I’m Paid to Get Into Higher Education

It cost my parents $8,392.96 to get me through four years of college. It cost me around $781.50 for books and other necessities. And the Dutch government paid the rest.It’s officially called study financing, every student will call it stufi (especially as in “Stufi is late! I need to get groceries!”) and basically it’s nothing more than a monthly allowance tailored to the student and their home situation with free public transportation during the week or in the weekends.

Stufi as a means to get more young adults into college and university started out in 1954 as a loan that every student needed to pay off  as soon as they finished or quit their education. The thought was kind, but the government realized quickly that with more students asking for financial support, they would had to pay more.  Therefore they made the demands to get into a higher education rise, effectively killing the reason for the loan – to make it accessible for everyone.

The card that comes with stufi and gives you free public transport

In 1986, the government changed their mind. Now stufi wasn’t  for making higher education cheaper, but to support students and their parents/caregivers financially through the years of higher education. From that year it existed out of a prestatiebeurs (get stuff done scholarship) and a aanvullende beurs (complementary scholarship) and – when really, really necessary – a loan with very low interest. The first scholarship seems pretty clear; do well, finish fast and we  will love you, but the second means that students coming from a poorer background, students with only one or no-working parents/guardians, receive a bigger scholarship than the students who get Ferraris for their eighteenth birthday.

And even if a student has enough money to pay around $ 2,605 a year for education and books, he/she can still apply for the complementary scholarship. Because, if for any reason whatsoever, you don’t live at home, you get a monthly allowance as well (which can run up to $ 390.75  a month). The third part is pretty much an ordinary loan, except that it’s only for students and has a very small interest. It’s used by those that need even more financial aid (or those who like to travel).
But what about all that money a student receives? If the student finishes his/her education with a diploma or degree in the time set for it, it turns into a gift. Alakazam and a thank you to the Dutch government.

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t some exceptions. You have to be at least 18 and a month under thirty when you enter for stufi. The university or college you go to has to be supported by the government. You have to have the Dutch nationality or the right documents to show you’re allowed to be here. And you have to use your stufi before ten years are past (counting from the first time you received it). Besides that? Nothing to stop a Dutch student from taking everything DUO (the huge organization that takes care of it) has to offer when it comes to stufi.

After only four years of stufi the way it is, the Dutch government realized that this was going to get very expensive. And ever since, there has been talk about lowering the financial aid, cutting down one of the two scholarships, putting more restrictions on the loan (but how do you check what people use a loan for?) or giving fees to students who don’t finish their education in the set time. And every time Dutch students will go to The Hague and tell the government that we can’t be a #1 Knowledge country if their financial aid is cut down.
These days, there is a government that is a great supporter of the thought, “You don’t need the government for that!”, which showed in the $ 3,907.50 fee if a student prolongs their study for more than two years over the set time and they’re gnawing at the legs of complementary scholarships. Those students will just have to get a job.

Until then (if it even is going to happen), Dutch students will continue using public transport for free, work a part time job (if they have the time and can find the job) so they don’t have to get a loan and especially wonder how countries like the UK and US can make studying so freaking expensive.

Post update with a few disclaimers:

Disclaimer 1: The Netherlands are right now without a government, but it’s probable that the new one will continue looking at ways to make studying less expensive for them (and therefore more for the student).
Disclaimer 2: I’m talking about four year studies plus two years of a masters degree. Studies that take longer, for example medicine, aren’t supported through the ten or more years they can take.

By freckle [M]

Freckle can't decide between writing fact or fiction, so she does both, on a very regular basis, and sometimes even for money.

18 replies on “I’m Paid to Get Into Higher Education”

The cost and student loan contributions sound similar to what they are in Montreal. I pay about 2500 a year in tuition, and receive student loans calculated to cover my tuition, supplies, and living expenses. Because I’m considered low-income (less than 10K taxable revenue a year), 2/3rds of my student loans are converted into a bursary, so I never have to pay them back. Students in Quebec still have to live modestly, but they graduate with (comparatively) little debt.

Interestingly, though, the government’s response to the cost of this approach has not been to talk about lowering student loan rates, but rather to RAISE the rates and the debt ceiling on students, so as to get more money back in the form of interest and loan payments – to move towards a more US-like model of predatory loan systems (while also raising tuition, and diverting the money from the tuition increases away from colleges and universities themselves). It’s pretty concerning, especially considering that other province in Canada have been raising their tuition and slashing loan-to-bursary problems in order to better emulate “the American model of education” for some time now as well. The response to this in Quebec has been overwhelmingly negative, leading to, um… well, the French media is calling it the “printemps erable”  – massive daily student demonstrations, some riots, occupations, etc in opposition to the raising of tuition fees, and rejecting changes to our loan programs.

I’m interested in how student mobilization in the Netherlands has impacted the Dutch approach to financing education – are student unions particularly strong? What has the response to threats to cut back on stufi been like?

TNL doesn’t really has one big union screaming at every  change (in my opinion). It’s more an online gathering, several big message boards where students come to go down to The Hague to protest. But there are no riots, violence, tomatoes thrown. Some unions do write protest letters though, and there is a group of young politicians that watches/guards changes.

Some students (including me) are more of the “We’ll just wait and see if something happens” approach, because after all TNL are a poldermodel and everything has to be discussed to death, therefore taking a lot of time before a slimmed down version is installed.


Rough Republic of Ireland comparison: students pay around €1500 a year (depending on the college) in ‘student fees’; plus books, accommodation, travel. There are grants towards the cost of the latter three, but only from your local authority under certain circumstances or income levels – someone who lives at home with two employed parents will probably not qualify. And that’s it – as long as you don’t have to repeat a year and it’s your first undergraduate degree, the government pays your tuition fees. Yay taxes! There are different levels of tuition fees for non-Irish-qualified students who are from the EU; and then another level for non-EU students, e.g.: approx.

Arts degree (two-subject, 3/4 years): for Irish students: nothing but the above; for EU students, +€3,600; for non-EU students, +€16,000.

Medicine (6 year degree): for Irish students: nothing but the above; for EU students, +€6,200: for non-EU students, +€30,000.

Sooooo, after a quick bit of mental math, I’m now pretty sure it would have been cheaper for me to get my degree in Ireland, based on your prices. Although probably harder to get the loans that let me afford it in the first place (most of mine were subsidized by the feds).

Most banks have student loan schemes here too, but they’re more likely to lend to students who have a guaranteed income when they graduate e.g.: doctors, nurses, actuaries. Given the whole economy/bailout thing, I’m not sure what the rates are like now.

How interesting!

Until then (if it even is going to happen), Dutch students will continue using public transport for free, work a part time job (if they have the time and can find the job) so they don’t have to get a loan and especially wonder how countries like the UK and US can make studying so freaking expensive.

Except the UK doesn’t have a universal system, hence much upset, where students from England are paying massive fees wherever they study in the UK, and students living in Scotland and from the EU studying in Scotland aren’t. Though across the UK – I think – there are some specific degrees which receive additional funding. Or, for something rather more informed: Tuition fees in the UK and the Student Awards Agency for Scotland. The funding of education is very interesting and, of course, a difficult topic, too, at times.

Lol, probably not. Here are the only two requirements I know of: 1.) ACT score of 17 or greater  2.) GPA of 2.5 or greater.

The rest of the details elude me because REALLY? Like I said, I’m still jealous. I worked my ass off in school…and yeah, I had loans out of my ass.

My darling boy’s father was a professor at the college we attended so he went there tuition free. Did I mention that our college has the most expensive tuition credit hour in the state. And he went there for five years so he would have time to take a minor. I’m still jealous too.

Ugh, that’s horrible. I have heard so many horror stories of people up into their forties still paying off their student loans. I think TNL would have a lot of people finishing their education after high school if something remotely similar would happen over here. We’re pretty spoiled.

My niece gets some money from the state of Georgia from the lottery system to go to school, but I don’t know how much it is. When I was in college in the mid-1990s in North Carolina, we didn’t yet have the lottery; they may have something like that in place now. Admittedly, I took out too much money in loans because I didn’t know anything about anything, as a first-generation college graduate (and still the only one). Because of how jacked-up the financial-aid situation is/was, I didn’t qualify for grants until my senior year, even though my parents weren’t financially contributing to my education or any expenses.

My mother remarried the summer before my senior year in high school, which screwed me in terms of getting grants. It effectively doubled our household income, and that’s all the financial aid evaluators look at when they decide what to “award”–not the reality of the situation. I fought with the financial aid office every semester of every year.

Yup – I’m currently 110,000 in debt from just my undergrad. I tell people this and they go slack jawed and start asking the obvious – why didn’t you get a job (i did, i worked full time), why did you go to school in the most expensive city ever (because fuck you thats why), why did you go to a private school (see reason 2). I feel like you mention student loan debt and it becomes a signifier of being “irresponsible”, instead of doing what you had to do to pay for school. Bush policies cut the grants I was getting and my college closed.

But yea, paying that off till I’m probably 50. No doubt about it.

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