Benefits for Schoolchildren and Apprentices/Trainees
The burden on parents whose children attend school or undergo training as apprentices is relieved because the Austrian government pays for most of the costs incurred for travel to school or the training location as well as educational material. Parents only have to pay a small contribution towards costs for the public transport season tickets.
Free Use of Public Transport for Schoolchildren
Two requirements must be fulfilled for schoolchildren to use public transport free of charge for the travel from their residence to school: family allowance must be received for the child and the school must be state-run or have public status if it is a private school. Free use of public transport will only be granted for travels to domestic schools or schools close to the border.
The application form and confirmation of school attendance has to be filed with the regional transport board or company or the regional centre of linked transport systems. The contribution towards costs per schoolchild and school year is a lump sum of EUR 19.60.
Instead of the free transportation permit, pupils, apprentices and participants in a voluntary social year can also upgrade their permit to a network-wide ticket (such as the “TOP-Jugendticket” in VOR), as long as their residence or their school/place of apprenticeship are located within the transportation network of the Verkehrsverbund. This requires a minimal increase in price for the ticket (between 60 and 102 Euros in total). Further information can be found online at the individual websites of the particular Verkehrsverbund.
Free Use of Special School Transport Services
Municipalities and education authorities may apply for the provision of special school transport services, especially if no public transport is available for schoolchildren who have to cover two kilometres or more on their way to school or if public transport is available but long intervals would cause long waits for the children. Special attention is paid to the fact that primary- school children are specially exposed to risks.
School Commuting Grants
If no suitable means of regular or special public transport is available, children may receive a school commuting grant. Again, the prerequisite is that the child is eligible for family allowance. The distance to school must be at least 2 km in one direction (no minimum distance applies if the child is disabled). A school commuting grant may also be applied for if the school curriculum includes a compulsory work placement and pupils have to travel to the location where they are placed every day for a certain period.
Depending on the distance to school and the number of days on which school is attended, the school commuting grant amounts to between EUR 4.40 and EUR 39,40 per month. At the end of each school year, form Beih85 has to be used to apply for the grant; the form can be obtained from the Tax Offices or from www.bmf.gv.at on the Internet.
Home Commuting Grants for Schoolchildren
If pupils attend schools away from their main residence and stay at a secondary residence during the week, e.g. in boarding school, home commuting grants may be applied for to cover the travel from the main residence to the secondary residence. The home commuting grant amounts to EUR 19 to EUR 58 per month, depending on the distance between the main and the secondary residence. The home commuting grant has to be applied for with the Tax Office by means of form Beih85. The form can be obtained from the Tax Offices or from www.bmf.gv.at on the Internet.
Free Use of Public Transport for Apprentices and Trainees
Apprentices and trainees undergoing recognised training and eligible for family allowance may avail themselves of free transport from home to the training location and back. This also applies to trainees in an apprenticeship foundation or young people who have to do pre-apprenticeship training. The form filled in also has to include confirmation of the apprenticeship on the part of the employer and must be filed with the transport provider at the beginning of each year of apprenticeship. The contribution towards costs for the families is a lump sum of EUR 19.60 per apprentice and year.
Commuting Grants for Apprentices and Trainees
If no suitable means of regular public transport is available, apprentices may receive a commuting grant if they cannot avail themselves of free public transport. The distance to the training location must be at least 2 km in one direction and it has to be travelled at least three times a week. The distance does not apply in case of disabled apprentices who depend on a means of transport to cover the distance. If the distance to the training location is a maximum of 10 km or if the location is within the same municipality, the commuting grant amounts to EUR 5.10 per month. If the distance to work exceeds 10 km, it is EUR 7.30 per month. The grant has to be applied for with the Tax Office at the place of residence at the end of the calendar year using form Beih94; the form can be obtained from the Tax Offices or from www.bmf.gv.at on the Internet.
Home Commuting Grant for Apprentices and Trainees
If apprentices undergo training away from their main residence and stay at a secondary residence during the week, e.g. at or near the training location, e.g. in a boarding school, home commuting grants may be applied for to cover the travel from the main residence to the secondary residence. The home commuting grant amounts to EUR 19 to EUR 58 per month, depending on the distance between the main and the secondary residence. The home commuting grant has to be applied for with the Tax Office by means of form Beih94. The form can be obtained from the Tax Offices or from www.bmf.gv.at on the Internet.
As school books are provided to pupils, they are furnished with educational material free of charge, which also gives all pupils equal access to education and contributes to relieving the financial burden on parents.
All regularly enrolled pupils who attend school in Austria or are undergoing compulsory education in Austria as well as all non-regularly enrolled pupils preparing for an assessment are entitled to free school books.
School books are procured by the school via school-book orders, distributed at the beginning of the school year and then owned by the pupils.
Schools have to adhere to a ceiling on spending per pupil depending on the type of school, which is usually sufficient to buy the basic books required. There are separate spending limits for religious books, pre-school, special schools, for bilingual tuition and tuition in the mother tongue, as well as for pupils whose mother tongue is not German (“German as a second language”). Schools order school books and other teaching aids within the limits of the total budget available (school book limit per pupil x number of pupils) from school book lists.
For some school books there is supplementary material on the Internet (SbX) and e-books (be ordered up to 2016/17), so that digital teaching aids (“e-learning”) can be used. Moreover, there are “self-selected teaching aids” (CD-ROMs, tapes for language tuition, learning games and other printed and audio-visual teaching aids), therapeutic teaching aids for pupils with disabilities and school books for vision-impaired and blind pupils.
By re-using school books, schools have to order fewer books, thus being able to save money which can be used for “self-selected teaching aids” in an amount of up to 15% of the school book budget ceiling.
With the computerised ordering system based on the Internet application “School books online”, a trail-blazing instrument of e-government (= electronic administration) was put in place; it was conferred an award for innovation in public administration by the European Union.