Column: And now, compensation, please!

Abolishing the loan system is great, of course. But the loan system generation deserves to be compensated.

The end of the loan system is near. Yay! But I don’t want to cheer too soon, as we do not yet know what will replace it. Moreover, negotiations on compensation for the loan system generation are still underway, insiders state. ‘If everyone throughout those years is to be compensated, it will become rather expensive’, a “source” says in the Dutch daily paper AD.

Well, that didn’t sit right with me. Of course, compensation for the loan system generation is expensive! But consider this: if compensating student debt is expensive for the national budget while it will be distributed over all the Dutch citizens, imagine how it weighs on all (former) students who are (unjustly) burdened with debt?!

Students who had to loan money for their education have been impacted in various ways. In most cases, they felt nothing of the promised investments in higher education, while they have much higher student debt. And they may even fail to receive compensation.

It is not okay to say that compensating those with student debts is costly

Moreover, in the Netherlands, we help each other. Financially as well. Consider, for example, the financial provisions that were put in place to support entrepreneurs during the lockdowns (NOW, TOZO, TVL, etc.). The costs thereof are shouldered by society, in spite of the fact that not every person benefits or agrees, for whatever reason (the risk of doing business, anyone?). Washing your hands of the student debt issue and saying that compensating those who incurred debts is too expensive is not okay. I hope everyone in The Hague realises this and acts accordingly.

Anyway, perhaps I am getting ahead of myself, and maybe an adequate provision will be put in place. What should such a provision look like? In the ideal situation, every student who studied during the loan system period would be compensated with a sum equalling the monthly government student grant for the entire period of their studies. That sum could be subtracted from their debt or deposited in the person’s account if they did not incur student debt.

The fact that someone did not incur student debts does not mean they did not feel the negative effects of the loan system!

The fact that someone did not incur student debts does not mean they did not feel the negative effects of the loan system! Some may have continued to live at home to economise or missed out on other things. Only then will the entire loan system generation be able to start the rest of their lives with a clean slate. And those who still have student debt after compensation (like I probably will) will still have to repay the remainder.

Emma Mouthaan (26) is a master’s 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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