Nieuws - 28 februari 2012

Fines issued for the first time for student grant fraud

Fifty-five students have been issued fines this week for fraud relating to the live-out student grant. They were caught during inspections in January and February, reports the Dutch student grant service (DUO).

From 1 January this year, students risk getting heavy fines if they live with their parents but register another residential address at the city hall. Students caught doing so not only have to pay back the excess money received, but will also be fined half of this amount. A student who has cheated for a year would have received about two thousand euros extra. When caught, he has to pay DUO three thousand euros back.
Anyone caught cheating again has to pay back twice the amount, loses the right to a student grant and may face criminal charges.
DUO is cracking down on live-out student grant fraud together with the city halls. Government officers carry out checks based on a 'risky profile'. This concerns students who live too obviously close to their parents, or too far away from their education institution while their parents live closer to it. If a student has been found not living at the address registered with the city hall, DUO will be notified.
A DUO spokesperson is unable to disclose the number of home inspections which were carried out in the first two months of this year. Moreover, a suspected student often receives several visits before getting a fine at his doorstep. However, the inspections have not been conducted in vain, says DUO. 
In any case, students who have been issued fines can resort to arbitration. Last week, a student even won a court case. The judge ruled that the inspection report was questionable on various counts, thus casting doubts on the alleged fraud.
Fraud concerning the live-out student grant costs the government an estimated 40 to 55 million euros a year. Throughout 2013, four thousand home inspections will be carried out.