24 March 2022, by Victoria Séveno
With the Rutte IV coalition agreeing to abolish the existing student loan system in the Netherlands, the cabinet is now looking at how students and graduates can be compensated for their debts and deciding what the new grant system will entail.
Plans for compensation for students under loan system
The Dutch government put aside 1 billion euros in order to provide compensation for the thousands of students who have accrued debt under the current student loan system, which was introduced in 2015. The idea was for everyone who studied during these years and took out a loan to cover the costs of their education to receive 1.000 euros each.
However, this plan has faced serious backlash since it was first announced at the end of last year. In February, the Senate (Eerste Kamer) rejected the proposal, asking Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his cabinet to “compensate the injured students in a proper way, such that the compensation is comparable to the gifts to the students who were covered by the basic grant.”
The new plan that has been leaked to the press is to give students and graduates 359 euros for every year they were enrolled in higher education, with a maximum of 1.436 euros available for those who graduated and received a qualification. According to Statistics Netherlands (CBS), students and graduates had an average of 15,200 euros of debt at the beginning of 2021. Under the old grant system, they would’ve received up to 288 euros a month which wouldn’t have had to have been paid back so long as they completed their studies within 10 years.
Dutch government to reintroduce grant for students in the Netherlands
The cabinet is also finalising plans for the reintroduction of student grants. Sources in The Hague have confirmed to the Dutch media that, from September 2023, students living at home would be eligible to receive 91 euros a month, while those living in student accommodation could receive 255 euros a month.
A maximum grant of 419 euros a month would be available to students, depending on the salaries of their parents. In order to be eligible for the full supplementary grant, the parents’ income must be no higher than 34.600 euros a year. The government is also considering other options for the new grant system, ready for proposals to be discussed in the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) next month.
It’s still early days, but the current plans have already been met with significant criticism. “If these are the amounts, then I’ll be shocked,” Joshua de Roos, Vice President of the National Student Union, told NOS. “These amounts are lower than the old basic grant, so students do not gain much from it – although it is a good start compared to the loan system.”