Opinion: High Drama (Unpaid study financing)

POSTED: 04/8/16 4:05 PM

In euros the amount sounds still not all that shocking (€25 million), but in guilders it becomes very clear that our students are not all that faithful when it comes to paying back their study financing to the Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs (Duo) in the Netherlands. We have approximately one thousand former students who between them are indebted for 51 million guilders to Duo. With numbers like that, one may well wonder how much uncollected study finance repayments our government has on the books.

Duo has lost track of most of its debtors in St. Maarten but surely, they must at least have their names. How difficult could it be for the government to help Duo out and to make sure that these former students meet their obligations?

The outstanding debt certainly does not make St. Maarten look good. It’s like out students managed to rob the Dutch state of 51 million.

In the big scheme of things the amount is not all that relevant for the Netherlands. The thing is, debts like this affect the standing of St. Maarten, not only in the Netherlands, but in the world.

One may assume that these former students do not belong to the riffraff of society; that they have decent jobs and a decent income. To those who fell through the cracks and who do not have a job, Duo has extended a helping hand. It has asked for address information so that it is able to offer a payment plan.

Those who stick their heads in the sand and think they will get away with this that way will sooner or later be disappointed. Already Duo has dropped the term “bailiff fees” in its communications. Students who do not submit their information by May 1 will therefore be exposed to the practices of a collection agency and once these guys knock on their doors, there will be no payment plan. There will be liens and maybe even bankruptcies. In other words, doing nothing could result in high drama.

The tendency to ignore all these signs is very human. We never think something bad is going to happen to us and we figure that our chances of winning the lottery are much higher. Don’t fool yourself, it is the other way around. Neglect and inactivity will get you into hot water.

Fortunately, it is not too late to take action. Once the deadline is gone, don’t whine once the bailiff shows up on your doorstep.

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