Student loan debt has increased dramatically in the last few years. However, according to Jet Bussemaker, the Minister for Education, this was anticipated. In her reply to questions raised in the Lower House by CDA, she pointed out that the number of students had risen.
Back in 2012, student loan debt amounted to €12 billion. Now more than a billion is added each year. CDA MP Michel Rog asked how the minister felt about the way the figure is rising.
Abolition of student grants
It was only to be expected, she replied. After all, the number of students and former students is growing. Furthermore, students are taking out bigger loans now that they no longer receive grants. So it was only natural that student loan debt should increase.
The minister was unable to say anything about the exact amount by which student loan debt has risen due to the abolition of student grants. “The average student loan debt outstanding among students required to take out a loan is relatively low, since this group has not attended university for very long,” she said in answer to the questions.
The government has set a so-called “pay-off quota”, which is over 86 percent. This number represents the percentage of the total debt amount students and former students are expected to pay back. But the higher the individual debt, the harder it is to pay it off, Rog believes. Therefore, he proposed that the percentage be adjusted downwards.
The minister does not agree to that, saying, “We have no reason to suppose that the average student debt or pay-off quota will be different from previous estimations.”
New figures on student loans will be released in May, which is also when the minister will inform the Lower House. She hopes also to be able to provide more information on the socio-economic background of students who take out loans then.