Tuesday , February 27 2024

Progress on student grant reforms – Help agreed for poorer students

The government and its opposition allies have not yet finalised their plans for phasing out student grants but there are signs some compensation will be offered to students from poorer families.

The Volkskrant reports on Tuesday that ministers have agreed to set aside €200m to €300m to ease the impact of losing the basic grant on low income households, as demanded by the left-wing greens GroenLinks and the Liberal democrats (D66).

In addition, plans to end grants for students whose parents refuse to help fund their education or whose parents cannot be traced will also be dropped, the Volkskrant says.

Monthly payment

Dutch students have been given a basic grant for the past 30 years. Students who live away from home currently get around €260 a month towards their upkeep and college fees. The rest they can borrow. On average, students leave university or college with some €15,000 in debts.

The plans also envisage allowing students to pay back their loans over 30 to 40 years and they will not have to start repayments until they earn at least the minimum wage. At the moment, people living at welfare benefit level are required to repay their loans.

The Volkskrant also says plans to scrap student public transport cards will be dropped but restrictions will be placed on rush-hour travel. There are also calls for vocational college students to be included in the transport card system. At the moment, MBO students get no government financing.

On top of the fact that the students will have to pay back their loans, it is expected that the interest that the students have to pay over the loan, will also increase. Today this would increase from 0.8% to 1%, i.e. an increase of 25%. Note that this interest rate is not fixed as it is connected to the rates that the government has to pay on the international money market. If, in the future, this rate would increase, then the interest on the student loans will also increase.

The government needs the support of opposition parties to ensure its reforms get majority support in the upper house of parliament

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