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Is education free in the Netherlands for international students?

One of the first things prospective students wonder about their study destination is the amount of money that will be necessary. Everyone coming in knows that the Dutch education system is recognized broadly as one of the best around, so perhaps a higher fee is to be expected. Others may know that among European countries, it’s not rare to find places that offer free or nearly free tuition. Of course, international students may even receive particular, paid-for study positions either through scholarships or government allocations. It’s important to know what the case is for the Netherlands, to best prepare yourself, both mentally, as well as financially. Here is included everything you’ll need to know.

Free education?

Not quite; unfortunately, universities in Amsterdam and the Netherlands as a whole require you to pay a tuition fee, regardless of your country of origin. As wonderful as it may be, free education from the get-go remains a distant dream. However, there are important distinctions to make here, that will shape the amount you have to pay. For starters, there are two types of fees: one for EU/EEA nationals, or near persons (such as family members) and another for non-EU/EEA citizens. The cost for international students with no ties to the EU/EEA can be from six to ten times more than for EU/EEA nationals, which average 1500 EUR/year.

Scholarship opportunities

To bypass the fees, you can get a Holland scholarship based on need and merit. There’s a significant number of scholarship opportunities out there for the ones looking to turn their academic careers into success. Involving everything from STEM to the Arts, you can find one that’s right to you by searching online. Dedicated portals, both supported by the government, as well as independent ones, are at your disposal so search for the scholarships that fit you. Once you’ve found the ones you wish to apply to, collect all of the necessary documents and have an appropriate paper trail and try your luck. Even though scholarships are by no means guaranteed or even the easiest way to avoid paying hefty fees, it may work out correctly for you.

Student finance

One great thing about the Netherlands is that if the tuition fees are too high, there’s a government-backed, full-package covering of a substantial loan. It is available if you meet specific criteria. It’s excellent in the sense that you have this financial safety net to fall back on, instead of having to pay significant sums of money from the very start. Student finance in the Netherlands has three main components for which you may be eligible. One consists of the loan itself, and two more aspects: student travel and student grant, which become free if you graduate within ten years.


Suppose you don’t happen to qualify for the student finance option described above. In that case, you’ll be delighted to find out there’s a wide array of student loans in the Netherlands you can take up. Each with differing terms and interest rates, you’ll be able to find one that’s perfect for you. You can now finance your studies without going broke or working full-time, by working together with a loan company to figure something out that works for you.


Finally, if you’d like to quickly pay off your tuition, and make some money on the side, internships in the Netherlands are another great bet. Get hands-on experience working with people from the same or perhaps even different fields and figure out what’s essential for you in a job. Internships and part-time work are both great ways to expand your horizons and embrace new aspects you may not have to deal with during your studies. It’s at times more stressful, and you’ll certainly be very busy. Still, all in all, it’s a rich, fulfilling experience that covers all of your bases. May not be ideal for everyone, but if you’re a hard-worker determined to succeed, it may provide excellent opportunities for you down the line.

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