The basic grant: why did it disappear in the first place?

Author: Jeffrey Ma
Date: 19-10-2022

There's not much longer to wait. The basic grant will be back in a year! This means that Dutch students and students with a resident permit receive a monthly grant that helps with financing the costs of studying in the Netherlands. If you’re an international student, please check on duo.nl if you qualify. Most Dutch students know how this system works, but few of them know why the basic grant has disappeared and why it is coming back. So why did it actually disappear?

The basic grant was introduced because it ensured that students become more independent. To explain this we need to look at how the system used to look like. Before the basic grant, there was a child allowance that the parents of the student received. Which meant that only students with rich parents could study. The idea was that the parents are responsible for their children and that their children’s education is a part of that responsibility. This caused multiple protests from students, because a bad relationship with your parents would result in no study financing.

However, the basic grant, introduced in 1986, changed that. The money from the government no longer goes to the parents of the students, but directly to the student. The basic grant also made studying at an university of applied sciences (HBO) and universities more attractive. We can conclude that the government also wanted to encourage less wealthy students to study.

So what’s the reason that they introduced the student loan system in 2015? The answer to that question is quite simple. The government had to cut down on educational costs. Having said that, they did promise to spend the income of the loan system on improving higher education. But in the end, the loan system caused a lot of stress and a high student debt. This resulted in dissatisfaction among the students and protests for the reintroduction of the basic grant. Therefore, the basic grant will return in 2023. Students that live at home receive 91 euros and students that move out receive around 450 euros.

Having that said, what do you think of the reintroduction of the basic grant? I have mixed feelings about it. The grant is good for everyone if there are no cons, but there actually are some. Firstly, the costs of the government will increase and therefore the government debt will increase too. Secondly the amount of money spent on improving higher education shrinks. The progression, everywhere a socket, nice working spaces, teachers learning English etc. made during 2015-2022 will be (partly) lost. And thirdly, the loan system made loaning money easier and cheaper with almost 0% interest. The expectation is that the interest will increase. Maybe the social loan system wasn’t so bad after all.

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