Nieuws - 17 november 2011

Senate approves tough measures against student grant fraud

Students who live with their parents but still receive a live-out grant will risk getting a heavy fine from 1 January. The Dutch Upper House has approved on Tuesday the tough measures put up by State Secretary Zijlstra.

At present, defrauders have to pay back only the excess amount of money received, which is about two thousand euros a year. From 1 January next year, they will have to pay, op top of this sum, a fine amounting to half of this amount. Anyone caught cheating a second time has to pay two thousand euros more even, runs the risk of being prosecuted and loses the right to a student grant.
The number of spot checks per year will increase to four thousand by 2013. According to Zijlstra, this would mean that one out of five suspected students could get a visit from the inspector. These are the students who, for example, claim to live in the same street as their parents, or have addresses illogically far away from the place where they study while their parents live much closer by.
Furthermore, the DUO (Dutch student grant service) soon only has to prove that a student does not live at the address reported at the municipality. Currently, the DUO has to establish that a student suspected of committing fraud is actually living with his/her parents, something which is almost impossible in practice.
Later this month, all students will receive a letter pointing to these new measures against the misuse of the live-out grant. This fraudulent practice currently costs the government an estimated 40 to 55 million euros annually.