Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs (DUO) is working on a massive overhaul of the IT system behind MijnDUO, the online site where current and former students can check and change the details of their student loan and communicate with the agency. In April, the data of 4.8 million people will be transferred to the new system. To avoid errors, DUO will be freezing the existing database for a month – meaning that no one can make any interim changes.
But the agency won’t be closing shop altogether. On 24 April, student loans will be transferred to students’ bank accounts as usual, and repayments will continue to be collected via direct debit. Furthermore, you can still reach DUO via telephone, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Students can also drop by one of the agency’s service desks in Amsterdam, Arnhem, Eindhoven, Enschede, Groningen, Rotterdam or Zwolle.
The site advises students and repayers against filling in an online form in April. This won’t get the form processed any quicker. “On the contrary. Our staff are actually unable to process new forms in April as well. We recommend waiting until May and dealing with it via MijnDUO then.” Although you can still arrange a few matters online in April – like converting your student pass for public transport from a week into a weekend season ticket, and vice versa. And you can still access the register of diplomas.
In April, people repaying their student loans may not be able to make any changes, but they’ve actually been using the new version of MijnDUO for over a year now. New functions included in the upgraded version are an option to pay online with iDEAL, to temporarily suspend your repayments and to adapt your monthly amount.
In the near future, current students and parents will also be able to access these new options. Their applications and changes will be processed and confirmed straight away, and students will have better insight into their student debt: which part is a gift, which part needs to be repaid?
The overhaul comes with a hefty price tag, however. A whopping 145 million euros – nearly double the original estimate of 75 million euros. The basic idea behind the upgrade was that the new system’s greater efficiency would allow the government to recover these expenses. But at nearly double the budget this remains to be seen: with an expected return on investment of 13 million euros per year, it will take at least eleven years before they’ll have recouped the costs.