Students with no income: ‘How will I pay my rent?’
Italian Sari Mangia Woods (27) works approximately sixty hours a month as a bartender at Lust, a café in the Oude Kijk in ‘t Jatstraat. He needs every penny he makes to pay for his master in marine biology. On top of that, without a job, he doesn’t qualify for a loan from DUO. He only gets the money from them if he works at least 56 hours a month.
The coronavirus outbreak and forced shutdown of Lust last week have him seriously panicked. ‘How will I pay my rent? Or any of my other bills? I was looking at ways to cheat the system. To show DUO that I did work 56 hours even when I didn’t.’
DUO has good news for him as well as other international students. If they can prove that circumstances beyond their control means they can’t work or can work less, their loan will not be cancelled.’ ‘An employee letter that mentions the time period and the coronavirus as a reason is sufficient evidence’, a spokesperson said.
DUO’s promise will also help out Miruna Lucaci (27), who works customer service for a small webshop. She has a zero-hour contract. ‘They already told us they’re expecting a lighter workload. People might start shopping online more, but they probably won’t prioritise things that aren’t essential to their survival. I’m worried about the loss of income.’
The arts, media, and literary student had just reached a point in her life where she was financially independent from her parents. ‘I know my parents in Romania will have less money. That also worries me. I don’t want to be an extra burden if I can’t make it here financially.’
Dutch Lukas de Ruiter (26) combines his master in history with teaching coding classes at the Thorbecke Scholengemeenschap in Zwolle. Last Thursday, he watched prime minister Mark Rutte talk about how the schools would stay open. On Sunday, it was decided the schools would close after all, and De Ruiter had to stay home.
That didn’t mean he would just be able to teach his classes online. ‘I work at Lyceo, a private organisation the school has hired. It would probably be too expensive to convert the programme to online classes.’
For now, De Ruiter can subsist on the buffer he has. He has decided to cancel his planned trip to Iceland in the summer: ‘That’s got nothing to do with a fear of the virus, but everything with my income. I’m missing out on at least three weeks. That’s a couple of hundred euros.’
Time to study
Around him, other students are even more worried than he is. Lucaci also knows a lot of them who are concerned: ‘Students need their income. But even if they depend on their parents, it can affect their studies if they get into financial trouble.’
Mangia Woods is just trying to make the best of it. ‘With my DUO loan secured, I can finally spend the entire month working on my thesis without having to work 56 hours. I might have to spend less over the next few weeks, but I think I can make it work.’