DUO, the Education Executive Agency that manages student loans and grants, stated in a letter sent last week that the former student was expected to repay in excess of €1,700 per month to pay off her student loan debt.
The woman had been subject to a debt rescheduling plan due to the childcare benefits scandal. During that period, she was given leave to stop paying off her student loan, but judging from the letter posted to Twitter by her lawyer Khadija Bozia, DUO wanted to resume the monthly repayment collection.
DUO responded to the lawyer’s tweet at once. The woman’s repayments have been halted. The next day, the agency posted the following message to its website: “Victims of the childcare benefits scandal will not be held to repay their student loan debts.”
As soon as Belastingdienst (the Dutch Revenue and Customs Administration) tells DUO who the victims are, DUO will contact them. Any victims who (wrongly) receive a letter ordering them to repay their loans is advised to call DUO’s customer service unit. “We will then halt the collection of your repayments until we have received all the information we need.”
DUO did not come up with this solution itself. Finance State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen announced the measure on Monday. Other public services, too, such as UWV and CJIB, will remit any debts the victims may have incurred.
The child benefits scandal has dominated the political debate in the Netherlands for quite some time now and caused the Dutch government to step down last week.