The story of a typical student's life can be summarised in a single word: broke. In all seriousness, though you may not be entirely broke, you may be feeling some financial pressure. It is a known fact that university can be expensive, from the tuition fee to the textbooks. However, that is why the concept of financial aid was created. In the case of financial aid in the Netherlands, it can sometimes be a bit tricky to find the right information. Most of the government websites are in Dutch and the information can seem quite confusing. But it doesn’t have to be. College Life is here to bring you this ultimate guide to financial aid in the Netherlands! Whether you are looking to apply for student finance, find a scholarship, or learn more about alternatives to finding funding, this is the place to start.
Let’s get started; pick the category you are most interested in or simply follow along the whole way through!
Student Finance in the Netherlands
When we talk about student finance we are talking about funding your studies and (possibly) other costs of living. Most student finance is generally targeted to low-income students. In general, there are three ways in which you can finance your studies: financial aid, scholarships, and self-funding. Financial aid in the Netherlands is known as studiefinanciering or student financial aid. It is a scheme set up by the Dutch government to fund tuition fees and other living costs of eligible students. Then, there are scholarships, which function in a similar way, but are based on an awards system. Finally, there are other ways of ensuring you can afford your studies, including applying for a private loan, getting a job or applying for allowances.
Public financial aid
The Dutch government provides public aid. This covers student finance and benefits like healthcare and housing allowances.
Student financial aid, or studiefinanciering in Dutch, is a 3-part financial aid package intended to help students with paying their tuition fees and student life. There are requirements you need to meet, with some students being eligible for all 3 components and some maybe one or two. The first is the loan or the tuition fee loan; the second is the supplementary grant, and the third is the student travel product.
Allowances are sums of money gifted to low-income citizens, or students, to aid with some of their living costs. Healthcare allowance is a monthly sum provided by the Dutch government to help cover your monthly health insurance bill. Similarly, the housing allowance is a sum to help with your monthly rent. As with student finance, there are specific requirements you need to meet. You can read more about this on our Allowances page.
Aside from student finance, there is also the option of applying for a scholarship. A scholarship is like financial aid but it comes in the form of an award. Scholarships are usually given out by universities or other donors or institutions. Scholarships are also awarded based on specific criteria, like having certain grades or possessing certain qualities. Unlike a loan, scholarship money does not have to be paid back!
How can I get a scholarship?
There are numerous scholarships targeted to students wishing to study in the Netherlands. Some scholarships will be for specific nationals, types of degrees, or areas of study. You can read our Scholarships page to find out about some of the most popular scholarships in the Netherlands!
It is best to start doing your research as early as possible. Check your university website if they offer any scholarships, or have a look at our Scholarship page. The more time you spend researching, the more open options you will find. If you wait till the last minute, most scholarships might already be closed. Researching the criteria is also important. There will be specific scholarships you are eligible for, and those that you are not.
All scholarships will have a deadline for applying. They will all also have their own specific regulations for sending in your application. So, when you apply, make sure to read the instructions carefully. You need to make sure to send the institution all the necessary documents. Also think about the appearance of your application; no spelling mistakes, unnecessary information, and strange formatting!
If you don't qualify for public aid or scholarships, you can always look for funding independently. This means that you can search for a part-time job to combine with your studies or you can look into private loans.
This type of financing comes usually from private companies that can offer you a loan in exchange for an interest rate. Since EU/EEA students are eligible for collegeldkrediet (the tuition fee loan) which currently has a very attractive interest rate, private aid is usually for non-EA/EEA citizens. If you are interested in a private loan, contact your university to request more information on partnerships with institutions from your country that provide such loans.
Costs of living and student budgeting
Whether you're funding yourself or receiving aid, it's always important to be aware of what expenses you'll have to deal with and prepare yourself for those. Learning how to budget is an important first step.
Costs of living
Aside from your tuition fees, it is important to be aware of your other living costs. Living costs can cover a broad spectrum of things, from rent to food to textbooks. Your living costs could include:
- Your tuition.
- Monthly rent. Depending on where in the Netherlands you are living, the housing market can be quite expensive. Are you on the hunt for somewhere to live? Check out our Complete Guide to Student Housing, where we give you advice on finding a place to live!
- Monthly utilities. Find out more about utilities in our Utilities Guide. We also have great tips on how to save some money on your utilities!
- Your food. Everyone needs to eat, right? Most likely, you will be doing a weekly shop for groceries. Some supermarkets are more expensive than others. Visit places like Aldi, Plus or Albert Heijn.
- Textbooks and other school supplies. Textbooks can often be very expensive, so buying them second-hand is a smart way to save some money. You can find textbooks in the Facebook groups of your study program.
- Going out or eating out. Just because you are on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t experience student life to the fullest! You can always pre-drink at home with friends, or choose cheaper alternatives when eating at restaurants.
- Transport like trams, trains, buses or Ubers, for example.
- Extras like clothes or shopping. This might be a necessity for you, or it might be something you spend your extra cash on.
You could consider helping yourself out in the finance department by sticking to a budget. Sounds fun, right? It’s not as difficult as you might think. Having a budget simply means you are more aware of how much you are spending and what you are spending your money on. You can set yourself a monthly or weekly limit in regards to the amount of money that you allow yourself to use, delegating a certain sum to certain things. For example, you could set aside a certain amount for your rent, and then for food or going out. We came up with a fool-proof formula for keeping a budget, so take a look if you are unsure of how to budget yourself!
Student Finance for EU/EEA Students
EU/EEA students have a lot of options when it comes to funding their studies. Firstly, you can apply for Dutch studiefinanciering, which can cover your tuition fees, among other things. Then, there is also the option of applying for a scholarship. Working during your studies can also come in handy as a way to fund your studies.
Student finance - DUO
DUO is the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science and they handle all things education-related. DUO works to provide a good education for students, as well as promote the arts and culture. They also want to prepare you for independence and allow teachers, artists, and scientists further their work. DUO also handles public financial aid. In the Netherlands, public financial aid exists to help students with their finances during their higher education. This includes universities of applied sciences (hogescholen, or HBO) and research universities (universiteiten, or WO). Universities of applied sciences specialize in a particular field, like the arts or engineering. Universities are more general. In Dutch, student financial aid is called studiefinanciering. You might be seeing this word a lot if you intend on applying for financial aid!
What is included in Dutch student financial aid?
Student financial aid, or studiefinanciering, consists of three components: a loan, a supplementary grant, and a student travel product. A disclaimer before we explain anything else: not everyone will be eligible for all 3 components. It depends on the requirements you meet. Firstly, there are some general requirements you need to meet in order to be eligible for studiefinanciering:
- You must be a Dutch national or have the same rights as a Dutch national (depends on resident permit/nationality).
- Or, you must be an EU/EEA or Swiss national.
- You must be registered in a full-time or dual degree program in higher vocational education (HBO) or university.
- Must be under 30
- You must also be registered with a city hall. When you register, you get a citizen service number or BSN, and a DigiID number.
- Finally, you must have a Dutch bank account.
The 3 components of student finance and their requirements:
The student loan
The 'student loan' and 'tuition fee loan'. If you pay the statutory fee (Dutch and EU students), the maximum loan is €167.17 per month. If you pay the institutional fee (non-EU students) the loan is a maximum of €867.68 per month. To be able to apply for the tuition fee loan, you must be an EU/EEA or Swiss national. For the student loan, you must be a resident of the EU/EEA or Switzerland and have lived in the Netherlands for at least the last 5 years. You must pay back your loan(s) after you graduate.
The supplementary grant is an additional grant that you do not have to pay back after you graduate. You are eligible for this grant if you meet the requirements for the student loan and your parent's combined income is lower than €50.000 per year. DUO has a calculator that you can use to see if you fall within the range of the supplementary grant. If you have not been living in the Netherlands for the past 5 years (at least) as per the requirements of the student loan, to receive both the loan and supplementary grant you must be employed by a Dutch employer for at least 56 hours a month.
Student travel product
The student travel product provides a discount for traveling with Dutch public transport. You can choose to travel for free on weekdays or weekends. You also get a student travel loan of around €89.07 a month. To be eligible for this, you need to meet the requirements of the student loans.
Here's a visual summary of all the conditions:
In conclusion, if you are not Dutch, EU or Swiss (or have the same rights as those who are), you cannot apply for Dutch student finance. However, there are other ways to fund your studies, like through scholarships.
How can I apply for studiefinanciering?
You can apply with the necessary documents, as well as your BSN and DigiID, through DUO's website. Log in to DUO.nl using your DigiID. If you don't, or can't, do this online, you can find the forms to download here (under login problems). You can read more about applying for student finance on our Application page, where we dive into more detail on the process.
Scholarships for EU/EEA students
Scholarships are based on merit, and usually, the receiver (or receivers) of the scholarship is chosen from a pool of applicants. There are multiple types of scholarships, ranging from university-specific or course-specific to nationality-specific ones. For EU-students, there is a large range of scholarships you can check out.
One of the most popular scholarships is Erasmus +, which is a scholarship intended for students who wish to study abroad or do a traineeship, within the EU.
Erasmus Mundus is a scholarship for Master's students from around the world. You have to study in two of the recognized counties for a certain period of time. Read more about it here.
There's also the NN Future Matters scholarship. This scholarship is intended for EU students wishing to study a Master's degree in the Netherlands. With this scholarship, you can also get a grant, and it applies to students from specific countries studying specific programs. You can read about the specifications here.
Your university may also have a scholarship or two that you are eligible to apply for. Just search their website for their scholarship page or contact them directly.
You can head on over to our Scholarships page, where we go into the specifics in more detail. Or check out this post where we discuss scholarships for EU students!
Jobs for EU/EEA students
Popular jobs for students who want to work alongside their studies include part-time jobs such as bartending, waiting tables, working in retail, or working on campus. Furthermore, you could consider doing an internship while you study or during your holidays.
Have a look at the College Life Job Board. It is a job board designed exclusively for international students, with listings for English-speaking jobs in the Netherlands. We have a variety of jobs spanning internships, part-time jobs, and graduate positions. Other places you can look for student jobs include your campus or through your network. You can read more about how to find an English-speaking job in our guides to working or finding a part-time job or internship in the Netherlands!
As an EU/EEA student, you don’t need to worry about having a working permit or working Visa.
There is no limit to how many hours you can work a week. Just keep your schedule in mind, since you need to be able to balance your studies, social life, and work.
Another extremely important thing to remember is that you need health insurance. Dutch law requires that all employees have (at least) basic health insurance. You cannot work without healthcare. You can easily sign up for affordable health insurance through College Life. You can also get by with insurance from your home country if they have some sort of international scheme or extend their insurance to the Netherlands. You can also apply for a European Health Insurance Card as an alternative.
Student Finance for Non-EU/EEA Students
If you are not an EU/EEA, Swiss or Dutch national (or have similar rights), you cannot apply for studiefinanciering. However, there are other ways to receive financial aid!
Scholarships for non-EU/EEA students
There are also plenty of scholarships for non-EU/EEA students. Scholarships are based on a merit system. Essentially, they are awarded to one or a group of candidates from a pool of applicants. Depending on the scholarship, you may have your tuition fees covered, or receive a grant to be spent however you like.
The Orange Tulip Scholarship Programme is a scholarship open to non-EU students. This scholarship is for students coming from Neso countries, like Brazil or Vietnam, among others. You can read more about it here, including the list of other countries involved.
The MENA Scholarship Programme is intended for students coming from the Middle East and North Africa. This is a great scholarship if you want to take short courses in the Netherlands in fields such as the arts or economics.
Then, there is also the Holland Scholarship, designed for non-EEA students who want to study a Bachelor or Master's degree in the Netherlands. You receive a grant of €5,000, and lots of different academic institutions all over the Netherlands are partnered with the program. You can look for more information here, or on the university website of your choice.
There are more scholarships for international students, among the many we have mentioned here. You can read all about non-EU scholarships on this page, or head to our Scholarships page for a more general overview of scholarships in the Netherlands.
Jobs for non-EU/EEA students
As with EU students, finding a job is another alternative to financing your studies, at least partly. Or, just a way to earn some money and gain working experience. On our list of the top 5 jobs for international students include working on campus, at an internship or in the service industry.
You can check out the College Life Job Board to find jobs designed specifically for international students. On the Job Board, you will find a range of jobs from internships to part-time work to graduate positions. And the great thing is, they are all English-speaking and based in the Netherlands. You can also read about how it works here.
Other resources to find jobs include your campus, university career service, or through your network. And finally, you can read more about how to find an English-speaking job in our guides to working or finding a part-time job or internship in the Netherlands!
As a non-EU/EEA student, you must have a residence permit and a working permit. Japanese nationals need a residence permit, but not a working permit.
You are limited to working a maximum of 16 hours per week during the school year. In June, July and August you can work as many hours as you wish. You can read more about the requirements for working in the Netherlands as a non-EU student on this page.
You must also have healthcare insurance! Dutch law states that all employees must have health insurance, or you cannot work. Through College Life Insurance, you can immediately sign up for health insurance.
Allowances, while not specifically for students, can provide some support and financial aid. Allowance are essentials grants given by the government for specific living costs, like for healthcare and housing.
Aside from your tuition fees and general costs of living, you have to remember other costs like those for your health insurance. Health insurance is important to have, even as a student, because you can never be sure if or when you might need it. Especially as an international student, you need to be insured for medical costs during your stay in the Netherlands.
Furthermore, if you are planning to work alongside your studies, you must have health insurance. It is Dutch law that employees have, at least, basic Dutch health insurance. College Life has partnered up with UnitedConsumers to provide students with affordable health insurance solutions for students. For all information about health insurance, see our Healthcare Guide.
When you have Dutch health insurance, you can also be eligible for health insurance allowance. This is essentially a benefit provided by the Dutch government that goes towards the monthly insurance bill of low-income residents. If you meet certain criteria, you can apply for this benefit.
What are the requirements?
- You pay for Dutch public health insurance (basisverzekering). Warning: you cannot apply if you are privately insured!
- You must study in the Netherlands and be 30 or under
- Or, you must study in the Netherlands and have an internship, traineeship, or part-time job with a monthly salary.
- The amount you receive also depends on whether you have a toeslagpartner or not. This is essentially a ‘supplementary partner’ which whom you apply for allowances with. For instance, it could be another person who is registered at the same address as you (like a roommate). You can read this post about toeslagpartners to determine if you have one.
How do I apply?
Head over to our healthcare allowance calculator, make your calculation and submit your contact details. Since signing up for healthcare allowance is entirely in Dutch, College Life can then help you process your documents with the tax authorities for a small fee.
In addition to health insurance allowance, there is also such a thing as housing allowance or rent allowance. Rent allowance is also a benefit from the Dutch government that goes towards monthly rental payments. Since it can be difficult to find a place that falls exactly in your price range, applying for rent allowance can be a real savior.
How much rent allowance you receive depends on 4 things: your income (excluding any student finance you might be receiving), the amount of rent you pay, your age, and if you live alone or with flatmates/housemates.
What are the requirements?
- You must be above 18 years old, and have registered at a Dutch municipality and received your BSN number. If you are not an EU/EEA national you need a Dutch residence permit.
- Your income must be below a certain threshold.
- You must rent a house/apartment in the Netherlands. It must be an independent property. This means it has its own front door, a kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. You can also rent part of a house that shares a front door with other people.
- Your flatmates, if you have any, must also be registered at a Dutch municipality. If you have a toeslagpartner, they must also be registered.
- Finally, you (and your flatmates if applicable) must be the only people registered at your address.
How do I apply?
Head over to our housing allowance calculator, make your calculation and submit your contact details. Since signing up for housing allowance is entirely in Dutch, College Life can then help you process your documents with the tax authorities for a small fee.