Student loan compensation | Our Services | KelaSkip to content

Student loan compensation

If you take out a student loan while in higher education and you complete your degree within the target time, you may be eligible for a student loan compensation. It means that Kela pays back part of your student loan. The compensation is only available to higher education students who began their first course of study in higher education on or after 1 August 2014.

Use this calculator of student loan compensation (in Finnish) to estimate whether you qualify for a student loan compensation, what is the target time for completing your degree, and how large the compensation would be.

Links to the content of this page:

Eligibility for the student loan compensation

You are eligible for the student loan compensation if

  • you began your first course of higher education study on or after 1 August 2014 (i.e., your first year of attendance was 2014–2015 or later),
  • you complete your degree within the target time and
  • you have outstanding government-guaranteed student loan student debt totalling more than 2,500 euros.

Degrees which qualify you for a student loan compensation are:

  • bachelor's or master's level university degree
  • degree from a university of applied sciences

However, you get the compensation only for the first higher education degree you complete in Finland or abroad. However, if you earn a bachelor's degree in a university, you can decide for yourself  whether to apply for the compensation or whether to defer it until you have completed a master's degree.

You can be granted student loan compensation for a master's level degree attained at a university of applied sciences , but only if it is the first higher education degree that you attain.

You can get the compensation for the first degree you completed even if it is not the first one you started.

Example: Beginning multiple higher education studies

A student is accepted to a university of applied sciences. This is the first time she qualifies for higher education, and the study programme begins in the autumn of 2018. In autumn 2019 she is accepted to a traditional university. She discontinues her studies in the university of applied sciences and enrols in university. She is eligible for a student loan compensation for a 300-credit university degree, if she graduates in six years (i.e., by 31 July 2024). The period of study is calculated from 1 August 2018, which is the beginning of the term in which the student gains her first right to study.

Student loan compensation is only available for the first higher education degree you complete. For example, if the first degree you complete is from a university of applied sciences, your student loan compensation is based on that degree. Even if you do not take out a student loan for your studies at the university of applied sciences, you cannot get a student loan compensation for a university degree completed after it.

Most graduates receive a written decision on the student loan compensation automatically.

However, if you want to get the compensation for a bachelor's degree earned in a university, you must apply for it within two years of completing the degree. Read more, how you can apply for a student loan compensation for a bachelor's degree.

If you earn a university degree outside Finland, you should tell Kela about it within two years.

You must complete your degree within a target time

To qualify for the student loan compensation, you must complete your degree within a specified target time. The target time depends on the degree you are completing.

Kela considers your period of study to begin at the beginning of the term when you are first accepted to any higher education institution. The studies are considered to have started

  • on 1 January if you are first admitted to a programme that begins in the spring term (1 January-31 July)
  • on 1 August if you are first admitted to a programme that begins in the autumn term (1 August-31 December).

The period of study ends on the last day of the term in which you complete a degree. The studies are considered to have ended

  • on 31 July if you graduate in the spring term (1 January-31 July)
  • on 31 December if you graduate in the autumn term (1 August-31 December).

The period of study also includes terms in which you register as non-attending or interrupt your studies.

If you accepted a place of study before 1 August 2014, but did not register as attending until or after 1 August 2014, your period of study is considered to begin on 1 August 2014.

If you complete a degree at a foreign institution of higher education, the target time for completing the degree in respect of the student loan compensation is determined differently than when completing a degree at a Finnish institution of higher education. In this case, the target time is determined on the basis of the extent of the study programme or the regular degree completion time.

The regular degree completion time is determined on the basis of the target time for full-time study. If the target time for a master's degree, i.e. the regular degree completion time, is 5 academic years, the time limit in respect of the student loan compensation is 6 academic years.

Bachelor's + master's level university degrees or master's level university degree exclusively: target time = standard time to degree + max. one academic year
Extent of the degree programmeTarget time
300 credits6 academic years
330 credits6.5 academic years
360 credits7 academic years

If you complete a master's level university degree exclusively, the target time depends on the combined extent of the bachelor's and master's programmes.

Example: Master’s level university degree exclusively

A student completes a master’s degree consisting of 120 credits. The target time for the student loan compensation is calculated by adding to it the extent of the bachelor's programme (usually 180 credits). The total extent of the degree programme is 120 cr + 180 cr = 300 credits. The target time is 6 academic years. The target time is counted from the beginning of the term in which the student was accepted to any institution of higher education.

Degree earned in a university of applied sciences or bachelor's level university degree: target time = standard time to degree + max. one term (= 0.5 academic years)
Extent of the degree programmeTarget time
180 credits3.5 academic years
210 credits4 academic years
240 credits4.5 academic years
270 credits5 academic years

Example of absence of one academic year

A student is accepted to a university of applied sciences. This is the first time she qualifies for higher education, and the study programme begins in the autumn of 2019. She registers as non-attending (absent) for the academic year 2019-2020. She completes a 210-credit university of applied sciences degree on 20 December 2023. The degree completion time taken into account for purposes of the student loan compensation is 1 August 2019 - 31 December 2023, or 4.5 academic years. She does not qualify for a student loan compensation. The academic year 2019-2020 during which the student was non-attending also counts towards the degree completion time.

Extension of the target time

If you do not complete a degree within the target time, you may still be eligible for a student loan compensation if there is an acceptable reason for your failing to meet academic progress requirements. Such acceptable reasons are

Example of period of study that entitles to student loan compensation

A student completes a 240-credit degree at a university of applied sciences. If the student completes the degree in 4.5 academic years, he or she is entitled to a student loan compensation. If the student did not accept the place of study until the spring of 2019, any justifiable reasons for extending the target time will be taken into account only for the period 1 January 2019 to 31 July 2023. The period after 31 July 2023 is not considered.

Example of extension of period of study that entitles to student loan compensation

A student is completing a 300-credit bachelor's degree at a university. If the student completes the degree in 6 academic years, he or she is entitled to a student loan compensation. If the student accepted the place of study in autumn 2016, any justifiable reasons for extending the target time will be taken into account only for the period 1 August 2016 to 31 July 2022.

The student is performing conscript service in autumn 2016 and spring 2017 with the result that the target time for qualifying for a student loan compensation can be extended by one academic year. The degree must be completed by 31 July 2023.

The student falls ill during spring 2023 and receives sickness allowance payments for at least 30 days. The target time can be extended by 0.5 academic years. The student qualifies for a student loan compensation if she completes the degree by 31 December 2023.

A period of service or payment of an allowance lasting at least 30 days during a single academic term extends the target time by 0.5 academic years. Term dates are 1 January - 31 July and 1 August - 31 December. The target time cannot be extended by more than 0.5 academic years even if you have had several acceptable reasons during a single term.

If the period of service or payment of an allowance lasts at least 30 days, but not within any individual term, the target time can still be extended by 0.5 academic years.

Due to child care, the target time can be extended without any limitations, but only for the time you have received pregnancy allowance or maternity, paternity or parental allowance. For any other benefits or periods of service, the target time can usually be extended by a maximum of two academic years.

Due to martial law or some other comparable serious and exceptional circumstance in the country of study, the period in respect of which you can get student loan compensation can be extended by one academic year.

Have you completed a degree at a foreign higher education institution?

The target time to qualify for a student loan compensation can also be extended if your total degree completion time in a foreign institute of higher education was not more than three months too long because of one of the following reasons:

  • a delay in awarding the diploma due to something beyond your control, or
  • the fact that the term start and end dates differ from those applied in Finnish institutes of higher education.

However, you must have completed your studies within the target time required to qualify for a student loan compensation. This means that the compensation cannot be granted to you if the actual duration of your studies exceeded the target time, even if that was caused by your school rescheduling the start and end dates of the academic term and your having to wait longer to receive your diploma.

Provide information about your actual time of study, the reasons for the delay in the granting of the diploma and the start and end dates of the term. Provide the information in a request for review or an application for the student loan compensation OT30e (PDF).

Did the coronavirus epidemic delay your graduation?

If your graduation was delayed because of the coronavirus epidemic, it is possible to extend the target time to qualify for a student loan compensation.

If you did not graduate within the target time to qualify for student loan compensation, you will receive a negative decision proposal from Kela. If your graduation was delayed because of the coronavirus epidemic, submit a request to Kela to review the decision. In the request, explain how the coronavirus epidemic affected the completion of the study units required for the degree and thus delayed your studies. State in the request

  • what studies were affected by the delay and
  • how the coronavirus epidemic delayed your studies.

You can write the request in your own words. You do not need to enclose any certificates with your request. The reasons for a delay in your studies may for have to do with the study arrangements, with travel restrictions or other government recommendations, or with you or your family member's health or general life situation.

If you completed or will complete a higher education degree in or after 2021, and your graduation was delayed because of the epidemic, you can get an extension of 1 academic years to your target time to qualify for the student loan compensation.

If you wish to receive a student loan compensation on the basis of a bachelor’s level university degree that you completed, you will not receive decision automatically; instead you will have to apply for it. File your application for student loan compensation within 2 years of graduating. In such a case, state in your application for a student loan compensation form OT30e (PDF)) that your studies were delayed due to the coronavirus epidemic.

Did you postpone the start of your studies due to the coronavirus epidemic?

If you have had to start your first period of higher education study late because of the epidemic, that too may qualify you for an extension of the target time. Kela considers you to have started your studies as follows:

  • If you attend a Finnish institution of higher education and you have in preceding terms registered as non-attending due to the coronavirus epidemic, the period of study is considered to begin on the first day of the term in which you register as attending.
  • If you study in a foreign higher education institution and you postponed the start of your studies due to the coronavirus epidemic, your studies are considered to begin on the first day of the term during which you actually started your studies.

If you do not graduate within the target time to qualify for student loan compensation, you will receive a negative decision proposal from Kela. Request a review of the decision proposal, if you postponed the start of your studies due to the coronavirus epidemic. Indicate in the request for review the government order related to the coronavirus epidemic or another weighty reason related to the epidemic that led you to register as non-attending. If you studied at a foreign higher education institution, also indicate in your request for review when you in fact started studying.

If you wish to receive a student loan compensation on the basis of a bachelor’s level university degree that you completed, you will not receive decision automatically; instead you will have to apply for it. File your application for student loan compensation within 2 years of graduating. In such a case, state in your application for a student loan compensation form OT30e (PDF) that you postponed the start of your studies due to the coronavirus epidemic.

Martial law or other comparable serious and exceptional circumstance in the country of study

If you have been unable to complete all of the required studies within the prescribed time limit due to a state of martial law in the country of study, the period of study that entitles you to a student loan compensation can be extended by 1 academic year. The period can also be extended by 1 academic year if your graduation was delayed due to some other exceptional circumstance that is comparable to martial law as to its seriousness. Such circumstances include for instance mass casualty incidents or natural disasters, large-scale armed attacks or dangerous communicable diseases that have spread widely. The period can only be extended if the state of martial law or other circumstance affected your studies during the period of study in respect of which you can get student loan compensation.

If you receive a preliminary decision from Kela telling you that you are not granted a student loan compensation, you can request a review. State the following in the request for review:

  • what type of serious and exceptional circumstance affected your studies
  • in what way and for which time period the circumstance affected your studies
  • the studies required for the degree that had to be postponed due to martial law or some other such circumstance.

Requesting a review

If you exceed the target time, you will receive a preliminary decision Kela telling you that you are not granted a student loan compensation. If you have an acceptable reason for taking longer than the target time, you can ask Kela to review your case again. You must ask for a review within 30 days of the date on which you received the proposed decision. Detailed instructions are provided in the proposed decision and the document enclosed with it.

The request for a review must be made in writing, but there are no other formal requirements. You can make the request by sending a message in the OmaKela e-service. Please note that our e-service is only available in Finnish and Swedish. Alternatively, you can mail the request and any supporting documents to Kela, PL 10, 00056 KELA.

Do as follows:

  1. File a request for a review in the OmaKela e-service. Log in using your online bank credentials or a mobile ID.
  2. Go to Viestit (Messages). Under Aihe (Topic), select Opiskelijan asiat (Student matters) and then Opintotuki (Student financial aid). By selecting the topic accurately, you can help to speed up the processing of your case. You should not, for example, select ‘Liikamaksut ja perintäasiat’ (Overpayment and recovery) or ‘Muu asia’ (Other) as the topic of your message. Also do not select ‘Muutoksenhaku- tai valitusasia’ (Appeal or complaint).
  3. Scan or take a photo of any supporting documents and send them in the OmaKela e-service. You do not have to send documentation about benefits you may have received from Kela.

Kela will process your request for a review and give you a new decision. The new decision can be appealed to the Student Financial Aid Review Board.

Read more

Last modified 20/2/2024

What do you think of this page?