‘Loan system increases differences between students’

Higher education students have become more financially dependent on their parents since the loan system was introduced in 2015. This is what the budget institute Nibud says on the basis of its own research. As a result, students are less likely to become self-employed in this area. At the same time, not all parents are able to provide financial support.

The institute warns of the risk of increased inequality in opportunities. According to the budget organization, students whose parents are short of money pay “a higher price for their studies than students who can trust their parents” and therefore start worse financially. Nibud estimates that there are more than 40,000 students out of a total of 715,000 last year.

The last time Nibud conducted research on this topic was in 2017. This is the first time that all students are covered by the student loan system. The department surveyed 1,505 students in higher vocational education and university education. Two-thirds receive money from their parents. That’s 10 percent more than four years ago. The amount has grown by 46 euros to an average of 211 euros per month.

Earns too much for additional scholarship

“With the loan system, it has been decided to place the costs of studying more on students and their environment,” says Nibud director Arjan Vliegenthart. “The result of this is that parents actually help a lot more.”

But according to Nibud, there are parents who earn too much to make their children eligible for a supplementary scholarship while they are not well able to support their children financially. These are parents with an income between 49,000 and 69,000 euros. That is, middle income. “This is a worrying development,” Vliegenthart said.

“Some parents can’t actually afford it, even though they’re supposed to pay for it,” Vliegenthart says. In any case, according to him, this seems to be an undesirable result: “Either they support their child less, so they have to borrow more, or the parents have to bow down.”

About the group falling between two chairs, Vliegenthart says they are more concerned about their financial position. “It’s not just about the student loan, but also, for example, about whether they will be able to buy a house in the future. Taking out the loan also gives stress.”

He also says that this situation ensures that the young people later become financially mature. “On the one hand, young people are treated as economic adults. At the same time, this process is hampered. Two political ideas collide.”

Political features

According to the director, it is important that something changes. According to him, the group eligible for the supplementary grant can be expanded or the basic grant can be returned. He leaves to the politicians which measure is best.

This makes Nibud’s appeal one for the formation. Last July, it became clear that D66 also wants the scholarship back. VVD is still in favor of the loan system. “Now that only VVD is ahead, a new path will definitely be taken after the election towards a system of student support,” NOS reporter Ron Fresen said at the time.

In a response, Interstedelijk Studenten Overleg (ISO) called the current scholarship “unfair and obstructive”. Lisanne de Roos from ISO says that it is unfair because the position of the students is now largely determined by where your cradle was. According to her, the obstacle lies in the fact that the students now make different choices in order not to let their debt pile up. “They’re going to work extra instead of on a committee in a student union, which is super educational, but for which there is no extra compensation.”

ISO has a manifesto, Students on their own two feet, released with things they think should change. Among other things, the organization wants the basic grant to be returned for each student, and for the supplement to be extended so that children of parents with middle incomes can also claim this.

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