Pregnancy, caring for a child during his or her first few years of life, or caring for another family member are all reasons to take a leave of absence. A semester-long leave of absence does not count as a semester within a particular subject (Fachsemester), but it does count as a semester of higher education (Hochschulsemester).
The upper limits for the number of semesters spent on leave do not apply in the case of maternity leave or leave taken to care for a child up to the age of three years. This means that in these cases, the number of semesters spent on leave can also exceed one-half the regular period of study in the student's program (the Regelstudienzeit).
The application for leave can be submitted when the student re-registers for the semester at the earliest and must be received by six weeks after the start of classes at the latest. Students who are on leave due to family responsibilities can continue to attend courses and earn certificates and credits even during a semester-long leave of absence. In these cases, course registration takes place via Campus Management, in the usual manner.
Before deciding to take a semester-long leave of absence, it is definitely worthwhile to contact the Studierendenwerk Social Counseling service or the Allgemeiner Studierendenausschuss (AStA) at Freie Universität Berlin to discuss financing options.
An event called "Students with Children" is held every winter semester to provide information on semester-long leave of absence, organizing and financing a study program, childcare vouchers and allocation of childcare placements.