Study progress in higher education

If you are in higher education you must complete

  • at least 5 credits on average for each month of financial aid and
  • at least 20 credits in each academic year (the minimum requirement)

The number of months of financial aid does not affect the minimum requirement for progress. Even if you have received financial aid for only one month within a single academic year, you must complete at least 20 credits.The minimum requirement for study progress does not apply to the first academic year of a course of study that begins in the spring (1 January – 31 July) nor to the academic year during which you in the spring term complete a degree of higher education.

If you have not earned at least 5 credits per each month of financial aid in the preceding academic year, you may still be able to get financial aid if you have earned at least 5 credits per month during your entire course of study. However, you must have earned at least 20 credits during the preceding academic year as a whole.

Example

A student earned 40 credits in the previous academic year (1 August–31 July) and has received financial aid payments for nine months. Over her entire course of study, she has earned 140 credits and taken out financial aid for 27 months.

  1. She earned at least 20 credits during the preceding academic year and therefore satisfies the minimum requirement for progress.
  2. She earned 4.4 credits on average for each month of financial aid in the previous academic year. Because this is less than 5 credits per month of financial aid, Kela checks the total number of credits earned over the entire course of study.
  3. The student has earned an average of 5.2 credits over her entire course of study. Because this is more than 5 credits per month of financial aid, she is deemed to have made sufficient academic progress. Kela does not send her a request for further information. Payment of financial aid continues.

When monitoring the study progress, all credits earned and months of financial aid as regards higher education studies are taken into account, but at the earliest starting from 1 August 2011.

If you graduate before the next review of study progress is made, you are considered to have made satisfactory progress. If you have completed a degree of higher education and you continue in higher education, the study credits and months of financial aid are taken into account for the time following the month when you completed the degree of higher education.

A month of financial aid is a month in which you have been paid either a study grant, a housing supplement, or both. Do not include the general housing allowance as aid months. If you wish to reduce the number of months of financial aid that are taken into account when monitoring your study progress, you can cancel financial aid or pay back aid that you have already received. If you do not complete at least 20 credits during the academic year, you must cancel or return all payments for that year.

Kela checks study progress every year in October. The check focuses on the preceding academic year (1 August - 31 July) and the whole time of studies as regards higher education studies. Kela does not monitor your progress on a month-by-month basis. Credits earned in August the same year are not taken into account until the next time your study progress is monitored. Transfer credits are not recognised when monitoring study progress.

If you do not make satisfactory study progress

If you have not made satisfactory progress, Kela will send you a letter requesting further information. Reply and explain the reasons for the lack of progress. You may continue to get financial aid if your progress was slowed temporarily and for an acceptable reason.

If you do not reply or the reasons you provide are not accepted, your financial aid can be

You may also be required to pay back financial aid, if it is discovered that your study progress has been particularly slow and if it is evident that you never intended to study at all.

Acceptable reasons for slower study progress

Acceptable reasons for slower study progress include

  • an illness of your own or of your close family member
  • otherwise difficult circumstances or
  • completing a particularly large study module (such as a thesis).

Another reason which may be accepted is if you stop your studies because of the birth of a child or the performance of compulsory military service, alternative civilian service or women's voluntary armed service. Payment of financial aid may be continued

  • if you began to receive maternity, paternity or parental allowance or started service by January, and the allowance or service lasted throughout the spring term, or
  • if you received maternity, paternity or parental allowance or did service for the entire autumn term, and the allowance or service ended sometime during the spring term.

Use the online form available on Kela’s e-service (available in Finnish or in Swedish) to reply or submit a separate explanation. Describe how your personal situation has affected your studies, and whether it continues to do so. If possible, enclose an official document (for example a doctor's note) about the reason affecting your study progress.

Providing information on completed credits

Check that all of the credits you have earned at Finnish institutions of higher education have been entered into your study record. If any credits you have earned are missing, take steps to have them entered into the record for the academic year in which you earned them. In your reply, list the credits that are missing and when you completed them. Provide details about completion dates also if a certain credit has been applied to a different academic year than the one in which you completed it. Kela checks the information you provide against the VIRTA database.

  • If you are working on a large study module (such as a thesis) that does not show up in the study record, enclose an estimate from your teacher or a certificate on partial completion indicating how many credits you have earned by 31 July towards completion of the module. If appropriate, fill in and print out the form OT 17e 'Notification of partially completed study module'.
  • If you have credits from a foreign institution of higher education that you want to count towards your study progress, enclose evidence of them.
  • This goes also for any credits you may have from the National Defence University or Högskolan på Åland.
  • Any credits earned before 1 August 2011 which you want to count towards your study progress are checked against the VIRTA database.

If you claim studies which you have completed abroad, in the National Defence University or Högskolan på Åland, or which you earned before 1 August 2011, any financial aid you may have taken out for those studies is taken into account as well.

Cancelling and returning financial aid

If you wish to reduce the number of months of financial aid that are taken into account when monitoring your study progress, you can cancel financial aid or return financial aid funds that you have already received. If the academic year during which you have fallen behind with your studies has not yet ended, we recommend that you cancel your financial aid.

  • Financial aid for the autumn term must be returned by the end of the following May.
  • Financial aid for the spring term must be returned by the August of the same year.

When monitoring study progress in higher education studies, Kela takes into account all payments returned by the time the monitoring starts. If you return financial aid after you have received a letter requesting information on your study progress, you must reply to the letter that you have returned financial aid.

If you do not complete at least 20 credits during the academic year (which is the minimum requirement for progress), you must cancel or return all payments for that year. However, the minimum requirement does not apply to the first year of a course of study beginning in the spring term (1 January–31 July) or an academic year in which you complete a higher education degree in the spring term.