Nathreee (nathreee) wrote,

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some facts about college and money in the Netherlands

Fyrane posted about the proposed changes for college grants in the Netherlands. Let me explain how it works here first.

The Netherlands is a small and rather rich country; we are lucky enough to have a good health care system and we have a program that grants college grants to everyone who decides to go to college after high school. There are a few different types of grants. The standard grant comes in two sizes, about a hundred euros per month if you live with your patents, about 250 euros per month if you don't. I could be slightly off on this, it's been a few years since I went to college. Let me put that amount into perspective: renting a room on a college campus or in a small appartment with roommates is about 300 euros per month, depending on the city and the size of the apartment. That's excluding college fees, new books, food, laundry and whatever else a person needs to live. The standard grant is not really much.

So to compensate, most students have jobs and/or they loan money from the same institution that gives out the grants. These loans are very low on interest and there is no rush to pay them off, in order to give the students time to graduate and find a job. A loan like this can go up to 600 euros per month.

A slight detail: The standard grant turns into a loan if you don't manage to finish college within four years. So if you need more time, you suddenly have 250 x 9 months (you get no money in the summer) x 4 years = 9000 euros debt. And that is not counting the remainder of time it takes you to graduate, the extra money loaned or the public transportation pass, which I will explain below.

As an aside, let me explain how I survived my college years here. I had the bigger standard grant because I didn't live with my parents, so 250 euros. Now I'm a lucky rich kid, so my parents agreed to chip in and send me 500 euros per month. At the particular college I went to, the monthly fee was about 120 per month to attend classes. I lived in a shared apartment at first, for 300 euros per month and I moved to a private apartment later for 350 euros per month, but let's for the sake of argument say 300. I didn't have a job, which meant that I had more time to spend on studying and my parents liked it that way.

So that's 250 + 500 = 750 income per month. 750 - 300 for the apartment and - 120 of college fees = 320 euros per month to eat, buy books, do my laundry etc. Now let me add that students in the Netherlands get a pass to use all public transportation for free, either during the week or during the weekends, but not both, so it's safe to say that not many students have to pay for a car or fuel from this money they have left. Just food and basic amenities. And I was fucking rich compared to most of my fellow students. They had lousy jobs, they scraped by every month eating two euro meals from MacDonalds and other fast food places or just plain bread because they couldn't afford warm meals those last days of the month. I have no idea how they had any time left to visit their parents and do their homework beside those jobs they needed to stay clothed and fed.

Ok, so that's the perspective. Now imagine that the government wants to take away those grants. Not just the standard grant, which I don't think anyone will miss, because it's just not even enough to pay your rent. No, they want to take away the loans as well. Or maybe not take them away, but they want to register the students along with anyone else who has more than 15 000 euros in debts as ineligible for any more loans, which basically means ineligible for a mortgage, aka a decent place to live. Which students do you think have debts of 15 000 or more? Let me illustrate: I didn't finish in four years; my debt is over 17 000 euros, because they want the money back from the public transportation pass as well. I'm not even sure how the money for the public transportation pass is calculated, I'm open for suggestions on that part.

Ok, so if I with my rich parents and no additional loan managed to get myself into a debt of more than 17 000 euros, how much debt do you think the poor kids have? Take a guess. I have no clue. It just makes me /facepalm to think that the government wants to cut into that money that students need to scrape by. Maybe they want to go back to that system where only the elite can go to college because the rest simply doesn't have the money?
Tags: opinion, ponderings
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