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Change in the criteria for satisfactory academic progress in higher education
Under the new criteria, the entire period of study will be considered when assessing academic progress, and any higher education studies will count towards meeting the criteria. The change will bring improvements for students who are completing several higher education degrees at the same time. Also any unfinished studies and the months of financial aid related to them will be taken into account when assessing academic progress.
Every year in October, Kela carries out an assessment among higher education students to verify that they are making satisfactory academic progress. Next October, the assessment will focus on the academic year 1 August 2017 – 31 July 2018 and the entire time that a student has pursued higher education studies in Finland.
Progress is deemed as satisfactory if the student has earned at least five credits per month of aid. The assessment looks at the number of credits earned in the previous academic year or, as appropriate, the average number of credits across the entire period of study.
Further, students must complete at least 20 credits per academic year to qualify for financial aid. What is new is that the minimum requirement does not apply to the academic year during which a student with a spring graduation date completes a higher education degree. It also does not apply to the first academic year of any course of education that begins in the spring term.
Students who do not meet the criteria for satisfactory academic progress will receive a request for further information from Kela, giving them the opportunity to explain their lack of progress. If academic progress has slowed temporarily and for a good reason, students may continue to receive financial aid.
Students who know that they will not meet the criteria for satisfactory academic progress can return or pay back financial aid they have received.
The assessment of academic progress takes into account all credits earned at Finnish institutes of higher education and the number of months of financial aid since 1 August 2011. If a student has credits from more than one institute of higher education, Kela will automatically include such credits in the assessment. Incomplete studies are included as well, and beginning a new course of study after failing to complete a previous one will no longer reset the academic progress count. However, students may wish to explain the reasons for failing to complete a previous course of study in their reply.
Students who graduate before the check is carried out are considered to have made satisfactory academic progress. If a student has completed a degree of higher education and continues in higher education, the study credits and months of financial aid are taken into account starting from the beginning of the month following the completion of the degree.