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Who pays

In Switzerland, parents are in principle legally obliged to finance an education for their children that will enable them to enter working life. Often, however this is not possible in reality. Here you will find information on how to deal with this and what options are open to you.

Financing by parents

In Switzerland, the public sector – namely the cantons and municipalities – pays for education costs during compulsory schooling. However, financing a course of study at a university is largely a private matter.

Under Swiss law, parents are obliged to finance appropriate vocational training for their children that matches their abilities and inclinations.

  • Education is deemed to be completed when entry into working life is possible.
  • Parents are exempt from the obligation to pay maintenance to the extent that the child can reasonably be expected to support himself/herself by paid employment or other means.
  • The obligation of parents to pay maintenance is regulated in the Civil Code (CC Art. 276-295).
  • Swiss Civil Code – Status 1 January 2021

Your parents may not be able to finance your education due to their income and assets. If this is the case, the following options are open to you:

  • You apply to the canton for a scholarship or a loan.
  • You apply for assistance money from a foundation or fund.
  • In the event of financial hardship, check the options for rapid assistance (social assistance, waiver of tuition fees, etc.), but also the longer-term support and savings options (premium reduction, family allowances, etc.).

You can find more information on these topics on our website (see links at the bottom).

Possible difficulties

Students often remain financially dependent on their parents despite having reached the age of majority. For their part, parents have to bear considerable financial burdens for years. These situations are a frequent source of conflict.

In order to prevent escalation, it makes sense to regulate the financing of studies together as clearly as possible and, if necessary, even to draw up a mutual written agreement. Please see the suggestions below on how to draw up a study financing contract.

Study financing contract

In a study financing contract, both parties – that is, parents and children – commit themselves to certain benefits or to compliance with certain conditions.

We recommend that the contracting parties jointly determine the points of agreement, clarify their content, and record the agreements in writing in the contract. It also makes sense to appoint a mutually accepted initial mediation body in case conflicts should arise.

Counselling and support

If you have or fear a conflict with your parents – especially because of financial issues, we will be happy to advise you in preparing a clarifying discussion with your parents. Our support is free of charge and confidential.

  • Foundations and funds

  • Scholarships and loans

  • Financial emergencies

  • Counselling services (overview)

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