Thinking about repaying your student loans can be overwhelming. However, hiding from your responsibilities does little to solve your problems – procrastination might, in fact, make your problems worse. 

In this article, we’ll tackle some common fears DUO loan recipients might have to help you overcome and get started on your repayment journey. DUO is the acronym for study financing provided by the Dutch government.

1. Following graduation or when you decide to end your studies, there’s a two-year repayment grace period when repaying your loans is optional.

2. For any reason, you can temporarily pause your repayment period for up to two years. This can be consecutive or as needed. The temporary pause is in addition to the automatic grace period.

3. If you earned your degree(s) within 10 years, the student travel product (OV-kaart) and the basic grant converts into a gift, meaning, you don’t owe those funds.

4. The repayment phase is up to 15 years, or 35 years if the new student finance system applies to you. The sooner you start, the less you pay in interest, and the sooner you can finish!

5. Your DUO debt accrues compound interest, which means that interest is also calculated over the interest itself. In 2018 and 2019, the annual interest rate is 0%.

6. To help Antillean and international residents save on banking fees, you can repay your DUO debt in one annual payment and at a local bank. This option might be cheaper and more convenient than making monthly international wire transfers.

7. There’s a handy repayment calculation tool to determine your monthly amount.

8. You can request to have monthly payments reduced if they are too high. In some cases, recalculation of your monthly instalment might go as low as €0.-.

9. You can contact DUO via the web for free. Their webcare team is available on weekdays from 9:00am to 5:00pm.

10. At the end of your repayment period, the balance of your loan (‘restschuld’) is automatically forgiven. That’s right, as long as you stay faithful to the repayment plan (which is adjusted according to your financial abilities) the Dutch government will erase the remaining balance.

For full details, visit DUO.nl. For English, go to bit.ly/DUOrepay). If you understand Dutch and listening is more your thing, there is a one-hour webinar (bit.ly/DUOvideo) explaining the repayment systems and answering frequently asked questions.

Would you like to share anything about your experiences repaying DUO? Drop us a line at darlene.hodge@thedailyherald.sx.