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‘Loan system increases differences between students’

by archyw

Students in higher education have become more financially dependent on their parents since the introduction of the student loan system in 2015. That is what budget institute Nibud says on the basis of its own research. As a result, students are less likely to become independent in this area. At the same time, not all parents can provide financial support.

The institute warns of the risk of increasing inequality of opportunity. According to the budget organization, students whose parents are short on money “pay a higher price for their studies than students who can fall back on their parents” and therefore start less well 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 institute surveyed 1505 students in HBO and WO. Two thirds receive money from their parents. That is 10 percent more than four years ago. The amount has grown by 46 euros to an average of 211 euros per month.

Earning too much for additional scholarship

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

But according to Nibud, there are parents who earn too much to make their children eligible for a supplementary grant, while they are still not able to support their children financially. It concerns parents with an income between 49,000 and 69,000 euros. So middle incomes. “This is a worrying development,” Vliegenthart says.

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“Some parents can’t actually afford it, even though they’re supposed to be paying for it,” Vliegenthart says. According to him, that seems to be an undesirable outcome in any case: “Either they support their child less, so that they have to borrow more, or the parents have to bend.”

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

He also says that this situation ensures that young people grow up financially later on. “On the one hand, young people are treated as financial adults. At the same time, this process is inhibited. Two policy ideas clash.”

Political move

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

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

In a response, the Interstedelijk Studenten Overleg (ISO) called the current student grant “unfair and obstructive”. Lisanne de Roos of the ISO says it is unfair because the position of students is now very much determined by where your cradle was. According to her, the impediment lies in the fact that students are now making different choices in order not to let their debt accumulate. “They will work extra instead of on a student association committee, which is super educational, but for which there is no extra compensation.”

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The ISO has a manifesto, Students On Their Own Feet, published with things they think should change. Among other things, the organization wants the basic grant to return for every student and for the supplementary grant to be broadened so that children of parents with a middle income can also claim this.

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