Monday 02 August 2021

Include student debts in debt register, financial watchdog says


Student debts should be listed with the official debt registration agency BKR to make sure youngsters don’t over-reach themselves when taking out a mortgage, financial services watchdog AFM said on Thursday.

Some 15% of first-time buyers do not tell their mortgage provider about the debt, which may mean that they go on to have trouble making the payments, the AFM said. Today’s students run up an average debt of around €21,000 by the time they graduate

However, the move would be politically sensitive because when student grants were scrapped, the government agreed not to include student debts in the BKR listing. Most parties now want to see grants brought back.

Some 11 million people are registered with the BKR, which lists agreements with banks and mortgage providers, defacto loans for mobile phones and debts with other official credit agencies.

It considers a debt to problematic if payments have been missed at least three times in row, or if the person has agreed a payment scheme to clear a debt.

The BKR too has said student loans should be included in its portfolio.

Education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven said later in a reaction that the government believed including student debts in the debt register would scare off some students from going to college or university.

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