Student Financial Aid
Student financial aid is the primary source of income for students. Responsible for the aid is Ministry of Education and Culture and it is carried into effect by the Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela). From the student’s point of view, student financial aid is the facilitator of studies and from the state’s point of view it is often a means to achieve educational policy goals. Follow the information posted on the websites of AYY, Aalto University and Kela to stay up to date.
Student financial aid consists of three parts: study grants, housing supplements and government guarantees for student loans. The aid can be received for 55 months. The aid is not normally paid on summer months, but one can apply for aid for summer studies as well.
In order to receive student financial aid a student must achieve enough credits. The student is responsible for his/her own studies. If a student fails to meet this progression criteria, student financial aid can be discontinued.
International students are mainly ineligible for Kela’s financial aid for students. For more information on the terms, please go to Kela’s website.
The study grant is 298 euros a month. To receive it a student must fulfil the progression criteria and stay under the earnings limit.
The housing supplement covers 80 percent of housing costs up to a maximum of 252 euros a month.
Government Loan Guarantees
Student loans are granted by banks but guaranteed by the Finnish government. A student may receive a student loan for the same period of time as the student grant. The maximum amount of loan is 300 euros per month, although those who study abroad may receive more. For the most current sums, visit Kela’s website. The loan guarantee is received automatically when a student is approved for financial aid.
If a student has started studies in the academic year 2005-2006 or after, he/she might be eligible for a student loan tax deduction. To qualify for the deduction a student must have completed his/her degree in the target time and must have an outstanding loan amount of over 2 500 euros.
Earnings Limits and Working
A lot of students work, and it is often necessary to cover day-to-day living expenses. However, those students who work while receiving student financial aid need to keep an eye on their earnings. Kela monitors students’ income and if a student exceeds the earnings limit, Kela requires the student to pay back the financial aid received for the excess months. If you realize you’ve gone over the limit, you can pay the aid back voluntarily. If Kela has to prompt you to pay, a 15 percent interest will be added to the sum.
Especially new students should plan their own schedule from the point of view of their own well being. Studies take up a lot of time and adding work to the equation is not always easy. On the other hand, the work experience received during studies can be extremely useful when looking for work after graduation.
Students with Children
A studying parent is entitled to parental allowances and child home care allowance. However, two different benefits cannot be received simultaneously, so for example student financial aid and maternal allowance cannot be received at the same time. Income from work has a positive influence on maternity, paternity and parental allowances, because they are earnings-related benefits. For more information, turn to Kela.
The main services AYY can offer students with children are the family apartments for which families with children have priority.
General Housing Allowance
Students with children move automatically from receiving the student financial aid housing supplement to receiving general housing allowance. It is a very different benefit from the housing supplement, and students with a child on the way should find out beforehand how their benefits will change after the child is born. Basically, the maximum amount of money received is significantly higher with the general housing allowance than with the housing supplement, but the earnings limit is lower.
Social assistance is a need-based, last resort form of income security. One applies for social assistance from his/her home municipality’s social services office and in emergencies from the social services office of the municipality they are currently residents of. Social assistance consists of three parts: basic social assistance, which covers basic expenses, supplementary social assistance for additional expenses and preventive social assistance. AYY members should inquire about social assistance from their home municipalities, since there can be regional differences in granting the benefit.
Student Meal Subsidy
Student meal subsidy is a benefit for university students. The restaurants that offer the benefit are listed on Kela’s website. The maximum amount of meal subsidy is 1.67 euros per meal and it is received by showing a valid student ID card or Kela’s meal subsidy card. The maximum price of a subsidized meal, as well as the size of the subsidy itself, is decided by the Council of State. Changes to the meal subsidy are quite frequent, so following notices and announcements on relevant sources like this website is recommended.
AYY Furthers Your Cause
Aalto University Student Union stands up for students when it comes to student financial aid and subsistence issues. Student advocacy policies of AYY are finalized by the Representative Council. The latest policy paper on student financial aid was approved in a Council meeting in March 2010. AYY officials have pledged to uphold and advance the goals set in that policy paper on both local and national levels.
The four main goals set in the policy paper are: tying student financial aid to the index, enhancing the student loan system, preserving the housing supplement in its current form and bringing the appreciation of work experience into the student financial aid system. The policy paper can be read in full here.