Reduced First-year Tuition Fees – A Gift or Not?

By Klaas Schoenmaker

— While seeming like a nice gift to new students at first glance, the recently introduced regulation that is cutting in half the tuition fees for students from the EU, EEA, Surinam, and Switzerland can potentially hurt Dutch students taking out high amounts of student loans. According to the proposed changes to the “Law on Higher Education and Scientific Research,” future Amsterdam University College (AUC) first-years will effectively save €2.168 from their total (statutory) tuition fees. On the other hand, the interest rate on Dutch student loans is planned to be raised by half a percent by 2021, which can end up costing these same students a lot more than they saved by the reduced tuition fees.

Calculations by Het Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau show that under these new interest rates, a student who spends four years on their degrees (Bachelor’s and Master’s) and takes out a loan of €50.000 will end up having to pay approximately €3.000 worth of interest rate over 20 years. This is already almost €1.000 more than they would have had to in the past when students still paid full first-year tuition fees.

When taking a look at the “Fees and costs” page on AUC’s website states, you quickly find out that it will cost an average EU/EEA-student about €41.880 to study here for three years, getting you only have a Bachelor’s degree. Taking this, and the fact that many people will also want to do a Master’s after AUC, into consideration, it does not seem too unlikely for a student relying mostly on student loans to have to take out such an amount of loans

Andrew Kambel, a third-year Social Science student, is one of the people taking out maximum student loans. Being dependent on these loans and an ASF scholarship for his finances, he has experienced the pressure student loans can exert. “Even though I know I’ll pay my student loans off eventually, I still feel their presence. I know I’ll have to pay them off someday,” Kambel says. Twan Stegeman, a second-year Science student agrees with this, and expressed concerns about his brother. “My brother is taking out maximum loans right now, so unless he gets a high paying job, I’m afraid he might have issues paying his loans given the future interest rate,” Stegeman says.

Martijn Kamans, a spokesman for the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science, says he is not afraid for the future of students, though. “This change is really meant to give people a first push to picking the degree they want to pursue,” Kamans says. Although he did not want to speculate about the changes in costs for future students, he does believe this will result in an advantage in the job market for them. “This has definitely been thought through during the negotiations for the coalition agreement,” he added.

Whatever the outcome for prospective students will be, it is good for politicians to keep the struggles of loaning students in mind. Hopefully, this new regulation will not continue this struggle but instead ease it for some.

 

Editor’s note: This news story is part of a collaboration between The Herring and AUC’s journalism course. The story was entirely reported, written, edited, and fact checked by members of the journalism course. Some material may have been altered by The Herring’s editors to fit its style guidelines.

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