Student organisations ISO, LSVb and JOB MBO have sounded the alarm about the basic grant in an urgent letter to the House of Representatives. Their aim is to gather as much political support as possible for their cause.

As things stand, the basic grant for students living away from home is due to drop to 302 euros a month in September, at a time when students believe the grant needs to be increased. They refer to a report by the Social and Economic Council that called for a significantly higher basic student grant back in 2021.

But weren’t the student organisations themselves involved in producing that report? And what do they think a fair basic grant should be? Time for some questions and answers.

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What is the extra grant payment?

In response to soaring inflation and high energy costs, in 2023 the government introduced income support for students: an additional monthly payment of 164 euros for students living away from home. This was a one-off measure for a single academic year. As a result, students entitled to the basic grant currently receive 466.69 euros a month instead of 302.39 euros.

What is about to happen?

The law states that the extra 164 euros a month will cease from September. In other words, the basic grant for students living away from home will revert to 302 euros. In their letter to the House, the student organisations warn that this puts students’ livelihoods at risk.

If students needed extra money last year, why not now?

The increase in the basic grant was a one-off government aid package to help students cope with a huge spike in inflation. When war broke out in Ukraine, inflation rose so fast that the government dished out extra support on all sides. But the government also made it clear that support on this scale cannot continue indefinitely.

Does this mean the problems are over?

Not necessarily. Both rents and tuition fees are on the rise, and the cost of living is still high. Making ends meet is by no means easy for students from less well-off backgrounds.

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Why are the student organisations sending their letter this week?

On Thursday, the House of Representatives is due to vote on the budget for the Ministry of Education. D66 and SP have proposed extending the temporary increase of 164 euros for another year. The students hope that a majority in the House will back this proposal.

How high should the standard basic grant be?

Instead of 302 euros, the student organisations are calling for a basic monthly grant of 476 euros. They justify this claim with reference to the 2021 report by the Social and Economic Council.

What is the status of that report?

It is a report by the Council’s youth platform – a platform in which the student organisations themselves participate. This might suggest that the findings are based on self-interest but there’s more to it than that. The report adopted the principle that “on average” students should be able to graduate without debt. Based on today’s cost of living, that would require a basic grant of 476 euros for students living away from home. The report also assumes that students have a part-time job of twelve hours a week and make use of the allowances available for healthcare and rent. It also assumes that parents are willing to make a contribution.

What are the chances of success?

The proposal by SP and D66 is sure to get support from parties on the left of the political spectrum. The question is how more right-wing parties like PVV and NSC feel about the initiative. If they decide it can wait until a new government has been formed, then the students could well miss out. However, these parties may take the view that extending the payment now saves the new government the problem of having to rush through a grant increase as soon as it is installed.