Student financial aid comprises the study grant and government guarantee for student loans. Students renting an apartment in Finland can also claim general housing allowance (see section General housing allowance). The purpose of the aid is to secure students’ income during their studies. In order to qualify for student financial aid, you must be a full-time student, you need to make progress in your studies and you must be in need of financial support. Always remember to check your eligibility for student financial aid directly from Kela– your fellow student’s situation may differ from yours.
- Study grant is a state-subsidised benefit paid monthly. Study grant is considered taxable income. The amount of the study grant depends on what type of school you attend, your age, whether you live independently or with your parents, whether you are married and whether you have children. The study grant payable to a student who is living independently and doesn’t have any children is €252.76 as of 1 August 2020.
- The student loan is a government-guaranteed loan that you must pay back. If Kela gives you a loan guarantee you can apply for a loan at a bank of your choice. The interest payable on the loan and the repayment schedule are agreed between you and the bank. The maximum amount of student loan granted is €650/month and €800/month for studying abroad. You do not have to use the loan guarantee if you don’t need it. It is advisable that the student asks for offers for a student loan from different banks, because the loan conditions between the banks may vary. It is important to read the loan conditions carefully.
- Any changes to your circumstances after you have filed your student financial aid application must be reported to Kela without delay. The easiest way to report the changes is online via the e-services on Kela’s website (www.kela.fi/web/en/students). Any extra or groundless benefits will be reclaimed.
- The number of months you are eligible to receive student financial aid depends on the extent of the degree you are studying towards and on when you began your first course of higher education studies.
- Student financial aid will be first granted for your Bachelor’s degree, based on its extent. Once you have completed your Bachelor’s degree, you will be granted the number of financial aid months that are left from the maximum number of months for the completion of your Master's degree.
- University students who study full time during the summer and complete studies towards their degree can upon separate application be granted financial aid for the months of June, July and August. Please note that financial aid received during the summer months will count towards the maximum number of months granted. You can apply for financial aid for the summer months online at Kela’s e-services page or by filling in a “notification of change” form.
- If you get ill during your studies, you can go on sick leave. During the leave you can be paid sickness allowance instead of the student financial aid. More information: www.kela.fi/ web/en/eligibility-sickness.
NOTE: Student financial aid, like other social benefits in Finland, require Finnish citizenship. If you are not a Finnish citizen, you may still be entitled to student financial aid in Finland if:
- you are registered as a permanent resident in Finland in the population register system and
- your purpose of residence in Finland is something other than education (e.g. work, family ties or return migration). More information about financial aid for foreign students: https://www.kela.fi/web/en/financial-aid-for-students
In order to receive student financial aid, you must make progress in your studies. If you have not earned enough credits, you will be sent a request for clarification on insufficient progress of studies by Kela or Student Financial Aid Committee. Please reply to the request and state why you are falling behind with your studies. You can continue to get financial aid if your progress was slowed temporarily because of an acceptable reason. Such acceptable reasons are e.g. the illness of a close relative or an otherwise difficult life situation. Kela or Student Financial Aid Committee may also require that you complete a given amount of studies in a specified period of time.
Your financial aid will be discontinued if:
- you do not reply to the request, or
- if the reasons you stated in your reply are not deemed adequate.
The student financial aid may be recovered from you if you have completed a particularly small amount of credits or if it’s apparent that you have had no intention of completing studies. You can choose to cancel the aid or pay some of it back if you want your academic progress to be monitored during a shorter period of time. It’s best to cancel the aid if the academic year is still ongoing and your academic progress has slowed down. More information: www.kela.fi/web/en/study-progress-higher-education.
If you take out a student loan while in higher education and you complete your degree within the target time, you may be eligible for a student loan compensation. The student loan compensation means that Kela pays back part of your student loan. The compensation is only available to higher education students who began their first course of study in higher education on or after 1 August 2014. More information: www.kela.fi/web/en/student-loan-compensation.
Kela takes into account the income that you have earned during the year. Such income includes:
- wages and salaries
- taxable social security payments and financial aid for adult students
- rental income
- survivors’ pensions
- holiday pay and fringe benefits
- freelancers’ fees
- reservists’ fees.
In addition, grants and scholarships are considered income in the income supervision. However, grants and scholarships associated with international student exchange programmes are not taken into account. The study grant, housing allowance and student loan do not count as income.
Your annual income limit depends on how many months of student financial aid you have collected during the calendar year. Your income is not checked when your financial aid is paid, and therefore you must see to it yourself that it does not exceed the allowed limit. Your income will be checked once your taxation data has been completed. Any excess aid paid to you will be recovered in accordance with the Student Financial Aid Decree with a 7.5% interest. You can avoid this by voluntarily paying back the excess amount of student financial aid, which has to be done by the end of May in the year following the year you collected the aid. You can check your annual income limit and cancel or pay back overpaid aid on at www.kela.fi/web/en/income-own-income.
General housing allowance
Students renting an apartment in Finland can claim general housing allowance. The general housing allowance is granted to the household collectively. The housing allowance is determined by reference to the number of adults and children in the household, the municipality in which their home is located, and their monthly income before taxes.
A household can comprise:
- Close family members sharing a home (married or cohabiting spouses, parents, children, grandparents)
- A household member's spouse who lives elsewhere and children under the age of 18 years
- The persons having rented a home under a joint rental agreement
- Persons having rented a home under separate rental agreements, if the agreement or an appendix thereto specifies that they are jointly responsible for paying rent.
Not part of the same household are, for instance:
- Persons having rented a home under separate rental agreements, if they are not close family members or if the agreement or an appendix thereto does not state that they are jointly responsible for paying rent.
- Main tenant and subtenant, if they are not close family members.
Note: Kela considers all persons who have rented a home under a joint rental agreement to be of the same household. For this reason, when you are living in a shared apartment with flat mates, it’s advisable that everyone has their individual rental agreement so that the tenants aren’t considered to be of the same household when Kela calculates the household’s total income. In a shared apartment where all tenants have their own rooms and separate rental agreements, the tenants are not considered to be living in the same household and can each apply for housing allowance independently on their own.
You can check the amount of your housing allowance using the calculator at Kela’s website:www.kela.fi/laskuritWhen determining the amount of the housing allowance, the person’s income is taken into account in the calculations either as continuous income (regular monthly income) or average income (monthly average calculated based on the annual income, applies usually to students and freelancers). Study grant is counted as income when determining the amount of housing allowance, while student loan is not. Housing allowance is not taken into account in the income supervision. Housing allowance is also paid during summer months, even if you don’t complete studies during that time.
More information: https://www.kela.fi/web/en/general-housing-allowance.