Changes in a nutshell:

The maximum amount of aid increases:

  • Before August 1st 2017 – 852-938€
  • After August 1st 2017 – 1212€
  1. The study grants will be the same for everyone regardless of education level (Maximum 250,28 €/mo).
  2. Study loan amounts will be increased for all students.
  3. The maximum period for financial aid decreases for students starting after August 1st 2017.
  4. Students living in Finland will switch to the general housing allowance scheme.

Students switch to the general housing allowance scheme

There will be changes to financial aid for students starting August 1st 2017. Students will switch from the housing allowance in the student grant to the general housing allowance scheme. Kela will automatically end your current housing allowance and the general housing allowance can be applied for already from the end of May. Remember to leave your application well in time before the change. You can get the allowance retroactively for August if your application is at Kela by the end of September.

Take note that you have to apply for the general housing allowance yourself.

Persons sharing a household apply for a joint housing allowance. If a person belonging to the same household already receives general housing allowance, he must apply for a review for the allowance

Persons sharing a household:

  • Close relatives sharing a home (married and cohabiting couples, grandparents, parents and children)
  • Spouse or partner living elsewhere and under-age children
  • Persons renting a home under a joint rental agreement
  • Persons renting a home under separate rental agreements if collectively they pay rent for the entire home.
Persons not sharing a household:

  • Persons renting part of a home under separate rental agreements, if they are not close relatives and they are not collectively responsible for paying rent for the entire home
  • A tenant and a subtenant unless they are close relatives.

Amount of the general housing allowance

The gross income – that is, the income before any decreases or taxes – of people living in the same household affects the amount of the general housing allowance. The income of each person is taken into account either as an average income or as a continuous income.

Continuous income is used in the calculation, if the person’s income stays the same for 3 months. Average income is used, if the person’s income fluctuates and don’t stay the same for 3 months. The income for the next 12 months is taken into account when considering the average income.

An earnings deduction of 300€/mo is made from every person’s salary, income from self-employment or income from agriculture. That means that 300€ less will be taken into account when considering the allowance.

You can check the minimum amount of income after which your income no longer affects the housing allowance and the maximum amount of income after which you can no longer receive housing allowance from these tables.

The maximum limit for housing costs is affected by the size of the household and the location of the household. Check the table for maximum limits for housing costs about your own household and location.

General housing allowance: Checklist for students

  • Housing allowance is available to persons living in Finland. Foreigners may be eligible for housing allowance if they are covered by the Finnish social security system.
  • You must present a rental agreement to show that you are renting your home. Housing allowance is not available for those residing in a hotel, an institution or a place of temporary residence (such as emergency housing for students).
  • Housing allowance is paid out on the first business day of the month. It is paid into the bank account stated by the recipient in the application, or directly to the landlord.
  • Student status is not required to qualify for the housing allowance. While months of study and maximum time limits for receiving financial aid for students are not relevant for the housing allowance, study grant payments do count as income. The student loan does not count as income.
  • The housing allowance does not affect eligibility for student financial aid, and does not count as income for financial aid purposes.
  • Housing allowance is not available if you have access to free housing based on your student status. However, housing allowance may be granted if you cannot accept the free housing for a good reason. The accepted reasons are largely the same as those which apply to the housing supplement for students (see Student housing supplement and free dormitory accommodation).
  • If you are under 18 years of age and live independently (i.e., not with your parents), you can be paid general housing allowance if you have earned income or if you receive financial aid for students or some other social benefit. First apply for financial aid for students. If you are awarded a study grant or a government guarantee for a student loan, you can claim housing allowance. Kela will not check whether you actually take out a student loan.
  • If you, your spouse or partner, or other family members live in separate homes because of studies, you can get housing allowance for only one of those homes. You must choose which home you wish to claim general housing allowance for.
  • If you are renting from your parents or if the rental home you live in is owned by your parent, you can get housing allowance under the same terms as any other applicant.
  • If you are paid housing allowance you must tell Kela immediately of significant changes in your income, changes in the number of persons living in your household, and other changes relevant to the housing allowance.

Source: http://www.kela.fi/web/en/changes-to-student-financial-aid

Changes to financial aid for higher education students

The amount of study grant for higher education students will be adjusted to the same level as secondary education, so you can get a maximum of 250,28€/mo of study grant.

The maximum aid period is shortened by 2 months for new students. Likewise students who have already earned their first degree have their maximum aid period shortened to 54 months. The overall maximum aid period stays the same, so starting from August 1st 2014 it’s 64 months and before that it’s 70 months.

Changes to the student loans

Student loan amounts will increase from a monthly loan of 400€ to a monthly loan of 650€. If you’ve been given a student loan guarantee for your whole study time you will receve an automatic decision in July 2017 for your study loan for the academic year 2017-2018.

Changes to income reviews

The percentage increase applied to recovered aid is 7,5% starting from the financial aid year of 2016. The aid year of 2016 will be reviewed in February 2018. The percentage increase was earlier 15%.

If your annual income exceeds the maximum limit, cancel or return aid months from the end of 2017 when you don’t get the housing supplement and a smaller study grant. So don’t cancel aid months for the beginning of 2017.

Annual income limits will be increased in 2018, but the new limits won’t be known until the end of 2017.

The changes in financial aid overall

For most students their financial aid will increase overall, but it will be increasingly based on student loans.

The amount of aid can increase at most by 450€ or decrease at most by 40€. The student grant and housing allowance together make up 1175-1305€. Without the allowance the financial aid is 900€.

The student grant is 250,28€/mo. In addition you will be granted 650€/mo of student loan. Together these make up the financial aid of 900€/mo. Before switching to the general housing allowance scheme the overall aid was 850-940€/mo.

What do I need to remember to do?

Kela reviews current financial aids automatically. Most recipients of study grant will get a reviewed decision around the end of May or the beginning of June.

Apply for student grant if you aren’t receiving it yet.

Apply for the housing allowance starting 1st of August 2017 already by the end of May, if you know your income, housing expenses and other housing circumstances.

Read more:

Changes to financial aid and housing assistance for students, 1 August 2017

If you have any questions contact us at edunvalvonta@metkaweb.fi!