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Incoming students: financial aid (loans)

If you are looking for ways to fund your studies, there are some options available

American students who need financial aid to cover their study expenses can apply for one or both of the following loans:

  • Federal Loans offered by the U.S. Department of Education (ED)
  • Private Loans offered by SallieMae.

The Erasmus+ Master Loan is the EU’s programme which aims to support learning mobility.

Student loan programmes

  • Dutch student finance system

    At some point, most students in the Netherlands encounter the Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs, commonly known as DUO. This organisation is mostly known for providing students with student finance and the student travel product. Depending on residency status, course registration and age, international students can also get funding from DUO. You can find all the information about the requirements and the amounts on DUO’s website for international students.

    Other finance options can be found on the website Study in NL

  • Direct Loan Programme (financial aid for US students)

    The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) offers financial aid for eligible students from the U.S. to help cover the cost of higher education. Eligible students borrow directly from the ED at participating schools. 

    As a foreign school, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam has participated in the Direct Loan Program for several years and will continue its participation in the program as an eligible school for the academic year 2024-2025.

    How to apply for the Direct Loan

    To see how to apply for the Direct Loan during your studies with us please click here

    US Loans Guide

    For more information about US loans please have a look at the US Loans Guide. In this guide you can find detailed information on the following topics:

        - General information about direct loans
        - Applying for financial aid
        - Application procedures
        - Financial information
        - Procedures at VU Amsterdam
        - SAP, brief description
        - Exit counselling
        - In School Deferment Request
        - Refund policy
        - Alcohol and drugs

    Questionnaire VU Amsterdam

    To start the loan application, please fill out the questionnaire and mail the form to

    NB: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam does not receive any automatic messages from the United States telling us that you have applied or re-applied for a Direct Loan. If you would like to take out a loan, you therefore have to mail us the questionnaire after making your loan application in the FAFSA system. Only then can we start the origination process of the loan on our side.


    Deadlines for finalized applications 1st semester:

    • 1 August 2024 - Access to Financial Aid in September
    • 1 September 2024 - Access to Financial Aid in October
    • 1 November 2024 - Access to Financial Aid in December

    Deadlines for finalized applications 2nd semester:

    • 1 January 2025 - Access to Financial Aid in February
    • 1 February 2025 - Access to Financial Aid in March
    • 1 April 2025 - Access to Financial Aid in May

    Using your loan to pay for tuition fee
    If you take out a Federal Direct Loan, you should not pay tuition fee yourself, as the VU will deduct your tuition fee from your loan amount. To do so, you need to complete both your loan application and your enrolment with VU before 20 August.

    Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

    All students applying for or receiving US Federal Aid (subsidized, unsubsidized and PLUS) must progress satisfactory towards completion of the study programme at VU Amsterdam to remain eligible for federal financial aid. You can find detailed information in the SAP document.


    If you have taken out loans and are considering withdrawing from your program, it may happen that you will have to return (a portion) of the funds. As such, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss the details. For more information on the Return of Title IV Funds (R2T4) policy please click here. Additional information regarding our refund policy can be found here

    Other useful resources:

    Consumer information

    Student loan management, loan repayment and loan default


    VU Amsterdam
    International Office / US Loan Team
    De Boelelaan 1105
    NL-1081 HV Amsterdam

    For additional information on U.S. federal loans, please visit the Direct Loans website of the U.S. Department of Education.

  • SallieMae Smart Option Loan (financial aid for US students)

    SallieMae is a loan provider in the US, who offers private loans to US students to cover their costs for their study period abroad. Only students with the American nationality are eligible for this type of loan. The loan is meant to finance your stay at VU Amsterdam and could cover your tuition fee, room and board, etc.

    Eligible programmes

    All degree programmes offered at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (Bachelor, Master, LL.M, Research Master).

    Application procedure 

    Apply online for the loan: (our school code is: 008376-00).
    Once done, please email us at to let us know that you have applied for it.  
    For the details regarding the application procedure and payments of your SallieMae loan please have a look here


    Deadline for submitting the application for the study programme: 1 April
    Deadline for informing the International Office by email of application to SallieMae: 1 July (access to the loan at the beginning of academic year)

    Important notes

    • Please read the procedure of VU Amsterdam carefully.

    • SallieMae has the final decision on the approval/ denial of your loan application.
    • Students are always fully responsible for the repayment of their loans to SallieMae.
    • The loan period only covers for 1 year, which means that if you are participating in a study programme which takes longer than 1 academic year, you will have to submit a loan application for the following year.
    • Please note that we pay your SallieMae loan in two equal instalments: one in August and another one in December. We will email you the specific dates upon receiving your application. (For students requesting their loan later in the academic year, we arrange alternative payments dates). 
    • One of the requirements for being granted a residence permit in the Netherlands is that students must submit proof that they have sufficient financial means to finance their study period in the Netherlands. VU advises a budget, not including the tuition fee, of approx. €10,000 to €15,000 per year to cover the costs for rent, insurance, living expenses, course books and local transportation. How much money students actually spend will of course depend on their life style and spending habits.
    • Loan applications with SallieMae must not exceed 180 days between the application date and disbursement date. For example, if the first disbursement is scheduled for 1 October, do not apply for the SallieMae loan earlier than 1 May.
    • Whilst awaiting your loan, you need to arrange the payment of your tuition fee. Depending on your situation, you can either pay in one go or arrange payment in instalments (please see here for more information). Please note that payment in instalments is possible only if you have a bank account within the SEPA area. 


    The student is responsible for submitting a complete application, according to the steps described above before the aforementioned deadline. VU Amsterdam cannot be held responsible for late and/or incomplete applications.

  • Erasmus+ Master Loan

    The Erasmus+ Master Loan aims to support learning mobility, because studying abroad can be expensive– especially in countries with high living costs. The loan scheme is being established in cooperation with the European Investment Fund (Part of the EIB Group).

    For more information please click here.

Contact information

Feel free to reach out to us