Studying in the Netherlands: student loans, financing, and scholarships

Here it is — the money article for students, all you need to know about student loans when studying in the Netherlands. Whether it’s Vrije, UvA or the University of Groningen, you’ve made the grade and now you’re wondering if study financing is an option. Being an educated member of society can be expensive.

The Dutch word to learn here is studiefinanciering. It is how it sounds. If you complete your degree in less than 10 years (c’mon guys, 10 years at university?) then your study financing is converted into a gift and you don’t have to pay it back.

There are no limits on how much you can earn while receiving study financing, so if you can handle part-timing for some extra cash, go for it. Also, students in the Netherlands have 15 years to pay off their student loan. I’ll hit you with that again for your own good, you have 15 years to pay your student loans. Study financing is not the same as student loans.

This isn’t Denmark, okay guys? It’s not free if you’re an EU national. Expat students from the EU, the EEA, Switzerland, and Surinam should expect to pay anything upwards of €2,006 per year. Unfortunately, students of all other nationalities generally have to pay higher fees.

It’s not all bad (it’s still mostly bad), student loans in the Netherlands are relatively modest compared to other countries. In addition to this, the quality of education is pretty great.

Is it expensive to study in the Netherlands?

The student-loan company (which also administers the integration exam), is DUO. They determine the loans and who is eligible to receive financing for their studies.

First of all, you need to be younger than 30 and undertaking a Bachelor’s degree (or higher) of a duration longer than one year.

To calculate the study-financing you’re eligible for through DUO see the calculator on their website and enter your intended course.

Can I apply for study financing as an expat in the Netherlands?

Non-Dutch can also apply for student finance (if you meet their incredibly narrow criteria), and it’s a good thing too with so many international students in the Netherlands.

You can apply as an expat if you meet the following requirements.

  • you are younger than 30 years old when you start your course
  • you are enrolled in full time or dual-course studies
  • your course lasts at least one year
  • You have the Dutch nationality or a valid residence permit

That residence permit? Yeah, they can take that away if you’re a dummie. Keep your grades above average! If you thought the criteria to get financial help was stringent, prepare to fight off homelessness, courtesy of the Dutch government. Your school is required by law to report your sub-par grades to the IND (who will then revoke your residency permit), leaving you out on your ass.

Missed the application window? You can still apply for student finance by submitting a “late application” and if successful the study finances will be paid out for the months you have missed.

There are plenty of world-renowned Dutch universities that teach in English. But to really get a Dutch education, it’s not totally insane to learn some Dutch.

Like this video? Find more videos to help you learn Dutch at Bart De Pau’s Youtube Channel or at

Will I be able to study in the Netherlands now Brexit has occurred?

If you’re a British citizen in the Netherlands then your studies may be affected. Thanks to that spilled can of beans ignominiously known as “Brexit”, the cost of studying in the Netherlands may change.

But, if you’re already studying in the Netherlands you don’t need to worry about that yet. A transition agreement means that tuition fees and student finance will remain the same until at least the end of this year. After that, things could be different, but details so far are unclear.

What financial information do Dutch universities require?

Your BSN (burgerservicenummer) is required by all universities in the Netherlands. You receive this upon registering at your nearest municipality.

If you’re a foreign national coming to study in the Netherlands you will also need a bank statement as “proof of funds”. The amount you’re required to have can stretch up to €5,000 (Erasmus).

What scholarships are available in the Netherlands?

There is an array of scholarships which, if you’re successful, can alleviate some of the financial stress. The scholarships on offer to new students can depend on a variety of factors, including nationality and if the teachings are invaluable. For example, a scholarship for a research degree in agriculture accepts applicants from many different countries because circular agriculture is a practice that the university would like to see develop and grow.

Check the deadline for each scholarship closely because they are all different.

TIP: Once you’re studying (and financially secure) read up on how to maintain and keep your cool in the belly of the beast, the Dutch education system!

Student travel discounts in the Netherlands

If you’re planning on moving to the Netherlands for a university, apply for study financing in advance. It could help financially with your living situation as well as your travel costs. It’s highly advisable that you apply in time, preferably three months in advance.

If you end up getting your studies financed your public transport costs are covered up to €95.51, up from €91 last year. You can claim your student public transport allowance if you do a full-time course at MBO, HBO or university level course. Request to have your travel discounted here.

The student housing crisis in the Netherlands

The University of Groningen is a prime example of the student housing crisis, after offering priced tents for students. But, it’s not unique to Groningen. Even now the solutions across the nation are slow at best. The student housing crisis was real last year and it remains a very real obstacle (like a steel curtain) for both local and international students.

Do you have a student loan in the Netherlands? Or do you have any tips for newbies studying in the Netherlands? Drop it in the comments!

Feature Image: Fox/Pexels

Jesse Rintoul
I'm a 24-year-old writer living in Amsterdam, pursuing videography and media. The coffee I am drinking in my profile picture is a black coffee.


  1. I am from South Africa and I’m volunteering in Ecuador. Would I be able to get a student loan if i want to study a 4 year degree?

  2. TAKE NOTE: For the 15 year repayment term – you pay back whatever you can compulsory repayments through tax (you need to earn a minimum threshold), this is only a small percentage of your taxable income. Whatever you have not paid back after 15 years is FORGIVEN completely.

  3. The calculator on can help here with repayment.
    Say for example you have a high 60,000 EUR debt, you earn a medium income of 35,000 EUR per year taxable, you essentially pay 49.63 EUR per month (1.7% taxable income) meaning after 35 years you only back back 20k EUR, the rest is forgiven.
    If you have a high income, say 62,000 EUR per year taxable, you pay back 139,63 EUR per month (2.7% taxable income) and pay back 58,644 EUR of the 60,000 EUR debt after 35 years.
    All assuming current 0% interest.
    So overall the debt repayment is not that bad, BUT the biggest issue is banks factor in this loan when you want a mortgage – the amount you can borrow from the bank is significantly reduced the higher student loan amount you have.


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