Stephanie Dijkstra (22, Policy Economics) Image credit: Samir Abdullayev

After more than four years of borrowing student loans from DUO, Stephanie Dijkstra (22, Policy Economics) has to pay back 45,000 euros. Not expecting a now-inevitable increase in interest rates, her plans currently took a sudden turn. “I do have some money left, but I wanted to spend it on vacations and enjoy my student time”, she says. “Now I will spend time on paying my loan back, which I think will take at least ten years.”

Although Stephanie was aware of a potential rise in interest rates, she believes DUO could do a better job in giving more information to students before taking out student loans. “You could just go to DUO, ask for a loan, and you’ll get it immediately”, she claims. The simplicity of getting a loan did not make matters easier for her. “I was 17 or 18 when I started borrowing. Who’s going to read the exact terms at that age?”, she laughs. “I think you’re quite young to make such a decision, and now I’m 22 with a 45,000-euro loan.”

EM illustratie 15 nov 2020 Wiersema financien lening budget-03 geld duo studenten money students

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Saving for tougher times

Marinde Smolders (23, Psychology) Image credit: Samir Abdullayev

Marinde Smolders (23, Psychology) is in a better position than Stephanie, as she has the advantage of the re-instated basic grant. Additionally, she receives some financial support from the university due to her sports career as a wheel gymnast. Nonetheless, she is prepared for any changes in the interest rates. “I’m trying to save as much money as possible now that tougher times are coming, but I still have to take care of my expenses for housing, study books, and study payments”, she says.

The future increase in interest rates will not affect her for now. “I have five years to pay off my current loan with 0.46 percent interest, so I’m lucky. I hope I will not have to take out a bigger loan with higher rates. After five years, I don’t know if the interest rate is going to be 5 percent, still 0 percent, or maybe even 10 percent.”

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'Don't worry'

Allard Zeegers (24, Sociology) Image credit: Samir Abdullayev

Despite owing 30,000 euros and working at an ice-cream shop to ease the pressure of the loan, Allard Zeegers (24, Sociology) believes that students should not express dissatisfaction about having to pay off student loans, regardless of the interest rates. “People with a university degree will earn more money down the line, because they’ll get a better job”, he states. “I understand that the rate increase is annoying, and the bills can get quite high, but at the same time you’ll get more money because of it. If we were to subsidise anyone, it would have to be students with lower income.”

Allard believes that students ‘must think more long-term’, and that some students worry a bit too much about paying off student loans, though that depends on the degree they study for. “If you get a degree in a profitable field like economics or tax law and look at the starting salary averages, those students make way more money”, he adds. “They’re insane, like 4,000 euros.”