At the request of Minister of Education, Ingrid van Engelshoven, the CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis conducted a survey into the use of the supplementary grant in higher education. Of the 8,650 students who do not apply for the grant, 41 percent do take out a loan through DUO. “This group may therefore be borrowing money unnecessarily,” the CPB concludes.
Particularly students who are entitled to a lower, partial supplementary grant appear less likely to apply, first-years more often than second-years. But of the students who are entitled to the full grant of 400 euros a month, 1 in 8 students do not apply.
The CPB thinks that many students are unaware that they are entitled to the grant, do not know how to apply or what the conditions are. A solution might be for students to receive it automatically or to be notified that – in view of their parents’ income – they would be entitled to it. A less radical option is to improve information provision.
This is not the first time that there have been signs that students do not make sufficient use of the supplementary grant. At the start of 2019, student organisation ISO lobbied for this to be explored, and that has now been done.
Not a day too soon, says ISO president Dahran Çoban: “The student loan system leaves students in the lurch, and lack of information costs these students thousands of euros in the long term.” She feels that for DUO and the Ministry “it can’t be too hard to inform all students correctly, even when they are still in secondary school”.
The Dutch National Student Union and FNV Young & United feel it is very unfortunate that students do not know what they are entitled to. They want an end to the confusion by giving every student a “debt-free basic grant”.
DUO has an online calculation tool that makes it easy to calculate the monthly payments of the supplementary grant, with all the possible variants (divorced parents, single-parent family, student siblings, etc).