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Dutch Student Finance for International Students

As students, most of us are under a tight budget, and the high living expenses in the Netherlands don’t help. Fortunately, the Dutch government has some student financing schemes to support you during your studies, even as an international student. See if they apply to you by reading this short guide to student finance in the Netherlands.

What is Dutch student finance?

It includes the basic grant, the supplementary grant, the student travel product, the tuition fee loan, and an interest-bearing loan. You can freely choose which components you would like to apply for. 

The basic grant is currently €466.69/ month (for the academic year 2023-2024) if you are not living with your parents. The best part is you do not have to pay it back if you obtain your diploma within 10 years. You can receive this monthly amount as long as you fulfill the requirements set by DUO (see later), and it is usually awarded about a month after your application.

The amount of supplementary grant provided depends on your biological parents’ joint income and can be up to a maximum of €457.60/ month. Like the basic grant, this also becomes a ’gift’ if you graduate within 10 years. But this is the part of student finance that gets very complicated and annoying. DUO will take ages to process the necessary documents for this one, especially if you have a more complicated family situation.

When it comes to the student travel product, you can choose between the weekday or the weekend subscription. With the weekday subscription, you can travel with any public transportation without charge on the weekdays and for a discount on the weekends. For the weekend subscription, you can travel for free on the weekends and with reduced rates during the weekdays, except for morning rush hours. Similar to the basic and supplementary grant, this does not need to be paid back if you receive your diploma within 10 years. Keep in mind that a personal (yellow) OV-Chipkaart is needed to utilize this benefit.

The tuition fee loan and interest-bearing loan are, as the name suggests, loans, which means they have to be paid back with interest 2 years after obtaining your diploma. The amount of the tuition fee loan always equals the given year’s statutory tuition fee, while the maximum amount of the common loan is €293.67/ month. You can receive the first payment of these loans just a few days after your application, and you can stop them any time you want.

Am I eligible?

DUO has tied student finance to some pretty strict requirements regarding your age, studies, nationality, and working hours. 

First of all, you need to be younger than 30 years old and enrolled at an MBO, HBO, or university as a full-time student. You must also have a BSN number and preferably DigID. 

If you are a Dutch national or have residence permit type II, III, IV, or V, you automatically qualify for student finance and only need to submit some documents. Even if you are still waiting for your residence permit, you should still apply. You will get rejected initially, but if you contact DUO after receiving the residence permit, you will get student finance retroactively, i.e. you will receive the amount you were supposed to get between your student finance application and your residence permit’s arrival.

Students from EU/EEA countries and Switzerland have three possibilities of qualifying for student finance:

  • You have been living in the Netherlands for 5 consecutive years.

  • Your non-Dutch partner/parents from an EU/EEA country are migrant workers and work a minimum of 32 hours/month in the Netherlands.

  • You work a minimum of 32 hours/month next to your studies, OR your monthly income is at least 50% of the social security norm in the Netherlands. After 6 months of working, a monthly 24 hours is enough for eligibility.

UK citizens have the same conditions as EU/EEA citizens, with the exception that you need to possess a Dutch residence permit (Article 50), in addition to either living in the Netherlands for 5 years, or you/your partner/your parents(s) being a migrant worker in the country.

Which documents to submit?

To ensure that your application is processed as fast as possible, prepare all the necessary documents beforehand. DUO takes forever to do this so make sure everything is ready.

If you have been living in the Netherlands for more than 5 consecutive years, submit the following documents:

  • a copy of your ID card

  • if you are from the UK, a copy of your Dutch residence permit (Article 50)

If it is you who has a part-time job, then prepare the following documents:

If it is your parent(s)/partner who is a migrant worker, then you will need these papers:

You can submit these documents either by post or through ’Mijn DUO’ if you have a DigID (recommended). After submitting your application, DUO will inform you of a processing time between 6-8 weeks, but it can be up to 12 weeks, depending on when you apply. And if you need to submit additional documents, the waiting time can be even longer. Note that you/your parents(s)/your partner must have a contract on the first day of the given month to receive student financing for that month! 

Based on personal experience, the tuition fee loan and the common loan will be granted to you within a few days, while the waiting time for the basic grant and the student travel product is about a month if DUO thinks all your documents are in order. Do not worry, once your application is approved, you will receive the money owed to you retroactively. This means that even if you apply with an employment contract starting on September 1st and only get a response in November, you will get the monthly amount for September and October, together with the November one. 

How to apply for the supplementary grant?

Let’s just say that applying for the supplementary grant is a whole different challenge. 

DUO calculates the amount based on various factors, such as your biological/legal parents’ yearly income, how many siblings you have and what age they are, etc…, and they are extremely critical

Generally speaking, you are eligible for the supplementary grant if your legal parents' joint income is less than €36 592.92/ year. If your parents are not working in the Netherlands, DUO will contact the tax authorities of your country, but in most cases, they will contact your parents directly. In general, parents need to provide their income statements for the past 2 years, paired with an application form (named ’wijzigingen ouders’ and is only available in Dutch) for every single income statement. Hence, a total of four documents must be sent by each of your parents to DUO in most cases. Of course, this can be different if you have a more complex family situation, like you are no longer in contact with your parents (for further information, visit the DUO website). 

Once the required documents are sent, your patience will be tested once more as the waiting time can vary between 6-12 weeks. Luckily, this amount is also paid retroactively once it has been granted, so you might receive the money by the time the academic year ends.


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