34,800 proposals sent out for the repayment of overpaid student financial aid
Kela has sent out preliminary decisions for the recovery of overpaid student financial aid. In 2016, about 34,800 financial aid recipients, slightly more than in 2015, had income in excess of the annual income limit.
A total of 320,500 students received financial aid in 2016. According to Finnish Tax Administration information, 34,800 had income in excess of the maximum annual limit specified by the Act on Student Financial Aid. This was 11% of all financial aid recipients. Kela has sent out preliminary decisions on the recovery of overpaid financial aid to the affected students. The average amount being recovered per student is EUR 1,300. The total amount of financial aid proposed to be recovered under the preliminary decisions is EUR 45.4 million.
Last year Kela sent out repayment proposals to 34,100 students, while the total amount recovered was EUR 46.6 million.
The annual income limit varies according to the number of months for which a student takes out financial aid. Students who take out aid for nine months can have other income of up to EUR 11,850 per year. On average, financial aid recipients had EUR 7,970 in taxable income (not including financial aid) in 2016.
The income limits were raised by 1% at the beginning of 2018. The annual income limit is now EUR 11,973 for students who get financial aid for nine months. For students with 10 months of financial aid the limit is EUR 10,650. The new limits will apply in 2018 and 2019.
One-month deadline for submitting a review request
Kela sends out a repayment proposal to all students who exceed their income limit. It is a proposal because Kela does not know what portion of the income was earned during periods of active study. If the reason for exceeding the annual income limit is income earned not during periods of active study but for example after graduation, the overpayment debt may be reduced or wiped out completely.
Students can file a review request in which they should provide details of their studies and specify when the income was earned. The deadline for filing a review request is 22 March 2018. Students must provide details of their studies and when they earned their income if they started a course of study, graduated or used up their maximum financial aid entitlement during 2016. In previous years, about one quarter of those who were sent a repayment proposal were new or graduated students.
The preliminary decision contains instructions for how to file a review request or agree on repayment arrangements.
Students should keep track of their annual income so as not to exceed the income limit. Financial aid payments can be conveniently cancelled, returned or stopped via Kela’s online customer service at www.kela.fi/asiointi (Finnish) or www.fpa.fi/etjanst (Swedish). An online bank ID and password or a mobile ID is required to log in to the service.
A total of 27,100 students returned EUR 29.6 million in financial aid voluntarily for 2016. The deadline for returning financial aid voluntarily for 2017 is the end of May 2018. If a student does not cancel or return financial aid, any overpayments of aid are recovered and are subject to interest at 7.5%.