More students with student debt, average debt remains the same

This is evident from new figures from Statistics Netherlands (CBS). Since the introduction of the new loan system in 2015, the average student debt of a Dutch student has risen from 12,400 euros to 15,200 euros at the beginning of this year.

Measures due to the corona crisis

The fact that the average debt has not increased further is due to a number of measures taken by the government in 2020 due to the corona crisis. For example, students received a discount on their tuition fees and an allowance if they incurred study delay due to corona measures.

Partly because of this, the average student debt of young people up to the age of 20 is about 30 percent lower than in 2020. Among students between 20 and 25 years of age, the average student debt is virtually the same as last year. In higher age groups, the average debt has actually risen.

At the beginning of 2021, 1.6 million people had student debt. That is more than 100,000 more than a year earlier. Statistics Netherlands gives two explanations for this increase: the success rates were higher in 2020 than in previous years and fewer young people took a gap year.

Nearly 25 billion euros in student debt

These (former) students together had a total student debt of 24.4 billion euros. That is an increase of 1.6 billion euros (or 7 percent) compared to 2020. Since the introduction of the loan system, the total student debt has doubled.

In 2015, student grants were overhauled. The basic grant, a loan that was converted into a gift when the study was completed, disappeared. Students can now only borrow, for their living expenses and a separate loan to pay their tuition fees.

In addition, there is the supplementary grant, the amount of which depends, among other things, on the income of the parents. For students with only one parent, there is a separate surcharge. Students are also entitled to a public transport card, with which they can partly travel for free or with a discount.

A student loan is sometimes called ‘the nicest debt you can have’, because of the low interest rate on the loan (currently 0 percent) and the long repayment period. Students who come under the new loan system have 35 years to pay off their student debt.

Student debt counts when applying for a mortgage

Still, the loan can get in the way after your studies, for example if you want to buy a house. The higher your student debt, the lower the mortgage you can get. Mortgage lenders were able to ask about the debt in recent years, but not check whether what applicants reported to them was correct.

That has now changed. Mortgage lenders have recently been able to request the data directly from the Education Executive Agency, the body that arranges the loans. As a student loan owner, you still have to give permission for this.

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