On July 1, 2017, the Dutch government revised the Wet tegemoetkoming onderwijsbijdrage en schoolkosten by royal decree. The royal decree revoked the right to receive the tegemoetkoming scholieren, a secondary school grant, for children of knowledge migrants and EU Blue Card holders. Last Summer, Mynta Law represented a client in court regarding the right to receive the tegemoetkoming scholieren, and won the case. In this article, we explain why the judge’s verdict may also save your child tens of thousands of euros in tuition fees.

What is the tegemoetkoming scholieren?

The tegemoetkoming scholieren is a special benefit granted by the Dutch Ministry of Education under the Wet tegemoetkoming onderwijsbijdrage en schoolkosten (“Law on the reimbursement of educational contribution and school expenses”) to people over the age of 18 who are still in secondary school. To qualify for this benefit, students have to be between 18 and 30 years old and still in one of the following types of secondary schools: vwo, havo, vmbo, mavo, lwoo, praktijkonderwijs, vso or vavo

Additionally, applicants need to meet certain requirements for nationality and residence, as listed in the Wet tegemoetkoming onderwijsbijdrage en schoolkostenOn July 1, 2017, however, the Dutch government revoked the secondary school grant for children of knowledge migrants and EU Blue Card holders, as the Dutch Ministry of Education believes that children of knowledge migrants and EU Blue Card holders with an independent residence permit do not have the right to apply for secondary school grants.

What are the benefits of receiving the tegemoetkoming scholieren?

The specific amount of the tegemoetkoming scholieren is related to whether the student is still living with their parents. If the student still lives with a parent, the monthly grant is €113. If the student does not live with their parents, the monthly grant is €265. Furthermore, if the parents are on a low income, the child can receive an additional grant of up to €117 per month.

But the benefits of the tegemoetkoming scholieren are not limited to this annual subsidy of 1400 – 2,800 euros. Its significance also stems from another reason: according to the Wet tegemoetkoming onderwijsbijdrage en schoolkosten, if a student has received the tegemoetkoming scholieren in secondary school, the student is entitled to Dutch student finance (commonly known as: studiefinanciering or stufi) when they start higher education. And when a foreign student receives Dutch student finance, they pay the EU tuition fee.

This is significant because, according to the Wet tegemoetkoming onderwijsbijdrage en schoolkosten, (children of) knowledge migrants and European Blue Card holders are not eligible for Dutch university grants. Even if the student’s right of abode is an independent residence permit derived from the residence permit of relatives, the Dutch Ministry of Education refuses to grant student finance. The only way to obtain Dutch student finance is thus to first receive the tegemoetkoming scholieren. When a student chooses to pursue higher education after completing secondary school, they will continue to receive student finance because they have previously received a secondary school grant. Not receiving a tegemoetkoming scholieren, therefore, means that a student has to pay tens of thousands of euros in tuition fees if they want to pursue higher education in the Netherlands.

How much money can you save in tuition fees by first receiving the tegemoetkoming scholieren?

Dutch universities divide their tuition fees into EU tuition fees and non-EU tuition fees. As an example, take the bachelor’s program International Business Administration at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam: their non-EU tuition fee for the 2018-2019 academic year is € 10,200. The EU tuition fee for the same course is  € 2,060. This means that a student from outside of the EU will pay € 8,140 more than EU students. International Business Administration is a three-year program. So the extra costs will be € 24,420 (€ 8140 x 3 =  € 24,420). After receiving their bachelor’s degree, Dutch students generally choose to proceed to a master’s program. The tuition fee for the master’s program International Business Management at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is € 14,600. The EU tuition for the same program is still  € 2060. The student will thus pay an extra  € 12,540 in tuition fees to complete their final year. Added up, the student must pay at least  € 36,960 in tuition fees if they want to complete a full bachelor’s and master’s program, not including possible delay.

Dutch Judge’s verdict on receiving tegemoetkoming scholieren

Our client, hereinafter referred to as Xiao Zhang, is a secondary school student. He applied to the Dutch Ministry of Education for the tegemoetkoming scholieren in May 2017.According to Dutch law at the time, Xiao Zhang had the right to receive the tegemoetkoming scholieren. The Dutch Ministry of Education, however, already knew that the King of the Netherlands would issue a new royal decree starting July 1, 2017 and therefore rejected Xiao Zhang’s application at the end of May 2017. At the beginning of July of the same year, Xiao Zhang entrusted Mynta Law to propose administrative reconsideration to the Ministry of Education. In August 2017, the Dutch Ministry of Education rejected Xiao Zhang’s administrative reconsideration. Xiao Zhang holds an independent residence permit, but the independent residence permit is derived from the residence permit of his relatives. His parents are Chinese knowledge migrants. Therefore, the Dutch Ministry of Education believes that, according to the royal decree implemented on July 1, 2017, Xiao Zhang has no right to receive a tegemoetkoming scholieren. Xiao Zhang refused to accept the decision and sued the Dutch Ministry of Education. In June 2018, the Dutch court heard the case and in August 2018, the judge ruled in favor of Xiao Zhang.

The judge explained: the royal decree issued by the King of the Netherlands on July 1, 2017 is not clear enough and the interpretation of the royal decree’s supporting legislation (Nota van toelichting) is not clearly stated. The changes made on July 1st only included technical and editorial revisions, which the agent of the Dutch Ministry of Education also confirmed in court. The judge therefore believes that the understanding of the law after July 1, 2017 should be compared with that of before July 1,, 2017. The judge believes that secondary school students with an independent residence permit should have the right to apply for the tegemoetkoming scholieren.

The implications of the Dutch judge’s verdict on the tegemoetkoming scholieren

According to the verdict discussed, secondary school students with an independent residence permit should continue to have the right to apply for a tegemoetkoming scholieren. In response to the verdict discussed above, the Dutch Ministry of Education has the right to appeal to the Dutch Supreme Court within 6 weeks. If the Ministry of Education chooses not to appeal, this verdict will become the final verdict. And if so, all secondary school students over the age of 18 who hold an independent residence permit can apply for a for a tegemoetkoming scholieren at the Dutch Ministry of Education in accordance with this judgment. This verdict has not yet been published in any relevant law-specific journals. In our experience, the application date must clearly indicate the date of the specific verdict, the case number, and the relevant verdict paragraph to be accepted for processing. If your child is 18 years old and still attending secondary school, you are advised to contact Mynta Law and send your child’s information to us. At the end of the 6-week appeal period, we can immediately submit a tegemoetkoming scholieren application for your child. If your child has not yet obtained independent residence, we advise you to contact us immediately to help your child apply for independent residence. For more information, read our latest news on independent residence permits for Children in the Netherlands.


The legal specialists of Mynta Law help both foreign and Dutch companies and individuals with small and large immigration issues. Whether you want to learn more about business immigration of skilled migrants and entrepreneurs, are a foreign student interested in your extended stay opportunities in the Netherlands, or have a question about migration options for your family, we will answer all your questions quickly and professionally.

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