DUO (Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs) is part of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. DUO organizes financial support for students, as well as things like exams.
One form of financial support offered to students by DUO is studiefinanciering/studievoorschot, which is basically a Dutch study finance paid by the government for Dutch and non-Dutch students. In principle, you can apply for studiefinanciering if you are enrolled in university, higher professional education (HBO), or secondary vocational education (MBO).
Student finance has 3 components: a loan (containing both a regular loan and a tuition fee loan – see below), a student travel product, and a supplementary grant (which depends on parental income). You always have to pay back the loan. The student travel product and supplementary grant are converted into a gift if you graduate within 10 years. Otherwise, you will have to repay them as well.
So, overall, student finance contains:
- A loan, which must be paid back and is composed of:
- A regular loan, which goes to helping you pay your basic living costs, such as rent and daily expenses
- A tuition fee loan: if you study at university level, you will ask for collegegeldkrediet, which is granted to cover your tuition fees – how much you can borrow depends on whether you pay statutory or institutional tuition fees
- A student travel product, which enables you to travel by Dutch public transport for free or at a reduced rate, and can be converted into a gift
- A supplementary grant / aanvullende beurs, which depends on your parents’ income (if your parents are able to pay little or no money towards your education, you may be eligible to receive this), and can be converted into a gift
It is important to understand that the regular loan (#1) and tuition fee loan (#4) parts of studiefinanciering will have to be paid back at some point. Even though DUO makes it very clear that you decide how much you want to borrow according to your needs, the fact is that you will ultimately be incurring student debt. You should consider how having student debt could affect you in the future. For example, if you intend to buy a house in the Netherlands at some point, student debt can be taken into account when your mortgage is calculated.
The rest of student finance, namely the student travel product (#2) and supplementary grant (#3), can be converted to a gift that you don’t have to return, if you graduate within ten years.
Unless you are enrolled in secondary vocational education, there is no minimum age requirement for student finance, but you must be under the age of 30 at the time it starts. Other requirements are:
- You have to be enrolled on the first day of the month in which you want studiefinanciering to start
- Your course must last at least one year, and it must be recognised in the Netherlands
- According to the DUO website, you must either be Dutch, have a residence permit type II, III, IV or V, or be a citizen of Switzerland, the UK or an EU/EEA country, in order to be eligible
Requirements for EU/EEA citizens and Swiss
You must meet at least one of the following:
- You have been living in the Netherlands for 5 consecutive years or more
- You have come to the Netherlands to work, for 56 hours a month or more
- Your non-Dutch parent or partner has the nationality of an EU/EEA country or Switzerland and works, or has worked, in the Netherlands for at least 56 hours a month
If you don’t qualify for studiefinanciering
If you do not qualify for student finance, you may be eligible for other forms of financial support:
- tuition fee loan or contribution towards course fees for EU/EEA citizens and Swiss
- lifelong learning credit
- grant or subsidy for a teacher training course (information in Dutch)