The Netherlands, a popular country in Western Europe, is an excellent place to pursue higher education. It has some of the world’s top schools and universities, providing world-class education and attracting international students. Besides the academic institutions and the quality education, the country itself is a magnet due to its laid-back culture and high standard of living.

Its vibrant capital city, Amsterdam, is the first destination to wholly experience the Dutch culture. Cycling, taking a boat ride, and sight-seeing in Dutch museums and architecture can be very stress-relieving for students. Immersing in its food culture, with cheese, beer, and healthy snacks also make the top of the to-do list while in the country. Lastly, the Dutch countryside offers a tranquil trip through its stunning landscapes, with windmills and tulips as the distinguishing sights.

Contrary to popular belief, staying and studying in the Netherlands can be free for international students. Numerous universities in the country offer cheaper tuition costs compared to other schools in Europe. With some internet research, prospective students can even apply for scholarships, subsidies, and financial aid to pay for their education. At best, international students can study in the Netherlands for free. Paying less for education need not compromise the quality of education, as is the case in the Netherlands. Even more, international students have more money to spend in exploring the country and enjoying its numerous sights and activities.

In this article, we listed down some tips that you can do if you’re planning to study in the Netherlands for free. If you’re decided to study in this country, make sure to start your preparation early as possible. We hope that these tips will help you with your studies!

Can International Students Study in the Netherlands for Free?

International students can study in the Netherlands for free with the use of scholarships. Since the Netherlands doesn’t offer free tuition fees to foreign students, they will be required to pay the cost of their education. However, the tuition fees in the Netherlands are affordable. So, if you have a scholarship, your monetary award can cover the cost of your studies.

Additionally, please take note that more than tuition fees, you need to consider your accommodation, food, travel, and other expenses. To help you with this, you can search and apply for scholarships that cover certain expenses.

In the article below, we listed down some tips that you can consider if you want to study in the Netherlands for free! Make sure to read more!

How to Study in the Netherlands for Free

1. Be a Great Applicant for Universities in the Netherlands

Taking the next big step towards your academic goals can be both exhilarating and anxiety-inducing. It is exciting in the sense that a whole new world of being independent and autonomous awaits you. At the same time, there is always that fear of the unknown, of what will happen when you finally take the leap. To prepare for your next education level, ensuring that your application is completed and submitted at the earliest time possible is a must, as this can help you stand out from other applicants.

The application itself is not something that you should accomplish during your last year of preceding education. As soon as you decided to pursue a higher level of education, your academic performance should already be at a promising level in order to study in the Netherlands for  free. In this case, study hard to maintain your outstanding grades and performance. Gain as much extracurricular experience and academic club participation as you can. Also, being a model citizen by abiding by laws and staying away from deviances is good preparation for living abroad.

When it is time for you to submit your application, keep in mind that you should highlight your achievements such as your GPA, test scores, and academic awards. Also, emphasizing your strengths acquired through participation in various school and community organizations can increase your chances of being accepted.

2. Receive Scholarships in the Netherlands

With the rising costs of higher education, it is more practical to consider applying for Dutch scholarships instead of solely relying on student loans. Since many scholarship programs require outstanding school performance and maintaining good grades, studying for free in the Netherlands through a scholarship can help you both financially and academically, and later on, professionally. As you study hard to maintain your scholarship, you also build productive behaviors, skill competencies, and winning habits, which you will later utilize in your career.

In the Netherlands, students can apply for as many scholarships as they can. It is highly recommended to take your chances in two or more scholarship programs. As a classic marketing line says, “More entries, more chances of winning.” Just make sure to apply for those you meet the qualifications for and ensure that your application stands out.

3. Attend Cheap Universities in the Netherlands for International Students

Besides applying for scholarships, which can be challenging due to the number of applicants for limited slots, applying to affordable universities can help you achieve your academic dreams without putting so much strain on your wallet. Despite the rising demands for universities to provide high-quality education, students are still fortunate to have many affordable options in the Netherlands without getting the quality and experience compromised.

Despite the small area, the Netherlands is home to many schools and universities that offer affordable education, much to international students’ luck. It has relatively cheaper tuition costs, compared to other European Union countries. International students are expected to spend around EUR1,900 to EUR15,000 and even less if you apply for subsidies or partial scholarships. Check some of the cheap universities in the Netherlands for international students!

Check Also: Available Programs in Europe for International Students

Study Undergraduate in the Netherlands for Free

When it comes to affordable higher education, the Netherlands pretty much has it all. International students can start their undergraduate studies for free in the Netherlands by getting some scholarships. Among the list of options is the Utrecht University Scholarships for International Students provided by the Utrecht University and its alumni. While not all programs may be covered by the scholarship, international students have the option to choose from Economics and Business Economics, Philosophy, Politics, and Global Sustainability Science Programs to apply for the scholarship.

Another scholarship provider worth considering is the University of Twente Holland Scholarship. The Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science along with Dutch research universities finance this scholarship, and its website lists the selected Bachelor programs covered by the scholarship.

The Han University Scholarships target international students from countries outside the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA). These scholarships include the HAN Holland Scholarship and an Honors Scholarship for students who didn’t get a scholarship in their 1st year of studies.

Meanwhile, the University of Amsterdam also offers the Amsterdam Merit Scholarship for incoming undergraduate, and even graduate, students from outside Europe. Accepted students need to maintain satisfactory study progress for the scholarship to continue in their subsequent years. These are just some of the scholarships for undergraduate students to study in the Netherlands for free.

Study Master’s in the Netherlands for Free

The Netherlands also caters to prospective graduate students, looking to lessen tuition costs through scholarships and subsidies. The Radboud University Scholarship Program attracts highly motivated and talented students from outside the EEA to complete an English-taught Master’s degree program at Radboud University. Its full scholarship covers both the tuition costs and the living costs, as well as costs for a visa, residence permit, and health and liability insurance while staying in the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, the Eric Bleumink Scholarships at the University of Groningen offer scholarships for students from selected countries who have outstanding academic performance. Besides the tuition costs, it covers the costs of international travel, books, subsistence, and health insurance.

The Justus and Louise Van Effen Scholarship at the Delft University of Technology include full tuition fees per year for qualified students, as well as a contribution for living expenses. In addition, the scholarship provides students membership to scholarship clubs, giving access to personal development seminars, workshops, and activities. Looking through these options, studying Master’s in the Netherlands for free is certainly not an impossible dream.

Study Ph.D. in the Netherlands for Free

The Ph.D. students in the Netherlands are typically employed as researchers at the university where they also study. However, students might still find themselves struggling to finance their research and studies. Fortunately, students have access to financing options and scholarships. The Erasmus University Rotterdam already covers the finances of their Ph.D. students.

However, if the students need additional funding for their research, they can send grant proposals through the university to other funding categories, such as the government, industrial organizations, or private companies.

The Ph.D. students at the University of Amsterdam are also employed as doctoral researchers thus need not worry about tuition costs. Like the Erasmus University Rotterdam, the university assists students in finding additional funding for their fieldwork abroad. The university also went the extra mile by offering grants for doctoral graduates to pursue their academic careers. For international students in the Netherlands, getting accepted for a Ph.D. program means studying for free and getting additional support to widen their academic and career horizons.


I hope that this article on how to study in the Netherlands for free was helpful. Make sure to also check out the Available Programs in Europe!