Many vocational students not applying for supplementary grants they're entitled to
A quarter of secondary vocational students (MBO) do not apply for a supplementary grant even though they're entitled to them, the central planning office CPB reported based on data from 2019. Half of MBO students in 2019 were entitled to the grant intended for students whose parents have a lower income. But only a quarter applied for it, NOS reports.
Not applying for the supplementary grant, which can run up to 370 euros per month, can have several disadvantages, CPB researcher Paul Verstraten said to the broadcaster. "For example, it may be that parents help financially, while the parents in those groups have little financial strength." There is also the risk that students end up borrowing more than they need to or decide not to study at all because the costs deter them, he said.
The CPB did not research why students refrained from applying for the supplementary grant. But researchers think it's because they don't know it exists, think they are not eligible for it, or think the application is too complicated.
According to the CPB, it could help if DUO - the organization that pays the grant - approaches students directly if they are entitled to the supplementary grant or automatically ticks the option to apply for it. However, the second option could result in inadvertent study debt if they don't graduate within ten years. In the highest MBO levels, the grant only becomes a gift if the student obtains their diploma within ten years.
DUO told NOS that it is already drawing more attention to the supplementary grant with better information provision and a notice on its website. Improving the application process will be part of the reintroduction of the basic grant in the next academic year, the organization said.