Demonstration against the interest rate increase in Amsterdam at the end of last month. Photo: HOP

Interest rate increase on student debts rejected

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A decision has been made: the bill to increase the interest on student debts has definitively been rejected. Minister Van Engelshoven did not receive enough support from the Senate.

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Last year, with the smallest possible majority, the House of Representatives approved the plan to increase interest on student debts from 2020 onwards. The government wanted to link the interest rate to the 10-year interest rate on government loans, so that former students with an average loan (21 thousand euros) and an above-average income than around 12 euros in the month would pay more interest. The plan was ultimately to provide the Treasury with around 226 million euros a year.

But last week the Senate was not enthusiastic about the bill of Van Engelshoven and feared the accessibility of higher education. Even her own D66 party and the one-man group Duthler, who could prevent a majority with her vote, were not convinced.

The minister took her bill back to the Council of Ministers for reconsideration. Today she is withdrawing her bill. “In the plenary treatment I found that there is insufficient support for the bill,” she writes (in Dutch ed.) in a statement.

The student unions are happy with the news. Tom van den Brink, chairman of the Interstedelijk Studenten Overleg (“Intercity Student Counsel”): “For almost a year we provided strong criticism and it was heard. This is a huge victory for students and the access to education.”

Chairman of the National Student Union Carline van Breugel: “In the past year we fought very hard against the interest rate increase. Now that this is successful, students can breathe with relief.”

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