the child reaches his/her eighth birthday. You will need to submit your child's birth certificate in order to request a leave of absence for Elternzeit (parental leave). Even first-semester students may request this leave of absence.
Other regulations apply to non-EU citizens
If the parents-to-be are citizens of non-EU countries, only the mother may apply for Elternzeit (parental leave). In this case, different regulations of the Ausländerbehörde (foreigners registration office) apply.
Even after taking up to six semesters leave of absence for maternity/parental leave, you may take a leave of absence to care for your children. In this case, however, you will need to apply for a regular leave of absence and may not complete any credits or performance assessments, and you may not use any of the university facilities with the exception of the library.