A spokesperson from DUO is ‘fairly positive’ about this fall. In her view, fewer bailiffs are sent because DUO is much more active now with respect to personal repayment schemes. Another explanation is that not all the debts are transferred (yet) to the Central Judicial Collection Agency (CJIB), which took over collections from DUO in 2017. Furthermore, a former student may now be more behind in payments before a bailiff is called in.
Sometimes there is no trace of former students with payment arrears, usually because they have gone abroad. Consequently, 76 million euros were outstanding in 2018. In 2015 that was still 81 million euros.
In 2012, former Minister of Education Bussemaker targeted this group of ‘unfindable’ debtors. DUO started using international collection agencies, and passports were recorded in a warning system. That approach is still proving successful.
There are several reasons why former students fail to repay or postpone repaying their student loan. This may be due to a lack of money or failing to read their online post from DUO. Some simply don’t want to pay, but DUO says that this is just a small group.
“We continue to highlight the subject. We are now communicating more often with former students before their repayment period starts. We’ve also recently started calling people if we see they are already in arrears before their first repayment,” says the spokesperson.
Former Higher Professional Education and university students with a student loan have 35 years in which to repay their debt to DUO. They don’t start repaying it immediately. Repayments start two years after the end of their student loan, although interest on the loan still accumulates. The monthly repayment depends on their income, and anyone earning too little does not make any repayments. Once the repayment phase ends, any remaining debt is waived.