Extension of compulsory education will affect student financial aid and school transport subsidies

The age of compulsory education will rise to 18 years in August 2021, and upper secondary education will become available free of charge. These changes will also impact the student benefits available from Kela.

Compulsory education will be extended at the beginning of August 2021. Upper secondary education will be free of charge to young persons who come within the scope of extended compulsory education. The extension of compulsory education means that young persons must, after leaving comprehensive school, enrol in upper secondary school or vocational education, or seek transition-phase education.

The extension of compulsory education and free upper secondary education will be introduced one age group at a time.

Young persons are entitled to free education if they meet both of the following requirements:

  • They left comprehensive school in 2021 or later.
  • They were born in 2004 or later.

Not all educational programmes are free even if the above requirements are met, so students should check with their school to find out if their education is free. 

Minor changes to student financial aid

Students entitled to free education cannot get the supplementary allowance for the purchase of study materials with their study grant payments, but are otherwise entitled to student financial aid like any other students. 

Students entitled to free education can also get financial aid for studies in an upper secondary school for adult students.

The school transport subsidy scheme will change starting from 1 August 2021, affecting all students

Starting 1 August 2021, students qualify for school transport subsidy if they travel between home and school on at least ten days in a given calendar month. The full subsidy is available if they make the trip on at least 15 days in a single calendar month. If they have 10–14 travel days, the subsidy is half the full amount.

This means that starting in August, students can qualify for school transport subsidy even if they do not travel to school every day. For example, students living with each parent in alternate weeks can get the subsidy if they only meet the requirements when living with one of the parents.

School transport subsidy: New eligibility criteria for students entitled to free education

Students entitled to free education can get school transport subsidy if their trip from home to school is at least seven kilometres. For students not entitled to free education, the travel distance from home to school must be at least 10 kilometres.

Students entitled to free education who take public transport or dedicated school transport usually do not have pay anything for their ticket. Kela pays the price of the ticket to the ticket office, the transport operator or to the students themselves. For example in the Greater Helsinki area, students buy the ticket themselves and Kela pays the school transport subsidy to them. Students not entitled to free education must pay a copayment linked to the number of travel days.

Students are eligible for the school transport subsidy if they are enrolled in any of the following studies: upper secondary school, studies leading to vocational qualifications (either the full course of study or part thereof), studies whose purpose is to prepare the student for upper secondary education, and basic education for adults.

Students entitled to free education can get school transport subsidy also if they

  • attend an upper secondary school for adults
  • study for a further vocational qualification
  • are enrolled in a liberal adult education programme.

Students not entitled to free education cannot get school transport subsidy for these studies.

Applications for school transport subsidy are made on the KM 1e form, which students submit to their school. It is not possible to apply online via Kela’s e-service OmaKela.

Additional information for customers