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Student loans in Finland balloon to more than 3bn euros

State-backed study loans have more than doubled in the past decade in Finland.

Nuori laskee matematiikan tehtäviä funktiolaskimella.
Education is generally free of charge in Finland, but students must buy their own books and equipment. Image: Tiina Jutila / Yle

The number of people in Finland with outstanding study loans has risen by 43 percent over the past decade, according to figures from the Social Insurance Institution (Kela).

As of July this year, the total amount of student loans was approximately 3.1 billion euros, compared to just 1.4 billion in mid-2008. The figures reflect the change in the value of the euro over the period.

During the same decade, the number of individuals holding such loans swelled from about 280,000 to more than 400,000, an increase of 43 percent.

The average outstanding loan balance was 7,631 euros per person this year.

During the last academic year, nearly 151,100 students took out state-guaranteed loans. That number has also doubled in a decade, as about 75,000 students borrowed money in 2007-08.

No tuition, but books and gear can be pricey

During the 2017-18 school year, students from universities of applied sciences made up the biggest block of borrowers at nearly 40 percent.

Roughly one third of borrowers were students at academic universities, while vocational college students accounted for nearly 23 percent. Some 4.5 percent were students and about two percent were high school students. While education is in principle free of charge in Finland, students are generally responsible for buying their own books and equipment.

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