Universiteit Leiden

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‘I am not conscious about what I spend my money on’

How do you make sure you have enough money every month? Do you receive a basic grant, have a part-time job or do you borrow for your studies? Below, a student and a recent graduate tell us how they view their student debt.

Are you conscious about how you spend your money?

Manon (student): ‘No. To be honest, I'm quite easy with money. If something turns out to be more expensive once, I'm totally fine with that. But because I am quite easy with money, I was also easy with my loan. As a kind of protection for myself, I stopped borrowing money. In that respect, I am conscious of it. At the moment, I have a part-time job and live at home, which makes it possible to pay for everything without borrowing money. When I lived in a student house, I did have to borrow to pay for everything.’


Is your student debt something think about a lot?

‘When I was still borrowing money, I felt financial pressure. It didn't feel right to borrow 900 euros every month. You use up the money quite easily. But I don't look forward to paying off my student debt. I do try to work on it and limit the amount a bit, which is why I have stopped borrowing now. I also feel that with a lower amount, it is more manageable.’

Why do you want to avoid high student debt?

‘When you have a high student debt, it's another something you have to deal with, it becomes something you can be very bothered with. If the amount is reasonably manageable, it is easer to make a plan on how to pay off your student debt once you finish your studies.  If I had 50.000 euros of student debt, I would really be panicking how to pay that off.’

How did you hadle money as a student?

Lisa (graduate): ‘As a student, I always had a part-time job. Besides my studies, I worked 16 to 20 hours a week. Besides this income, I also borrowed. I was keen to keep my student debt as low as possible, so I only borrowed what I really needed. After all, the money I earned from my part-time job was not enough to pay for my studies, rent and everything else. I wanted to keep my student debt as low as possible, because you have to pay off a debt at some point. As a student, I always invested part of the money I earned. I did not invest the money I borrowed,  I think you should only use borrowed money for things you really need.’

Do you handle your finances differently now than when you were a student?

‘I feel I have more freedom now. I earn all the money I get myself. There is not a piece of borrowed money anymore. I am conscious about my finances, though, so I have made a division of what percentage of my salary I save, for example. I don't end up transferring money from my savings account to my checking account.’

How do you view paying off your student debt?

‘I've always had the attitude that I borrow out of necessity, it has to be paid off sometime. You can't do very much about that. When I just graduated, I did take a quick look at my student debt. This is because the interest rate has been raised and it might be interesting to start paying off earlier. I don't have to start paying until 2025, so for now I'm not really concerned with my student debt. From my salary, I save a part anyway because I think it is important. Part of this saved amount goes into a special pot intended for paying off my study debt.’

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