The student loan system in the Netherlands will return to a system of grants given to higher education students by the start of the next academic year. Students in research universities and applied sciences universitieis can qualify for about 275 euros per month if they live away from home, and 110 euros if they live with their parents.
Due to the sharp levels of inflation this year, all university students and higher vocational students can receive 164 euros monthly for a one-year period. A student living away from home will thus receive over 5,250 euros for the academic year, while those living away from home will obtain over 1,300 euros. The amounts are guaranteed for all first-year students. However, students who previously began their studies will qualify for the money if they are still entitled to a performance grant, the Cabinet said.
The Eerste Kamer, the upper house of Dutch parliament, voted unanimously to reintroduce the system on Tuesday. The lower house, the Tweede Kamer, also voted unanimously in favor of the Cabinet’s bill back in February. “About 435,000 students from colleges and universities will receive a basic grant again from September,” the Cabinet said in a statement. Applications for the grants can be submitted to DUO, the agency implementing the program, starting on June 19.
Supplementary grants of 416 euros per month will also be available for all students from families earning up to roughly 70,000 euros annually. That income limit rose from just under 54,000 euros. The process for applying for the grant has also been streamlined, leading to a jump in applications. Where 69 percent applied for extra grants, that rose to 93 percent of students in January.
Those who studied under the loan system will receive up to 1,436 euros for a four-year program as compensation. This will rise by an additional 1,835 euros for those who studied from the first year when loans replaced the basic grant, the 2015-2016 academic year, and who continued through the 2018-2019 academic year. The amount will automatically be applied against any outstanding student loan debt. The amount will be paid directly to those those without debt.
“For students, the return of the basic grant means a significant improvement in their financial position for students in higher professional education and university education,” said Education Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf. “A fixed amount per month offers perspective and a good foundation. And together with the expansion of the supplementary grant, this reintroduction ensures more financial peace for students.”
The return of study grants is an important achievement, Terri van der Velden said in a statement to ANP. Van der Velden chairs the student organization ISO. “We have been working towards this for a long time and now the knot has finally been made: the basic grant is coming back,” she said. It is not an ideal amount, and students can still fight for more, but the fact that the grant program has returned is what is most important, the ISO said.
“It is abundantly clear that life has only become more expensive in the past eight years; students also feel that,” ISO wrote in a statement.
The Ministry of Education also pointed out, “The basic grant is not the only source of revenue for students. Think of a side job, care and rent allowance, a parental contribution and possibly borrowing more from DUO.”
“We are very happy that politicians are finally bringing back the basic grant, but we also remain critical,” wrote national student union LSVb in a statement. The organization wants those who studied under the loan system to receive a higher amount of competition.