Student loan compensation

If you take out a student loan while in higher education and you complete your degree within the target time, you may be eligible for a student loan compensation. The student loan compensation means that Kela pays back part of your student loan. The compensation is only available to higher education students who began their first course of study in higher education on or after 1 August 2014.

Eligibility for the student loan compensation

You are eligible for the student loan compensation if

  • you began your first course of higher education study on or after 1 August 2014 (i.e., your first year of attendance was 2014–2015 or later),
  • you complete your degree within the target time and
  • you have outstanding student debt of more than EUR 2,500.

Degrees which qualify you for a student loan compensation are:

  • bachelor's and master's level university degrees
  • bachelor's or master level degree obtained in a university of applied sciences.

The student loan compensation is only available for the first degree you complete. However, if you earn a bachelor's degree in a university, you can decide for yourself whether to apply for the compensation or whether to defer it until you have completed a master's degree.

Most graduates receive a written decision on the student loan compensation automatically. However, you must apply if you want to get the compensation for a bachelor's degree obtained in an institute of higher education. If you have completed a degree outside Finland, you must notify Kela.

Use this calculator to estimate whether you qualify for a student loan compensation, what is the target time for completing your degree, and how large the compensation would be.

You must complete your degree within a target time

To qualify for the student loan compensation, you must complete your degree within a specified target time. The target time depends on the degree you are completing.

Kela considers your period of study to begin at the beginning of the term when you first accept a place of study in any higher education institution.

  • always 1 January during the spring term (1 January - 31 July)
  • always 1 August during the autumn term (1 August - 31 December)

The period of study ends on the last day of the term in which you complete a degree.

  • always 31 July during the spring term (1 January - 31 July)
  • always 31 December during the autumn term (1 August - 31 December)

The period of study also includes terms in which you register as non-attending or interrupt your studies.

If you accepted a place of study before 1 August 2014, but did not register as attending until or after 1 August 2014, your period of study is considered to begin on 1 August 2014.

Extent of the degree programme Target time
Bachelor's + master's level university degrees or master's level university degree exclusively: target time = standard time to degree + max. one academic year
300 credits 6 academic years
330 credits 6.5 academic years
360 credits 7 academic years

If you complete a master's level university degree exclusively, the target time depends on the combined extent of the bachelor's and master's programmes.

Example: Master’s level university degree exclusively

A student completes a 120-credit master's degree in a university. The target time for the student loan compensation is calculated by adding to it the extent of the bachelor's programme (180 credits). The total extent of the degree programme is 120 cr + 180 cr = 300 credits.. The target time is 6 academic years. The target time is counted from the beginning of the term in which the student accepted his or her first place of study at any institution of higher education.

Extent of the degree programme Target time
Degree earned in a university of applied sciences or bachelor's level university degree: target time = standard time to degree + max. one term (= 0.5 academic years)
180 credits 3.5 academic years
210 credits 4 academic years
240 credits 4.5 academic years
270 credits 5 academic years

Example: Student is non-attending in academic year 2014-2015

A student accepts a place to study in a university of applied sciences in autumn 2014. She registers as non-attending for the academic year 2014-2015. She completes a 210-credit university of applied sciences degree on 20 December 2018. The degree completion time taken into account for purposes of the student loan compensation is 1 August 2014 - 31 December 2018, or 4.5 academic years. She does not qualify for a student loan compensation. The academic year 2014-2015 during which the student was non-attending also counts towards the degree completion time.

Example: Student is non-attending in academic year 2013-2014

A student accepts a place to study in a university of applied sciences in autumn 2013. She registers as non-attending for the academic year 2013-2014. She first registers as attending on 1 August 2014. She completes a 210-credit university of applied sciences degree on 20 December 2017. The degree completion time taken into account for purposes of the student loan compensation is 1 August 2014 - 31 December 2017, or 3.5 academic years. She qualifies for a student loan compensation. The academic year 2013-2014 during which the student was non-attending does not count towards the degree completion time, because calculation of the completion time does not begin until 1 August 2014.

Extension of the target time

If you do not complete a degree within the target time, you may still be eligible for a student loan compensation if there is an acceptable reason for your failing to meet academic progress requirements. Such acceptable reasons are

  • performing conscript, alternative or voluntary military service
  • looking after your child, provided you were paid maternity, paternity or parental allowance
  • a period of illness,  provided you were paid sickness allowance  or rehabilitation subsidy, pension or compensation on grounds of full incapacity for work.

The period of service or payment of an allowance must be uninterrupted and last at least 30 days during a period of time which qualifies for the student loan compensation.

Example 1

A student completes a 240-credit bachelor's degree at a university of applied sciences. If the student completes the degree in 4.5 academic years, he or she is entitled to a student loan compensation. If the student accepted the place of study in autumn 2014, any justifiable reasons for extending the target time will be taken into account only for the period 01/08/2014 to 31/12/2018.

Example 2

A student completes a 300-credit bachelor's degree at a university. If the student completes the degree in 6 academic years, he or she is entitled to a student loan compensation. If the student accepted the place of study in autumn 2014, any justifiable reasons for extending the target time will be taken into account only for the period 1 August 2014 to 31 July 2020.

The student is performing conscript service in autumn 2014 and spring 2015 with the result that the target time for qualifying for a student loan compensation can be extended by one academic year. The degree must be completed by 31 July 2021.

The student falls ill during spring 2021 and receives sickness allowance payments for at least 30 days. The target time can be extended by 0.5 academic years. The student will qualify for a student loan compensation if he or she earns the degree by 31 December 2021.

A period of service or payment of an allowance lasting at least 30 days during a single academic term extends the target time by 0.5 academic years. Term dates are 1 January - 31 July and 1 August - 31 December. The target time cannot be extended by more than 0.5 academic years even if you have had several periods of service or payment of an allowance during a single term.

If the period of service or payment of an allowance lasts at least 30 days, but not within any individual term, the target time can still be extended by 0.5 academic years.

The target time can be extended without limit because of child care responsibilities. For any other reasons, the target time can usually be extended by a maximum of two academic years.

If you exceed the target time, you will receive a preliminary decision Kela telling you that you are not granted a student loan compensation. If you have an acceptable reason for taking longer than the target time, you can ask Kela to review your case again.  The preliminary decision will give you the deadline for requesting a review.