Update about financial aid from KELA

By Christian Nygård

Most students have something to do with KELA during their studies, often regarding study grant, general housing allowance and the student loan. The contact with KELA often goes smoothly, but sometimes you’ll have to struggle a little with them, in worse case you might even have to pay back some months of aid because of too high incomes. KELA is interested in making their systems as clear and easy as possible for us students, which have led to some changes now this year. Described below are some of the changes that have or will be made this year, that you hopefully can benefit from by knowing about them.

The income limit per year was raised for 2018 and 2019, if you lift nine months of study grant, you can have an annual income of 11 973€. This is a raise of about 120€ from last year. Additionally, if the income limit is exceeded with less than 222€, you won’t have to cancel or pay back any of the months you have gotten. The income limit contains taxable incomes such as salaries and capital, grants and scholarships as well as taxable social security incomes. The study grant, the general housing allowance and the student loan are not considered!

The financial aids are already paid during the first weekday of the month, as you might have noticed. As a Hanken student you might get the study grant of 250,28€ if you live independently, not with your parents. If you are the guardian of one or multiply children, you might get 75€ extra in study grant per month, this should be granted automatically. How many children you have, or where they live won’t affect the extra support.

Normally you are granted nine aid months, from September to May. But after 1.8.2018 you can, based on your application get fewer aid months as well as more if you want to study during the summer. It’s no longer required to apply separately for the summer or make a plan for your summer studies, you can just include the summer months in the normal application for study grant if you are going to study then. If the studies take longer than expected and your aid months are running out, you can now apply for a total of nine extra aid months, even though you have more than 75 ECTS credits left of your exam. It is required that you can motivate why you need more aid months, the reasons should be something that you have not been able to influence, such as illness.

It is required that you study on average nine ETCS credits per aid month, and a total of 20 ETCS credits per school year to gain any financial aid at all. In other words, one is required to gain at least 45 ETCS credits per schoolyear to be able to lift nine aid months. Are you applying for less aid months, you’ll be required to gain a minimal of 20 ETCS credits per schoolyear, even if you apply for less than four aid months. These requirements don’t apply for the first school year if you begin your studies during the spring semester.

Something that is new from this year is the interruption of studies. In case of interruption of one education and begin another one, the aid months won’t not start from zero again. If you in other words have studied for one year and lifted nine aid months, but then decide to change your education, those nine aid months won’t disappear. You have still used them from your maximal amount of aid months. KELA investigates all students study progresses in October 2018, then the progresses from for the schoolyear 1.8.2017-31.7.2018. If you have something about incomes, credits or something else that you need to tell KELA, then you should do it before the investigation in October. KELA gets all data automatically, and will require answers from the student if there are any problems during the investigation.

Other changes are for instance that you won’t have to declare your family relations or if you have moved when applying for student grant, KELA will get the information they need automatically. If you are going to study abroad for an exchange or similar, you’ll still have to notify yourself as present at Hanken and upload a proof for your studies abroad when applying for study grant. You can also get a special housing allowance for your time abroad. It will also become easier to apply for study grant, the processes will become automatic, which means that KELA gets all data automatically. When notifying yourself as present during the schoolyear, you won’t have to upload any attachments or write any free text, just fill in the boxes. The result of the application should be handled and communicated within minutes.

There haven’t been any major changes regarding the general housing allowance. The rules still seem to be a bit unclear, every case is evaluated by an examiner at KELA. Basically, you can get a general housing allowance that is 80% of the difference between the acceptable housing costs and the basic deductible. With low or no income, you won’t have any basic deductible. The acceptable housing costs depend on where and how you live. The housing allowance is tricky to apply for, you need to send in your labour contract and latest specification of salary if you are working, other attachments and the housing contract. The definitions of friends sharing an apartment and a couple living together are still a bit weird. But the rule is that married couples and cohabitant partners counts as a household with a common economy. Friends sharing an apartment rarely share their economy, but might still be evaluated as a household, it is KELA who define if you belong to the same household or not. The best way to avoid this is to have separate housing contracts, or have one contract for the apartment and separate contracts with the person renting the apartment as well as specifying that you don’t belong to the same household.