Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Who is eligible for financial aid?

I applied for a grant with my canton but have not received an answer yet. Can I still submit an application to the Financial Aid Office?

Yes. The Financial Aid Office also offers secondary support. The canton’s decision on granting aid can be factored in at a later date. You should try to apply to your canton as early as you can – at best, well before the submission deadline.

What is the limit on my/my parents’ income for me to still qualify for financial aid?

These limits vary widely from canton to canton. The Financial Aid Office sets the limit at CHF 86,000.- (taxable income) per year and CHF 300,000- in assets. The amount increases if you have siblings dependent on your parents.

My parents own property. Am I still eligible for financial aid?

If your parents have a mortgage on the property, you may still qualify for financial aid.

My parents earn enough to provide me with financial support. However, they don’t want to support me, or they don’t want to support me fully. What can I do?

At the Financial Aid Office, we inform you about your rights, obligations and alternatives. Please call and make an appointment with us.

The time limit for my eligibility for cantonal grants has run out. Can I apply for aid at the Student Financial Aid Office?

In many cases, yes. Please call and make an appointment with us.

What counts as a first and what as a second professional qualification?

A first professional qualification is generally vocational training or a university program of study directly after finishing school. The Swiss Matura is not a professional qualification. A second professional qualification could be, for example, a university study program after you have completed vocational training. The Financial Aid Office does NOT offer support for a second program of study begun after having already earned a university degree.

I don’t qualify for financial aid in my canton. Can I still apply for aid at the Student Financial Aid Office?

In many cases, yes. Please call and make an appointment with us.

How can I finance my doctoral studies?

I am a foreign national and would like to study at the University of Zurich. Can I apply for financial aid?

You can after completing the assessment level. If your grades are very good (an average of a 5 in the Swiss grading system) you might be eligible after the first semester. Foreign Master’s students only qualify for support if they completed their Bachelor’s degree at a Swiss institute of higher education. German students should first submit a BAföG application in Germany.

My application for a grant from the canton was refused and I would like to appeal against the decision. Where can I get help?

We will be happy to evaluate your situation and see if an appeal is advisable. Please arrange an appointment with us.

I am 25 years old (or older) and my parents no longer want to support me. What should I do?

Your parents have an obligation under Article 276/277 ZGB to provide you with financial support during your first program of education leading to a professional qualification. In case of difficulty, please call and make an appointment with us.

Can I choose the foundation I want to support me?

We place a request in your name with a given foundation in order to raise your chances of receiving aid. The requests are placed based on a given foundation’s purpose. These decisions rest with us.

Can I be sure I will receive long-term aid from your office if I have received a grant once?

If there are no major changes in your financial situation or your academic achievement, yes. We make every effort to offer you long-term financial aid. Nevertheless, you do not have a legal claim to aid, and a positive decision once does not presuppose further positive decisions.

Money

Will I receive less aid if I work alongside my studies?

No. That is only the case if you earn more than CHF 6,000.- per year.

When and how are the grants paid?

Payment takes place bi-annually. You have to wait 6–8 weeks after the submission deadline has expired for a decision. During this time we will review your application. We will send you written notice of the decision.

How much money can I reckon with?

The official cost of studying is CHF 24,000.- per year for single students without children. Deducted from this is the economically justifiable contribution your parents can make (contingent on income and assets) as well as CHF 6,000.- which is considered to be a feasible contribution through a side job on your part – regardless of whether you work or not.

My cantonal grants haven’t been paid yet and I have run out of money. What should I do?

If your case is justified, we can offer help quickly in the form of a short-term loan through our hardship fund. Be sure to submit your application for a cantonal grant as early as possible – at best, well before the submission deadline.

How much support do my parents have to offer?

The so-called justifiable parental contribution is contingent on income and assets. To evaluate the situation, we will need your parents’ most recent tax documents (tax return and official statement on taxable income.) Please call and make an appointment with us.

Grants

In what canton should I submit an application for financial aid?

In your parents' legal canton of residence. Click here to see the exceptions.

I applied for a grant with my canton but have not received an answer yet. Can I still submit an application to the Financial Aid Office?

Yes. The Financial Aid Office also offers subsidiary support. The canton’s decision on granting aid can be factored in at a later date. You should try to apply to your canton as early as you can – at best, well before the submission deadline.

Am I legally entitled to receiving financial aid?

If your parents do not earn enough, you do have a basic right to receive financial aid from the canton during your regular studies. Our office, however, works exclusively with private foundations whose payments are made according to their individual foundation regulations. These do not necessarily include a legal obligation to provide aid.

Where does money for grants/loans come from?

As a rule, the money results from interest returns in private foundations that were created with a certain purpose in mind. The loans and the solidarity funds for foreign students are partially financed by students themselves. Some resources are from internal university funds.

Are applications processed according to their date of submission?

Yes and no. We generally review applications in the order we receive them. Further processing, however, depends on when the foundations hold their council meetings.

When and how are the grants paid?

Payment takes place bi-annually. You have to wait 6–8 weeks after the submission deadline has expired for a decision. During this time we will review your application. We will send you written notice of the decision.

Should I apply for a loan or a grant?

Generally, we recommend applying for a grant for your first program of education as well as – for the most part – for your second program of education. You should apply for a loan if you require a large budget or your parents earn too much for you to qualify for aid.

Taxes

I /my parents haven't received a statement on taxable income yet. What should I do?

To start, you can submit the tax return. You can send us the statement on taxable income at a later point in time.

My parents won't grant me access to their tax form. What should I do?

Your parents can send us their tax forms directly, without you seeing them.

What is taxable income?

Taxable income is your income after all legal deductions have been made (see tax return.).

What are taxable assets?

Taxable assets are your assets after all legal deductions have been made (see tax return.)

What are net assets?

Net assets are you assets minus debt but without the tax exemption from your community or municipality. The Student Financial Aid Office bases its computations on net assets.

Application forms/necessary documents

What is a semester report?

You should write a detailed semester report (only for repeat applicants) on a separate page, roughly 3/4 to 1 page. Your report serves the council at the foundation supporting you as a full statement of accounts. Write down what you are particularly interested in, what you like about your studies, how your studies are progressing, and, of course, what you have focused on. There are no formal conventions for your report. If you like, you can write a letter to the foundation's council members with a friendly "thank you very much," or you can write an essay – whatever suits you best. Be sure to sign the report!

Are applications processed according to their date of submission?

Yes and no. We generally review applications in the order we receive them. Further processing, however, depends on when the foundations hold their council meetings.

What is the difference between the Leistungsübersicht (summary of credits) and the Leistungsausweis (transcript of records)?

You can print the summary of credits yourself where you book modules. The faculties will send you your transcript of records on request.

What is the assessment level?

Many subjects have a 2-semester assessment level which forms the basis for further studies. It is worth 60 ECTS credits.