Sickness and incapacity for work

If you fall ill and cannot study, you can take a sick leave. During the leave you can be paid a sickness allowance.

If you know that you will be ill for no more than two months you can receive student financial aid in the normal manner. A short period of illness does not make you ineligible for financial aid even if you make little academic progress during it. However, you may have to provide Kela details about the illness and your academic progress. For that, you will need a medical certificate.

If the length of your period of illness is not known or if you know that it will be longer than two months, you should claim sickness allowance. It is particularly important for higher education students not to use up eligibility months if they are not making academic progress.

You can claim sickness also for a sick leave lasting less than two months. This may be good idea especially during the summer break from school.

Taking a sick leave may increase the maximum time you can take to complete a degree and qualify for a student loan compensation or tax deduction. However this requires that you have been paid sickness allowance or a pension or compensation based on complete incapacity for work.

Financial aid and sickness allowance are not available at the same time

You cannot get student financial aid and sickness allowance at the same time. You can claim sickness allowance and continue to receive financial aid until Kela has granted you the sickness allowance. Kela will stop paying you financial aid automatically.

If you are paid sickness allowance for at least 18 days during the first month of payment, Kela will stop your financial aid from the beginning of the month and collect any overpaid financial aid from you. If you are paid sickness allowance for less than 18 days during the first month of payment, Kela will stop your financial aid from the beginning of the following month. If you are paid sickness allowance, Kela deducts any payments of study grant you receive for the same period of time from your sickness allowance.

Payment of the sickness allowance to your employer does not prevent you from getting financial aid for students.

When you are ready to resume full-time study, tell Kela about it. If your financial aid was terminated, you must file a new application.

Example

You are medically unfit for work and your period of incapacity begins on 2 November. Claim sickness allowance from the beginning of the period of incapacity. Kela grants you a sickness allowance starting from 15 November, that is after you have completed a waiting period. You are paid both financial aid and a sickness allowance during November. Kela deducts the study grant payments you received from your sickness allowance entitlement for the same period of time. Kela stops your financial aid with effect from 1 December because December is the first month in which you are paid sickness allowance for at least 18 calendar days.

When payment of the sickness allowance ends and you are ready to study full-time, apply for financial aid.

Studying during a sick leave

If you are paid a sickness allowance, you can begin to study a little while receiving the allowance. You can take on about 40% of the normal full-time study load. The maximum amounts you can study while on sick leave are as follows (the examples are not definitive and are provided as a guide only):

  • Higher education: 24 credits per academic year, 12 credits per term or 3 credits per month.
  • Vocational study: 24 credit points / 16 credit units per year, 12 credit points / 8 credit units per term or 3 credit points / 2 credit units per month. If the course of study is not calculated in credit points or credits, you can attend up to 10 hours of instruction per week.
  • Upper secondary schools: 10 courses per academic year, 5 courses per term or 1 course per month, or 1 matriculation test per term.

When you are ready to study full-time again, please tell Kela about it.

Amount of the sickness allowance

The amount of sickness allowance payable to students is based either on earnings or study grant income. If your sickness allowance would be less than the minimum rate of €27.86, you are paid the allowance at the minimum rate. You can estimate the amount of sickness allowance you can get with this calculator (in Finnish).

Before receiving sickness allowance, you must complete a waiting period. As a rule, the waiting period is the first day of illness plus the following nine working days.

Sickness allowance is paid for working days. Working days are the days from Monday to Saturday, not including mid-week holidays.

Additional information