Interest assistance means that Kela pays all of the interest due on your government-guaranteed student loan. There is no obligation to repay Kela for the interest.
You can get interest assistance if
- your income is less than a specified limit and
- your bank no longer adds the interest due to your loan principal but has begun to charge you interest.
As long as you receive financial aid payments, the bank will not charge you interest. Instead, the interest is capitalised, i.e., added to the principal amount of the loan. When you stop receiving financial aid, the bank will capitalise the interest for another term. After that it will begin to charge you interest.
For example, if you last received financial aid in spring 2017, your bank will continue to capitalise the interest on your student loan until December 2017, and will begin to charge you interest in June 2018.
If you have old student loans (granted in 1994 or earlier), you can qualify for interest assistance if you have not received financial aid payments during the 5 months preceding the interest due date.
If you are performing conscript service, Kela pays the interest on your student loan under the conscript's allowance scheme.
You cannot get interest assistance for loans which Kela has paid back to the lender bank under its loan guarantee liability and which Kela is collecting from you.
In order to qualify for interest assistance, your income must remain below a specific limit. The income limit is higher if you have dependent children of your own or if dependent children of your spouse or partner are living with you. The following income limits apply until the end of February 2020:
- no children: €1,350 per month
- one child: €1,559 per month
- two children: €1,616 per month
- three or more children: €1,712 per month
The income limits are raised every other year in line with the increase in wages and prices.
Interest assistance is affected by income earned in the 4 months preceding the interest due date. If you have had varying amounts of monthly income over that period, the amounts are averaged and the average amount may not exceed the income limit. Kela refers to gross income, i.e., income before taxes and deductions. For more information, see How to apply.
Interest assistance is affected by taxable income from earnings and capital. This includes for example
- wages and salaries
- self-employment income
- rental income
- capital gains
- child home care allowance payments
- labour market subsidy and unemployment allowances
- sickness allowance and maternity, paternity and parental allowances
- other welfare benefits which are subject to tax
- comparable income from abroad.
Tax-free grants or scholarships do not affect the income assistance. Other rules concerning the effect of income on interest assistance are the same as for financial aid for students.