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Student financial aid rules to ease in Finland

Government says it wants stop considering parental income and scholarships when under-18-year-olds apply for student financial aid or a housing supplement.

Opintotukihakemus.
An application for student financial aid. Image: Ismo Pekkarinen / AOP

The government is proposing that parents’ income no longer be considered when assessing applications for student financial aid and housing supplements -- in cases where under-age applicants do not live at home.

The government said the proposed measure would relax economic means testing for applications and would also reduce the workload for officials at the state benefits agency Kela, which processes student aid applications.

Currently, scholarships meant to supplement students’ incomes have the effect of reducing the amount of student financial aid applicants can receive.

"This rule has been seen as unjust, because scholarships are granted as an incentive," European, Culture and Sports Minister Sampo Terho said in a statement on Thursday.

The government is also proposing that parents’ income would no longer influence the amount of student financial aid or housing supplement that applicants can receive, in cases where the student is under the age of 18 and does not live with his or her parents.

The measure would mean that under-18-year-old students living independently would not be means-tested before they could receive the basic financial aid of 101.74 euros monthly. They would also have the right to a loan guarantee, which would also make it possible to receive housing support.

More aid for children of low income families

At the same time, students whose parents are low income earners would continue to be considered for increased financial aid.

The government also wants to eliminate the practice of considering parental income when assessing applications for a housing supplement. The move would cover under-18-year-olds who receive the supplement and live in student dorms, in the Åland Islands or abroad.

Students currently receive the full benefit of 88.87 euros per month if they live in dorms or abroad, while those who study in the Åland Islands receive a supplement of 210 euros monthly.

The proposal will be considered in conjunction with budget deliberations for next year.

The government said that it aims to change the system governing student aid scholarships from the beginning of 2019, while the intended reforms to means-testing student financial aid for under-19-year-olds would be introduced from 1 August 2019.

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