Edition 2023

Foto omschrijving: Students protesting the abolition of the basic grant.

How many people have a student debt?

At the beginning of 2022, 1.6 million students and former students in the Netherlands had an outstanding student debt. Just over half of them owed less than 10 thousand euros. Over 100 thousand students and graduates had a debt of at least 50 thousand euros, of whom 1.4 thousand owed over 100 thousand euros.

Hoeveel mensen hebben een studieschuld? How many people have a student debt? 822 100 tot €10 000 up to €10K 490 900 €10K to €30K 202 200 €30K to €50K 107 500 €50 000 of meer €50K or more
1,6 miljoenmensenhebben een totale studieschuldvan €26,6 miljard 1.6 million people have student debts to a total of €26.6 billion

The average Dutch study debtnoot1 at the start of 2022 amounted to 16.4 thousand euros. In September 2015, the government introduced the student loan system. This scheme replaced the basic grant. Since then, the average debt has risen by 4 thousand euros. Just over one million people in the Netherlands were still repaying their student loans in 2015. After that, this number grew by another 600 thousand.

Average student debt, 1 January (x 1,000 euros)
Jaar Average student debt
2011 12.6
2012 11.8
2013 11.9
2014 12.2
2015 12.4
2016 12.3
2017 12.4
2018 12.9
2019 14.4
2020 15.3
2021* 15.5
2022* 16.4
*Provisional figures

Highest debts for 25 to 29‑year-olds

People aged 25 to 29 years had the highest outstanding debt at the beginning of 2022. Most of them had graduated and were repaying their loans. Their debts averaged 21.2 thousand euros. People over the age of 30 had an outstanding debt of 18.2 thousand euros on average.

Study debts of under-20s were substantially lower: 2.4 thousand euros on average. However, most of them are still studying and their debts are still building up. In the age group 20 to 24 years, three-quarters are enrolled in higher education and still building up debt. The average debt in this age group is 13.9 thousand euros.

Men had yet to repay an average 16.8 thousand euros in student loans at the beginning of 2022. Women owed slightly less: 16 thousand euros on average.

Average student debt, 1 January 2022* (x 1,000 euros)
Kenmerk Average student debt
Total 16,4
0-20 yrs 2,4
20-24 yrs 13,9
25-29 yrs 21,2
30 yrs and over 18,2
Men 16,8
Women 16,0
*Provisional figures

Total outstanding study debt approaching 27 billion euros

The overall outstanding study debt of students and former students had risen to 26.6 billion euros at the beginning of 2022. Since the basic grant was abolished in 2015, the total study debt has doubled. The debt is increasing yearly as both the number of students with loans and the amount they borrow have risen since 2015.

The loan system is to end in academic year 2023–2024. The Dutch government has decided to reinstate the basic grant scheme for students in higher education.

Total student debt, 1 January (bn euros)
Jaar Total student debt
2011 9.5
2012 10.2
2013 10.9
2014 11.8
2015 12.7
2016 13.9
2017 15.4
2018 17.5
2019 20.6
2020 23.1
2021* 25.0
2022* 26.6
*Provisional figures


Study debt

Study debts include

  • study debts of current students under the Student Finance Act (WSF), excluding provisional performance-related grants, and
  • study debts of former students under the long-term debt collection scheme (ILS), and
  • study debts under the lifelong learning credit scheme (LLLK).


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Explanation of symbols

Explanation of symbols

Empty cell figure not applicable
. figure is unknown, insufficiently reliable or confidential
* provisional figure
** revised provisional figure
(between two numbers) inclusive
0 (0.0) less than half of unit concerned
2016–2017 2016 to 2017 inclusive
2016/2017 average for the years 2016 up to and including 2017
2016/’17 crop year, financial year, school year etc., beginning in 2016 and ending in 2017
2004/’05–2016/’17 crop year etc. 2004/’05 up to and including 2016/’17

Due to rounding, some totals may not correspond to the sum of the separate figures.

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Concept & image editor

Irene van Kuik, Janneke Hendriks, Richard Jollie

With thanks to Hendrik Zuidhoek


Annelie Hakkenes (final editing)

Elma Wobma (general project leader)

Erik van den Berg

Gert Jan Wijma

Karolien van Wijk

Michel van Kooten

Paul de Winden

Saskia Stavenuiter

Sidney Vergouw


Gabriëlle de Vet, Lieneke Hoeksma, Frans Dinnissen


Ronald van der Bie

We thank all CBS colleagues who have contributed to this edition.