Blog: More information from ‘Uncle DUO’ please

And, just like that, you have a 40,000 euro student debt. This is what happened to blogger Emma.
Emma Mouthaan

Like many other students, I loaned the maximum from DUO (the Dutch student loan agency) for some time. If you don’t qualify for an additional grant, this is a whopping €1.167,51 per month nowadays. Should you select the maximum loan once you turn 18, and suddenly decide to log into the DUO site again three years later, your debt will have risen to over €40.000.

Is it naive to loan the maximum amount and fail to log in regularly? Yes! But that doesn’t mean it’s okay for students to have the possibility to incur this level of debt, and with the government at that!

Borrowing money from DUO is super simpel

Borrowing money from DUO is super simpel. You log in to their website, enter how much you want to borrow or indicate you wish to have the maximum amount, and, done. Even applying for a credit card from your bank is more difficult. And a credit card generally does not allow you this amount of credit…

Please do not misunderstand me: I am all for being able to borrow the money you need for your education. Without it, I would not have been able to. This does not diminish the fact that I certaintly hold DUO responsible for their lack of information. Most financial institutes have a so-called “care obligation” (according to Dutch financial laws).

This means that the financial service provider must ensure that the customer understand what fiancial product they are being offered, so that they can take a well-informed decision. There is no such care at DUO. I, as a naive 18-year-old had no idea what borrowing the maximum amount for several years would mean for my financial future, and I am certaionly not the only one.

I had no idea what borrowing the maximum amount for several years would mean for my financial future

Should my debt be forgiven in full as a result of the lack of financial information? No. That won’t be necessary. It would be great, but in the end, it was me that spent the money, and it would seem unfair towards the students who borrowed less. But I do call for mandatory financial education for students wanting to apply for a loan from DUO. Because, let’s be honest: it’s ridiculous that it is more difficult to get a credit card than it is to borrow tens of thousands of euros from “Uncle DUO”!?

Emma Mouthaan (25) is a masters student of Molecular Nutrition and Toxicology and is also taking a master in Writing at the VU. Emma blogs on studying and finances on the website The Stingy Student. Previously, she wrote about fashion and food.

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