Students’ subsistence consists of the study grant and the general housing allowance. Besides these, students can take out government-guaranteed student loans.
The level of higher education students’ study grant was adjusted to that of secondary education students’ study grant on 1 August 2017. Students who are of age and live independently will now receive 250.28 euros per month of aid as study grant. The amount of study grant paid to the guardian of a minor child is higher, 325.28 euros per month of aid. The maximum number of months of student aid has been limited and split between bachelor’s and master’s-level degrees. The number of months of aid is dependent on when you started your studies. You can check the maximum periods of eligibility here.
Income limits of student aid or study grant and the monitoring of study progress
Students’ own income affects the number of months for which they can receive student aid. Monitoring your own income is advisable: if you exceed your income limit and do not return student aid, Kela will recover the overpaid months of student aid with a 7.5% interest. Further information on income limits is available on this page.
You can avoid the interest by checking your income limit and cancelling or returning student aid voluntarily. The deadline for 2017 returns was on 31 May 2018 and the deadline for 2018 returns is on 31 May 2019.
Kela annually monitors the study progress of those who receive student aid. If you have received student aid, you must earn 5 credits on average 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.
Starting from the monitoring of study progress in 2018, Kela is taking 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 previous higher education studies you have not completed, starting new studies no longer ‘resets’ the satisfactory study progress.
If you have not earned enough credits, you can cancel or return student aid. Months of student aid from the autumn term may be returned until the end of May the following year and months of aid from the spring term until the end of August.
Further information on the monitoring of study progress is available on Kela’s website.
Students moved under the system of general housing allowance on 1 August 2017. Exchange students are an exception to this: they will continue to apply for the housing supplement of the student aid for the duration of their studies abroad. This exception is caused by the fact that general housing allowance cannot be granted to people who live abroad. 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.
Check your rental agreement and income before applying for housing allowance.
Alone or together – household or not?
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 individual tenants are jointly responsible for the rent and/or things such as damages caused to the apartment. For instance, if one of the tenants neglects to pay their share of the rent or damages in the apartment, the other tenants must pay for them instead.
Under the clause on joint responsibility, people who live in the same apartment with separate rental agreements are also considered a single household.
The term ‘household’ is considered to include married and cohabiting couples as well as tenants who have a shared rental agreement or a clause on joint responsibility in their rental agreement. Close family members – with the exception of siblings who are of age – automatically belong to the same household.
People who live in the same apartment are generally considered to form one household, which means that the incomes of all members of the household affect the amount of housing allowance granted. Each household applies for the allowance together, and the allowance is paid to the account mentioned in the application.
However, separate rental agreements make it possible to clarify to Kela that the people living in the same apartment have separate households. People who live in the same apartment with separate rental agreements are also considered a single household if their rental agreements have a clause on joint responsibility.
If you live in the same apartment with one or more people but do not form a single household, contact your landlord well in advance before applying for housing allowance. The formulation of the rental agreement can be changed in such a way that the tenants would no longer be jointly responsible for rent. One possible way of clarifying the living arrangements to Kela is the apartment plan, showing both tenants’ own rooms, a description of separate household articles or a report on how the flatmates found their shared apartment. The most important thing is for the flatmates to have separate rental agreements or a sublease agreement.
The amount of general housing allowance is influenced by factors such as living 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. When receiving the allowance, you must inform Kela of any significant changes in your income yourself – this refers to your income either increasing by over 400 euros per month or decreasing by at least 200 euros per month compared to the estimated income in the previous decision on the housing allowance.
The housing allowance is also reviewed if the household’s housing costs change by at least €50 per month compared to the acceptable housing costs of the previous decision or if the household changes apartments. Changes in the number of household members or subleases also cause an interim review of the housing allowance. If no need for an interim review arises during the year, the recipient of the allowance must request an annual review of the housing allowance one month before the payment of the allowance ends.
Estimate your income and use Kela’s calculators.
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.
Further information on the housing allowance, calculating average income and changes in income can be found on Kela’s website.
The government guarantee in student loans is 650 euros per month of student aid. For studies abroad, the student loan can be up to 800 euros per month of aid.
The government guarantee for student loans is granted to higher education students based on the number of months of student aid. If you plan to take out a student loan, you should do so before voluntarily cancelling the academic year’s student aid. The bank checks the amount of the guarantee directly from Kela. Check out Kela’s website for how to apply for the student loan. Payment default entries no longer prevent students from receiving the government guarantee.
The interest payable on the loan and the repayment schedule are agreed between you and your bank. You can apply for the loan from your own bank or compare the options in different banks. When comparing options, we recommend paying attention to the margin asked by the bank.
Student loan compensation
If you complete your degree in target time, you may be eligible for a 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.
Student loan tax deduction
Those who started their studies in 2005–2014 can get a student loan tax deduction. You can find more information about it from Kela.
The primary benefit for students is student aid. However, students may also be entitled to basic social assistance. You can apply for social assistance 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 for the summer and cannot study anything that advances your degree and thus get student aid for the summer months, you can apply for social assistance for the summer. You apply for social assistance from Kela. Please note that Kela requires students to take out all the student loans for the academic year before applying for social assistance. Further information on social assistance for students here.
You can also seek help from the social services of your home city. They can grant supplementary and preventive social assistance and look for solutions to the situation together.
Kampin Ohjaamo (at Fredrikinkatu 48) can also help you find help that suits your situation.
Would you need any further advice, please contact our specialist Hannele Kirveskoski!