The process of applying for and receiving study finance from the Dutch government is one of the most difficult and confusing processes that you will have to deal with as an international student.
One of the biggest problems is that many students don’t know that this is an option that is available to them. IT IS! And it could save you a substantial amount of money. (Note: you have to be enrolled in a full-time bachelor’s or master’s program. Exchange students cannot apply.)
If you do know about study finance, the process is usually so confusing and complicated that you may get frustrated and give up. Some of the forms are only available in Dutch and it’s easy to get lost among all the documents and paperwork needed. If you persevere and manage to apply for study finance, it usually still takes a couple of months for the bureaucratic side of the process to be completed. It is important to be aware of what you need and how to apply early on.
This section will take you through the process step-by-step by giving you the general information, the problems that arise, and some possible solutions.
First of all, it is important to know that you more than likely CAN apply for study finance, although many conditions apply. The application process and amount of money available to you varies based on citizenship, income, employment, study, housing situation, and what government aid you’re applying for.
PROBLEM: There are many conditions and requirements for applying for grants, loans, and financing and it may be difficult for you to figure out which set of rules you fall under because the information is not always clearly presented or readily available. In general, most of the benefits are applicable to EU/EEA citizens, or other citizens that have the same rights as Dutch citizens (such as citizens of Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten, or the Dutch Caribbean). All of these will be explained shortly. Note: Very few benefits are applicable to students coming from outside the EU/EEA area or the Dutch Antilles. Also keep in mind that you can only apply if you are a full-time student in a Bachelor's or Master's programme.
Once you have your DigiD account, you can go onto the government website in order to find the application form (pdf link) for study finance (studiefinanciering). This needs to be uploaded onto your Mijn DUO in order to apply online (only applicable for Dutch students). For EU students, it is best to take the documents (and your application form) to your nearest DUO office and apply in person. Documents required are listed below.
PROBLEM: The majority of application forms are only available in Dutch at the moment. (We're working on providing you with translated versions!)
When you go to the DUO office to apply, make sure you bring the following documents with you:
As an EU citizen, you are required to work at least 32 hours per month in order to be eligible for study finance. Depending on your type of contract, you can apply immediately once you sign (for fixed contracts) or you will have to apply once you can prove that you have worked 32 hours per month for at least 3 months (for variable contracts). In the first case, you receive your money each month for as long as your contract is valid and you are still enrolled in a full-time study. In the second case, you will receive your money retroactively in one lump sum. You will automatically receive the basic grant (€266 per month) if your application is approved, as well as have access to your student travel product which you must activate. You may also be eligible for the supplementary grant (a total of up to €509 per month) depending on your parents' income. You will have to apply for the supplementary grant separately once you've been approved for the basic grant. You can find more information on different types of grants and loans below.
There are grants and loans which you can apply for as part of study finance. Grants must not necessarily be paid back if you fall under certain conditions, while loans must be paid back under any conditions.
This Dutch government page specifies the amounts available for grants. There are a number of requirements and conditions you must meet in order to be able to apply for the study grants. There is also a ‘nationality chart’ wizard at the bottom of the page that determines whether or not you are eligible for a study grant based on your circumstances. However, you must know what kind of residence permit you have (if any) and you must also be aware of your income, your parents’ income, and other factors. Your living situation is also important and affects the amount of money you are entitled to.
Note: If you are an EU/EEA citizen, you can apply for grants and tuition loans (depending on some conditions) since you automatically have a ‘Permanent Stay Citizens of the Union’ residence permit simply by being an EU/EEA citizen. Citizens of the Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten, and the Dutch Caribbean can also apply since they have many of the same rights as Dutch citizens.
DUO has created a study grant calculator that calculates the amount of study finance you are eligible for. Unfortunately, it’s currently only available in Dutch.
Eligibility depends on your parents’ income, the number of siblings you have and where they are in their education, and whether you live at home or not. If your parents make less than €35000 per year (in COMBINED income) you are eligible to receive the maximum amount of €509 per month. Anything over the €35000 mark will result in eligibility for a smaller amount of financing with the minimum amount being €266 per month.
If you wish to also take out a loan or ‘college credit’ (collegegeldkrediet) in addition to study finance, this must be paid back. The only money you do not have to pay back is the study finance money, and this is only if you graduate within the allotted time of your program. Find out more information on this type of grant.
You can find the application form for the tuition fees loan online, in case you do not qualify for the student grant.
You can find out more information about how the tuition fees loan works for EU/EEA citizens online as well. There is also a pdf available to explain how student finance works for citizens of Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten, and the Dutch Caribbean. Careful: if you want to apply, make sure you start the process immediately once you arrive to be certain that all of the paperwork is completed in time. If you wait, you risk losing some of the money you are entitled to!
Loans must be paid back once you’ve graduated. You can wait up to two years after graduation to start paying them back, and you can apply for a reduced payment rate if you can’t afford the rate given.
Contributions to tuition fees are also available from the government based on certain conditions. Note: If you stop your studies for any reason, you must inform DUO. You may be required to pay back any extra money you receive.
Keep in mind: you can always check if your school offers scholarships or financial aid to international students as well. Check the Nuffic grantfinder or the Scholarship Portal to see what other options you may have.
Also keep in mind: your school may have someone you can contact to help you through the process, or it may even be explained in a clearer format online through your school’s website .
Please make sure to apply on time and keep up to date with ongoing requirements such as providing payslips to prove your employment during DUO checks and extending your study finance in time, at least 3 weeks before your original contract ends or gets extended. Also note that we are in no way affiliated with DUO and so for your most reliable and up-to-date information about study finance, please visit the DUO website.
Please make sure to check the list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) as well if you have any remaining questions about study finance.
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