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Have you started studies or graduated?

In the income check, the total annual income (1 January – 31 December) of every receiver of student financial aid is compared to his or her annual income limit. If your income does not exceed your annual income limit, Kela does not send you a preliminary decision concerning the recovery of financial aid. If your income exceeds your annual income limit, you will receive a preliminary decision.

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When Kela monitors student incomes, Kela checks the income data in the taxation data and the national incomes register. However, the starting of the studies, graduation or the ending of the maximum period of financial aid cannot always be taken into account in the preliminary decision. You may thus receive a preliminary decision even if you have earned your income or part of your income at some other time than during your time of study. In this case it is a good idea to request a review and state when you were an active student and when you earned the income.

It is a good idea to request a review in the following situations:

  • You have begun a course of study in the middle of the calendar year and have earned your income or part of your income before that.
  • You have graduated in the middle of the calendar year and have earned your income or part of your income after graduating.
  • You have used up all of your eligibility for financial aid and you have earned your income or part of your income after the last month of financial aid.

Whether any income you have received is considered to have been earned while you were studying, or while you were not studying, depends on when you received the income. However, capital gains generally are considered income received on the date of sale. If you receive a return on funds withdrawn from an equity savings account, the date on which you received the income determines whether the returns are considered to have been earned while you were studying, or while you were not studying.

If you do not give details of the payment date, the income is regarded as having been received during the time of study. If it is not possible to establish the date when the income (e.g. income earned from self-employment) was paid to you, the income is averaged over the 12 months of the calendar year.

Keep the certificate of admission and the graduation certificate as well as the payslips for the year when you started your studies or the year when you completed them. Also keep evidence of any other income.

Kela receives information on your earnings from the national incomes register. You do not have to submit certificates on wages, compensations and benefits on which information is available from the national incomes register.

How is income earned during the first year of study and the graduation year taken into account in 2023 and 2024?

Of income received before the month when you started your studies, or after the month when you graduated, any amount exceeding on average 3,120 euros per month will not be taken into account in the income check.

This means that if your income for the entire calendar year exceeds the annual income limit, you must make sure that your income during the period of active study remains within the following parameters:

  • 1,040 euros × number of months of financial aid in the period of active study + 3,120 euros × number of months without financial aid in the period of active study (+ 348 euros)

If the income you have received during your time of study remains within these parameters, the income you receive before the month when you start your studies, or after the month when you finish, can be of any amount.

You can use this calculator (in Finnish) to estimate the outcome of the income check.

Example

A student graduated on 31 May 2023 and received financial aid from January to May for a total of five months. The student's annual income limit is 27,040 euros (= 5 × 1,040 euros + 7 × 3,120 euros).

The Tax Administration informs Kela that the student's total annual income is 34,500 euros, thus exceeding the annual income limit. The student receives a preliminary decision about the recovery of financial aid, according to which Kela will recover financial aid for four months.

The student then submits a request for a review enclosing evidence of income showing that he or she received 30,400 euros during the 7 months following the month of graduation (1 June to 31 December).

  • From the income received in the months after graduation, an amount exceeding on average 3,120 euros per month is deducted.
  • The deduction made from the income is consequently 8,560 euros (= 30,400 euros - 7 months × 3,120 euros per month).
  • After the deduction, the annual income which will be taken into account is 25,940 euros (= 34,500 euros - 8,560 euros).

The annual income to be taken into account is below the annual income limit and the student is therefore sent a decision according to which Kela will not recover any financial aid.

The student will not have to pay back financial aid, because the income (34,500 euros - 30,400 euros = 4,100 euros) that the student received during his or her time of study (1 January to 31 May) is within the limit calculated using the formula ”1,040 euros × number of aid months during time of study + 3,120 euros × number of aid-free months during time of study”. The student's allowable income during the time of study from 1 January to 31 May is 5,200 euros (= 5 × 1,040 euros).

How is income earned during the first year of study and the graduation year taken into account in 2022?

Of income received before the month when you started your studies, or after the month when you graduated, any amount exceeding on average 2,600 euros per month will not be taken into account in the income check.

This means that if your income for the entire calendar year exceeds the annual income limit, you must make sure that your income during the period of active study remains within the following parameters:

  • 870 euros × number of months of financial aid in the period of active study + 2,600 euros × number of months without financial aid in the period of active study (+ 290 euros)

If the income you have received during your time of study remains within these parameters, the income you receive before the month when you start your studies, or after the month when you finish, can be of any amount.

You can use this calculator (in Finnish) to estimate the outcome of the income check.

Example

A student graduated on 31 May 2022 and received financial aid from January to May for a total of five months. The student's annual income limit is 22,550 euros (= 5 × 870 euros + 7 × 2,600 euros).

The Tax Administration informs Kela that the student's total annual income is 28,500 euros, thus exceeding the annual income limit. The student receives a preliminary decision about the recovery of financial aid, according to which Kela will recover financial aid for four months.

The student then submits a request for a review enclosing evidence of income showing that he or she received 25,000 euros during the 7 months following the month of graduation (1 June to 31 December).

  • From the income received in the months after graduation, an amount exceeding on average 2,600 euros per month is deducted.
  • The deduction made from the income is consequently 6,800 euros (= 25,000 euros - 7 months × 2,600 euros per month).
  • After the deduction, the annual income which will be taken into account is 21,700 euros (= 28,500 euros - 6,800 euros).

The annual income to be taken into account is below the annual income limit and the student is therefore sent a decision according to which Kela will not recover any financial aid.

The student will not have to pay back financial aid, because the income (28,500 euros - 25,000 euros = 3,500 euros) that the student received during his or her time of study (1 January to 31 May) is within the limit calculated using the formula ”870 euros × number of aid months during time of study + 2,600 euros × number of aid-free months during time of study”. The student's allowable income during the time of study from 1 January to 31 May is 4,350 euros (= 5 × 870 euros).

What does 'start of studies' refer to?

The first month of study is the month starting from which Kela can award financial aid for the course of study in question. Therefore it may not always be the month starting from which you are paid financial aid. If, for example, you start your studies on 1 September, but you decide not to draw financial aid until November, you will, when your income is checked, be considered to have been a student as of September.

As regards higher education studies in Finland, the studies usually start in September for study programmes that start in the autumn. However, if you have claimed and been granted student financial aid starting from August, the studies start in August.

If the month when you start your studies is a month for which you are not entitled to financial aid and you are only entitled to aid as of the beginning of the following month, the month when you started your studies will not be considered time of study in the income check.

Example

The first day of study in the first year of the study programme is 20 August. Since August only has 12 days of active study (20–31 August), you are not entitled to financial aid for August. For the purposes of the income review in connection with the student financial aid, the studies start in September.

If you decide to postpone the start of your studies, you will, in the income check, be considered a student as of the date when you register as an attending student. If you start your studies at a later date than the other students on your course, because you did not get a study place in the first application round, the start date of your studies may, in the income check, be determined on the basis of your personal starting date.

If you pursue post-graduate or degree-oriented studies at a university, Kela will not consider you a student for purposes of the income check until the beginning of the month in which you first receive financial aid.

If you withdraw from a course of study and, in a subsequent year, begin a new course of study in another educational institution you will be considered

  • a student until the end of the year in which you withdrew
  • a new student during the first year of your new course of study. This does not apply to study in an upper secondary school.

What is meant by graduation?

For purposes of the income check, graduation means completing a degree or a course of study or using up the eligibility for financial aid. Your time of study ends in the month for which you would for the last time be able to draw financial aid for the studies in question. If the date when you completed your degree is a date on the basis of which you are not entitled to financial aid for that month, your graduation month is not included in your time of study.

If the date of completing a course of study or a degree falls on

  • the 1st to 17th day of the month, the month of graduation is the month preceding the completion of the degree
  • the 18th of the month or later, the month of graduation is the month of completing the degree.

In the income check, the graduation month is determined by the official date of completing a degree, that is, the date of your diploma. Even if you have completed all the studies required for your degree, you will, in the income check, not be regarded as having finished your studies and graduated until on the date that you received your diploma.

If you have been admitted to complete a degree and you only complete a part or parts of the degree, you are not considered as having graduated for purposes of the income check.

If you, in the student selection process, were accepted to study both for a bachelor's and a master's degree, completion of a bachelor's degree is not as a rule regarded as the end of your studies. However, if you do not go on to complete a master's degree, your studies may be regarded as having ended on your completion of the bachelor's degree. A prerequisite for this is that you have not registered as an attending student in the studies in question after the academic year in which you completed your bachelor's degree. A further requirement is that you have not drawn financial aid to complete a master's degree or earned any credits for the studies in question after having completed a bachelor's degree.

If Kela considers you to have ended your studies with the completion of a bachelor's degree, and if you later resume the same course of study, Kela does not regard the resumption of studies as equivalent to starting a whole new course of study. Consequently, your total income during the calendar year in which you continue the studies that you once discontinued will be taken into account.

If you are in a programme that is not oriented towards earning a degree, you are for purposes of the income check considered to have graduated when you have used up your financial aid eligibility or concluded the studies that made you eligible for financial aid. If the course of study follows a fixed schedule defined by the school, the date of graduation is the scheduled end date of the course of study. If you withdraw from your course of study before the scheduled end date, you will, for purposes of the income check, be considered to have dropped out of the course of study.

Discontinuation of studies

If you withdraw from a course of study or stop taking out financial aid, the entire calendar year is for purposes of the income check considered time of study. This is also the case if your studies end but you have not completed all work or finished a degree.

If you discontinue your studies and start a completely new course of study during the one and same calendar year, the entire year will be considered time of study when your income is checked.

If you begin a course of study after the year in which you discontinued your studies, you will, for purposes of the income check, be considered a student as follows:

  • If you start a course of study in another educational institution the year after you discontinued your studies, the months preceding the new studies are not considered time of study. This does not apply to study in an upper secondary school.
  • If you begin a new course of study in the same educational institution but in another line of study, the months preceding the new studies are not considered time of study.
  • If you resume the same course of study you left earlier in the same educational institution, the entire calendar year is considered time of study.

End of maximum period for which financial aid is available

If you have drawn financial aid for the maximum period of time for completion of your studies, this is considered comparable to graduation. The months after the end of the maximum aid period are not considered time of study when your income is checked.

If you voluntarily pay back financial aid after the end of the maximum aid period and you, after this, draw financial aid for old or new studies in the same calendar year, you will no longer be considered a graduated student when your income is checked.

The maximum aid period ends

  • when you have used up all months of financial aid (degree-oriented university study)
  • when you have completed so much of your study programme that the remaining studies no longer qualify you for financial aid (degree-oriented study at the secondary level)
    • In a 180-credit basic vocational qualification programme, the earliest that the maximum aid period can end is four years of study plus the following 12 months.
    • Starting from 2021, the maximum aid period for upper secondary school students incudes the fourth year of study.
  • when you have received financial aid for the maximum period for which it is available for that particular course of study (non-degree oriented study).

If you, in the student selection process, were accepted to study both for a bachelor’s and a master’s level degree, the maximum aid period taken into account in connection with the income check will not end until you have used up the total maximum period of financial aid for both the bachelor’s and the master’s degree.

If you use up the entire maximum period of financial aid and graduate at a later date in the same calendar year, your studies are, in the income check, regarded as having ended when the maximum period of aid for your course ended. If, for example, the maximum period of financial aid ends in April and you graduate in September, April is for purposes of the income check regarded as the month when you finished your studies.

If you have used up the maximum period of financial aid for your course of study and you have been granted an extension of the maximum aid period, you are considered to have finished your studies on the date that the extended fixed period of time that you were granted ends, or on the date of your graduation, should you graduate before the extended period of time has ended.

Several courses of study during the same year

If, after you have graduated, you start a new course of study in the same calendar year and you receive financial aid for both courses, the period of time between the two courses is not regarded as time of study when your income is checked. If, for example, your graduate on 31 May and you start a new course of study on 1 September, the period from June to August is not regarded as time of study.

If you pursue several different courses of study during one calendar year, only the studies for which you received financial aid during the year in question are taken into account.

Example

A student has drawn financial aid for university studies during the year of the income check, and the student graduates from a university of applied sciences on 31 May.

In the income check, however, he or she is regarded as a student during the entire calendar year, because he or she has not started or finished the studies for which he or she received financial aid. If the student had received financial aid only for his or her studies at the university of applied sciences, the period from June to December would not have been regarded as months of study.

Last modified 1/1/2024

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