Students with an EU-nationality are only eligible for study finance if they have been living in the Netherlands for five (or more) consecutive years of if they are deemed ‘migrant workers’. The EU-students have to jump through far more hoops in order to be granted study finance than Dutch students. What do EU-students have to look out for when applying for study finance?  

Side-job or migrant worker?

Paid employees can be deemed ‘migrant workers’ and can be eligible for study finance. Condition to this is that the student carries out effective and genuine activities, excluding any activities that are on such a small scale as to be regarded as purely marginal and ancillary. The student has to be economically active. In other words: the student has to be able to (mostly) support themselves.

DUO has developed policy to fill in the terms ‘migrant worker’ and ‘economically active’. Every student who can show that he has worked 56 hours or more in the last month is automatically deemed a ‘migrant worker’ and will be granted study finance. The 56 hour-norm is the average number of hours worked.

For example: only being able to work one day a week in April because of exams can be compensated by working three days a week in May when you have no classes.

DUO is not allowed to reject an application for study finance based solely on the fact that a student does not work (on average) 56 hours a month. European law states that someone who works less than 56-hours a month can still be deemed economically active. When a student cannot prove that he has worked the 56 hours as required by DUO, DUO is obligated to further investigate the student’s personal circumstances.

The nature of the contract is not decisive when judging if a student can be deemed a ‘migrant worker’. Students with zero-hour contracts, min-max contracts and on-call contracts can all be deemed economically active.

Applying for study finance as a European student in practice

When applying for study finance it is important that students provide DUO with all necessary information. Most important is of course to provide DUO with an employment contract. The employment contract will have to show that the student (i) is hired to perform work, (ii) under the supervision of an employer and (iii) is paid for this work.

When applying for study finance make sure that you have submitted all the necessary documents. DUO can take up to eight weeks with their decision but – if a student fails to provide all the necessary information – this decision period can be extended.

In many cases DUO will only grant study finance for a couple of months, usually dependent on the nature or length of the submitted employment contract. After these months the student will have to provide DUO with new payslips after which the study finance will be granted for a couple more months. This is a tedious process which can leave EU-students in a great deal of uncertainty. Unfortunately, the Centrale Raad van Beroep (CRvB) – the highest administrative court – finds that DUO has legitimate grounds for such a more stringent approach to granting study finance to foreign students than to Dutch students. DUO has a special interest in periodically checking to see if students are still eligible. The administrative burden this brings to foreign students is considered – by the court – to be proportional.

Study finance for self-employed persons?

It is also possible for self-employed persons to be eligible for study finance. Here, the same conditions apply as for paid employees: the student has to be economically active and carry out effective and genuine activities. Difference is that self-employed persons are not able to provide DUO with an employment contract. They will have to provide DUO with (for example) a registration to the Dutch Chamber of Commerce (Kamer van Koophandel) and tax declarations. DUO will judge from the income of the company and the hours the self-employed person claims to have worked, if the activities are deemed effective and genuine. See for example ECLI:NL:RBAMS:2012:BY02381:

A student, of Bulgarian nationality, has a web developing company. His company has been active for ten months and he has applied for study finance for the same period. The student’s tax declarations show that his company has generated a total revenue of € 5.040,–. The student claims to have been economically active for 56 hours every month. This would mean that the student has an hourly rate of € 9,–. Since this is (virtually) the rate of the statutory minimum wage the court deems these activities to be more than just marginal and ancillary. The student is granted study finance.

More information

Are you a student with an European nationality and have you been denied study finance or has your study finance been revoked? Contact one of our lawyers and send them the written decision from DUO to assess. We can appeal the decision for you. You can reach us at: vandamme@honoreadvocaten.nl or at: 030 214 51 50.

1This case was modified to fit the present-day law and criteria.