Student - April 15, 2010

Political parties not so keen on basic student grant

The basic student grant is under threat. Many political parties want to get rid of this subsidy, it appears from their proposed election programmes. The only hope lies in a coalition of CDA (Christian democrats), ChristenUnie (another Christian party) and SP (socialist party).

Now most parties have presented their draft or final election programmes, it seems as if the basic student grant will not be with us much longer. It is striking that the PvdA (labour party) also wants to do away with the grant. The PvdA says it wants to move 'eventually' to a social loan system. The PvdA does want to keep the supplementary grant for students from low-income families.
GroenLinks (green party) has been advocating a graduate tax for years. In this system, students get a basic income. However, graduates earning more than the average will have to pay more tax. A crucial difference between this and the basic student grant is that the latter is a gift.

The VVD and D66 (both liberal parties) also want to scrap the basic student grant. They want students to take out loans. D66 will, however, allow them twenty years to pay the loan back, five more than in the current system. The VVD, like the CDA, also wants to give higher education institutions more freedom to determine tuition fees and use selection for admission.
The CDA wants to keep the basic grant but the Christian democrats are not ruling out the introduction of a loan system. They do want students who take longer to complete their studies to pay more tuition fees.

This spells problems for the basic student grant. The only hope for the gift is the unlikely combination of the CDA, SP and ChristenUnie in a coalition government. Incidentally, even the ChristenUnie wants to ask Master's students for a 'larger financial contribution'.
Most of the party programmes will only be finalized over the next two weeks. The PVV (right-wing party), the Partij voor de Dieren (animal rights party) and the SGP (Protestant party) have not yet made public their positions regarding the student finance system.