NOTE! These instructions only apply to those students who are covered by the Finnish social security system.
As a student, your subsistence usually consists of the study grant and general housing allowance. In addition to these, you can take out a government-guaranteed student loan. During difficult times, you can turn to sickness allowance or basic social assistance. If needed, you can also contact HYY’s specialists – we are here for you!
Students who are of age and live independently receive a study grant of about 250 euros per month of aid. Student aid is usually paid for 9 months in a year, but if you study during the summer, you can apply for student aid for the summer months too. If you are the guardian of a minor child, your study grant is slightly higher, circa 350 euros. The number of children you have or where they live does not affect the level of the study grant.
The study grant is subject to taxation. Kela used to automatically deduct withholding tax from the study grant, but this changed at the beginning of 2019. If you have other income besides the study grant, remember to take the study grant into account in taxation. In practice, you should check that your study grant and other income do not exceed the income limit specified on your tax card. If needed, order a new tax card.
The Incomes Register is a database containing your up-to-date income information from 1 January 2019 onwards. You can check your earned income as well as the taxes and fees deducted from it through the service. The Incomes Register helps you monitor your own income and the income limits of student aid, for instance.
The available number of months of student aid is limited, and the months have been split between bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The number of months of aid at your disposal depends on when you started your studies. You can check the maximum periods of eligibility here. If needed, you can apply for an extension to your student aid in case your study progress was slowed down by a particularly good reason. If you are applying for an extension for completing a bachelor’s degree, the additional months of aid will not be deducted from the months of aid reserved for your master’s degree.
Kela annually monitors the study progress of students who receive student aid. If you have received student aid, you must earn an average of 5 credits for each month of student aid and always at least 20 credits in total during the academic year. The minimum requirement of 20 credits is in effect even if you have received student aid for just one month. Kela does not monitor completed courses for individual months, which means that the decisive factor is the total number of credits accumulated throughout the year. Completing a degree always means that your study progress has been sufficient – in this case, you do not need to worry about whether you have enough credits.
When monitoring study progress, Kela takes into account all credits earned and months of student aid used in higher education studies starting from 1 August 2011 at the earliest. In other words, if you have started higher education studies that were different than your current studies after this date, Kela will take them into account when monitoring study progress. Previously, failing to complete your studies reset the situation, but this changed in 2018. Further information on the monitoring of study progress is available on Kela’s website.
The government guarantee in student loans is 650 euros per month of student aid, or up to 800 euros per month of aid for studies abroad. You can take out the student loan according to the number of months of aid you use, which usually translates to 9 months per year. If you receive student aid in the summer, you can also take out the loan then.
Your bank gets your information directly from Kela, but you need to apply for the loan from the bank yourself. You can apply for the loan from your own bank or compare the options offered by different banks. When comparing options, we recommend paying particular attention to the margin asked by the bank.
Student loan is not returned even when you return your study grant voluntarily. The loan is paid back after graduation. If you wish to take out a student loan but cancel the months of student aid to save them, you should first take out the loan and then cancel the desired months of aid afterwards.
Agree on the interest payable on the loan and the repayment schedule with the bank. Repayment usually begins two years after graduation. If you have problems with repayment, contact your bank well in advance. People with low income can also apply for Kela’s interest assistance for paying the interests of the loan.
If you complete your degree in target time, you may be eligible for Kela’s student loan compensation. It is only available for your first degree. When you have completed your bachelor’s degree, you should consider whether you believe you will complete your master’s degree in target time, too, and whether you should finance some of your master’s studies with the student loan or use the compensation earlier. Use Kela’s calculators to help you with the decision.
Those who started their studies in 2005–2014 can get a student loan tax deduction. When you start paying back your student loan, you pay less tax.
Payment default entries no longer prevent you from receiving the government guarantee, but the bank may still decide not to grant the guarantee because of the entry.
You can study 40% of the recommend study progress when you receive sickness allowance. This means that you can earn three credits per month, 12 credits per term and 24 credits per academic year. You can receive sickness allowance for 300 weekdays (about one year). Kela recommends that if you are ill for more than two months, you apply for sickness allowance.
You can apply for general housing allowance as soon as you have got an apartment. If you do not have an apartment yet, check out the tips in our housing guide!
People who live in the same apartment are generally considered to form a household. This means that the incomes of all members of the household affect the amount of housing allowance granted. Shared households apply for the allowance together, and the allowance is paid to the account mentioned in the application. Married and cohabiting couples are considered to form a single household as are tenants who have a shared rental agreement or a clause on joint responsibility in their rental agreement. Close family members who live together always belong to the same household.
Check your rental agreement and income before applying for housing allowance. Separate rental agreements are contracts for a rented room or section of an apartment made personally and separately by each person living in the apartment. However, even separate rental agreements may have a so-called clause on joint responsibility. This means that the tenants are jointly responsible for rent. Under the clause on joint responsibility, people who live in the same apartment with separate rental agreements are also considered a single household.
If you live in a shared apartment and the tenants do not belong to the same household, ask your landlord about the possibility of making separate rental agreements. Unfortunately, all landlords will not agree to do this. Possible ways of clarifying the living arrangements to Kela include the apartment plan, showing the tenants’ separate rooms, a description of separate household articles and a report on how the roomies found their shared apartment. The most important thing is for the roomies to have separate rental agreements or a sublease agreement.
The amount of housing allowance is influenced by housing costs and the household’s gross income. When applying for housing allowance, the income is taken into account as either regular or average income. If your income does not remain the same for at least 3 months, the amount of allowance you are granted will be based on the average of your estimated income over the next 12 months.
You must inform Kela of any significant changes in your income yourself. You must inform Kela if your income increases by over 400 euros per month or decreases by at least 200 euros per month compared to the estimated income in your previous decision on housing allowance. In practice, this is done by requesting a review of your housing allowance.
You also need to request a review of the housing allowance, if your household’s housing costs change by at least €50 per month compared to the acceptable housing costs of the previous decision or if your household changes apartments. Requesting an interim review is also required in case of changes in the number of household members or sublease situation.
If none of the things mentioned above change during the year and no need for an interim review arises, the recipient of the allowance must request an annual review of the housing allowance one month before the payment of the allowance ends. Kela will send you a reminder of this, but you must apply for the review yourself. Do it well in advance to avoid the payment of the housing allowance being suspended! If you forget about it, however, you can receive the housing allowance retroactively for one month.
General housing allowance is not linked to months of student aid. You can apply for it for every month of the year – even when you are not entitled to receive student aid. The amount of general housing allowance is determined by either your regular income or your estimated income over the next 12 months. If you are returning months of student aid, you do not need to return general housing allowance for the months in question. Months for which you receive general housing allowance but no student aid do not affect the monitoring of study progress.
Almost all students moved under the system of general housing allowance in August 2017. When going on exchange abroad, however, you should apply for the housing supplement of the student aid. This is because general housing allowance is only paid for apartments in Finland. If you go on exchange during your studies, remember to apply for the housing supplement of the student aid for the duration of your exchange.
Students are entitled to apply for basic social assistance. You can apply for it if you are not entitled to student aid or have used up all your months of student aid. In case you cannot find a job or any relevant studies for the summer, you can apply for basic social assistance from Kela. Preventive and supplementary social assistance is applied for from the social services of your home municipality. Unfortunately, you must take out all the student loans for the academic year before you can apply for social assistance.
No, if you have been awarded financial aid for the entire duration of your studies. Your study grant decision will show the length of your entitlement to student aid. However, you need to apply for student loan from your bank each year.
Your annual income limit depends on the number of your study grant months per calendar year. Taxable gross earnings, scholarships and foreign income are considered as income. You are allowed to exceed your yearly limit by 232 euros. Otherwise you must pay some of your study grant back to Kela.
The income you have earned before or after your studies is not taken into account in the annual income limit. Nonetheless, it is possible for you to receive a preliminary decision about paying back your study grant if you exceed the annual income limit in your first year of studies or the year of graduation. Kela does not know when you have earned your income. You can avoid the need to pay back student aid by requesting a review.
You can apply for student aid for the summer if you study in the summer. Summertime student aid consists of the study grant and the government guarantee for student loans. Remember that summer studies use up months of student aid and affect the income limits of student aid. Read more.
Payment of the general housing allowance continues in the summer, too. However, remember to check the amount of your grant if your income or expenses change for the summer. Kela recommends a review if your income increases by over 400 euros or decreases by at least 200 euros per month.
You may also receive a letter about the annual review of general housing allowance during the summer. The review is done around one year after the allowance was granted or the last review took place. You must request the review yourself either through Kela’s online customer service or by filling in a paper form. If you do not return the request for a review in time, your housing allowance will be discontinued. Read more.
If you cannot study in the summer and have not got a summer job, you can apply for basic social assistance. However, you must prove that you have applied for jobs and that studying in the summer is not possible. Student loan is also considered as income.
Note! Due to the exceptional situation caused by the coronavirus crisis, these requirements have changed for the summer of 2020. You can read more about it here.
No, you do not need to. Kela receives the information of you being a guardian from the population information system. Payment of the supplement starts at the beginning of the month following the start of your guardianship at the earliest.
Do you constantly have to explain to your relatives and strangers how student aid today differs from the time when they were students? No worries – just show them the student simulator! The game was originally used in our advocacy work at SuomiAreena and before the parliamentary elections.