By Marlijn ter Bekke & Emma Douma
In 2010 the Dutch government announced that it wanted to turn the student grant into a social loan – a big change for Dutch students. Now, more than three years later, still nothing has happened. Why not, and what are the government’s current plans?
The student grant was introduced in 1986, with the idea that the opportunity to follow higher education should not be depend on the income of your parents. A wonderful idea. Currently, all Dutch students receive a standard grant, which increases when you move out of your parent’s house. If your parents have a low income, it is possible to apply for an additional grant. On top of that, all students can travel for free, either during the week or during the weekends. With more than 700,000 students, you can imagine that this gets pretty expensive for the government in times of economic crisis. They therefore decided to implement three major changes.
From the next academic year onwards, students working towards their master’s degree will not receive any type of financial support anymore. To compensate the loss, they can lend money from the government at a low interest rate. For newbie undergraduate students this system will be introduced in the academic year 2015-2016, but they can still apply for the low-income grant. The final change concerns travelling: on the 1st of January 2016 an alternative system will be introduced. What the system will look like, remains a mystery. So if you’re planning on becoming an introweek parent in two years, be a dear and buy a beer for your deprived kiddies.
Of course, selfish as we are, we want to know how these changes will affect us. Won’t we be able to drink in the bar anymore? Will substituting Dining Hall with a pizza be too expensive? It is actually quite simple. If you plan on staying at UCU for the next two years, you will receive a student grant until you’ve graduated. If you do intend to drop out, start your new study before the year 2015-2016, because otherwise you won’t get any more money from the government. And whether you are a first year or a third year, during your master’s study, you will have to pay for that pizza yourself.
So, the fact that you are at UCU right now, means that you don’t have to worry about receiving a student grant for the remaining years of your undergrad study. So far the good news. The bad news: you will have to find a new source of income in order to survive your student years afterwards.
As we have seen in the last three years, the government has a hard time making up its mind, meaning that the plans may have changed by the time you read this. To that we say: Google is your best friend.