The fundamentalist Christian SGP has launched a plan to increase the amount of money available for student grants – by increasing the tax on gambling.
The Netherlands abolished student grants in 2015 for all but the poorest students, but there is now majority support in parliament for a rethink.
Currently people whose parents have an income of less than €50,000 a year can claim some government support on a sliding scale. The poorer the parents, the more a student can claim.
The SGP is now suggesting increasing that threshold to €64,000 – which would mean a further 20,000 to 30,000 students would be eligible for an average grant of €175 a month. This, the party argues in the Volkskrant, would reduce the size of the debt students from middle-income families are currently building up.
To pay for the change, the party says the tax on gambling should go up from 30% to 38.5%.
The current cabinet agreed not to make changes to the current student loan system, but since then two of the four parties – the Christian Democrats and ChristenUnie – have both said they back bringing back some form of grants.
Education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven said in September she has asked for the student loan system to be reexamined and is not opposed to reforms if it transpires that some students are being disadvantaged.
Students have run up a an average debt of €21,000 by the time they leave university and college.
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