Will you be getting coronavirus financial support, too?

Photo: Pixabay

It’s been a strange academic year and many students have been harmed by the crisis: some have lost their part-time jobs, while others are experiencing delays in their studies. Although the latter is not as big of a problem as was once expected, the question remains whether students have learned as much as they would have in a classroom. There is a huge difference between online classes and face-to-face lectures on campus.

That's why the Dutch government decided to offer students some financial support to make up for the setbacks. Many will be getting a 50 percent discount on their tuition fees for the next academic year (2021-2022). However, not every student will benefit in the same way. Here's how the financial support measures differ per student.

Tuition fees

International students
International students from countries within the European Economic Area (EEA) who pay the statutory tuition fee (2,168 euros) are entitled to receive the 50 percent discount. Those coming from outside the EEA, which means they're paying the much higher institutional tuition fee (about ten thousand euros), will not be receiving five thousand euros back. Rather, they are entitled to the same 1,084 euros as everyone else.

Master's students about to graduate
Will you be graduating from a Master’s programme at a university or university of applied sciences this academic year, and you're not planning on continuing your studies? Then you will be getting three months’ worth of tuition back, which amounts to 535 euros. The Dutch Minister of Education, Ingrid van Engelshoven, announced this measure last year, which means that these students are not included among those who'll receive a 50 percent discount on tuition fees. 

Bachelor’s students about to graduate 
Students who will be graduating university with a Bachelor’s diploma this academic year will not be entitled to three months of tuition refund. But if they stay at the university to pursue a Master’s degree — which is what most Bachelor's graduates do — they will only have to pay 50 percent of the tuition fees. If you take a gap year or stop studying after your Bachelor’s degree, then you won’t get anything.

HBO Associate Degree or Bachelor’s graduates
If you're getting a Bachelor's degree or Associate degree from a university of applied sciences (Hoogschool), then you'll benefit the most from the government’s coronavirus support. These students will not only receive the three-month refund, but they are also entitled to the 50 percent discount next year.

Freshmen and sophomore students in teacher training programmes
Nothing changes for these students, as it had already been decided that they would pay half of their tuition fees anyway. 

Pre-Master’s students
It’s not clear yet whether students starting a bridging programme will be eligible for the discount. They pay the institutional tuition fee, which is not allowed to be above the legal limit (2,168 euros). Institutions receive a compensation of 1,084 euros for each pre-Master’s student, but the Minister gives them freedom to decide “whether they will give a discount and, if so, how much”.

Second Bachelor’s or Master’s
Do you already have a Bachelor’s or Master’s diploma, and you’re now pursuing a second degree? Then you're not eligible to pay the statutory fee: you have to pay the institutional fee instead. That means you are in the same situation as the international students from outside the EEA: you’ll get a discount, but not 50 percent.

Second degree in the health or education fields
But there’s a small exception: those taking a second degree in health sciences or education are allowed to pay the statutory fee, provided that their first degree was not related to these areas. These students will therefore be getting a 50 percent tuition fee reduction.

Student financing
Since the basic student grant was phased out in 2015, student financing in higher education only comprises the additional student grant, the free public transport pass and the eligibility for student loans.

Additional student grant
If you will be losing your eligibility for an additional student grant sometime between June 2020 and August 2023, then you will receive a compensation of 1,500 euros which will not formally count as an additional grant. You won’t have to pay back the money if you take longer than ten years to finish your degree. 

Student public transport pass
Students will get an extra year of free travel on the Dutch public transport system. But that's only if they were enrolled in a higher education programme in the period comprising March through December 2020 and if they were entitled to a student public transport pass, loan or additional grant for at least one month during that period.

Usually, the student travel entitlement is valid for the duration of the programme (e.g. four years), plus a one-year extension. The new measure has basically allowed for a two-year extension. 

Loan entitlement
The law currently states that students are entitled to take out loans for the duration of their programme, plus three extra years, through the Education Executive Agency (DUO). The government thinks that this term is generous enough, even in a pandemic, so nothing is changing here.