About 41,000 students receiving financial aid had income in excess of the annual income limit in 2020. They have received a preliminary decision on the recovery of the overpaid financial aid. The number of students who exceeded the limit was smaller than in the previous year.
In 2020, 40,947 students had income in excess of the annual income limit specified in the Act on Student Financial Aid. Kela has sent them a preliminary decision on the recovery of overpaid financial aid. The average amount of financial aid that students are required to pay back is EUR 933. The total amount of financial aid proposed to be recovered under the preliminary decisions is EUR 38.2 million. In 2020, about 321,000 students received financial aid.
Last year Kela sent out preliminary decisions to 43,887 students, while the total amount recovered was EUR 39.6 million. The number of those who received a preliminary decision decreased by 2,940 from last year.
The annual income limit varies according to the number of months for which a student takes out financial aid. Students who in 2020 took out financial aid for nine months can have earned other income of up to EUR 12,498.
The income limits were raised by 25% at the beginning of 2022. The annual income limit is now EUR 15,630 for students who get financial aid for nine months.
The income check performed now only concerns student financial aid, i.e. study grants and housing supplements. The annual income check does not concern general housing allowance.
One-month deadline for submitting a review request
If the reason for exceeding the annual income limit is income earned during other periods than periods of active study, the overpayment debt may be reduced or waived altogether. Income earned during other periods than periods of active study can include for instance income earned after graduation.
Students can file a review request in which they should provide details of their studies and specify when the income was earned. The deadline for filing a review request is 17 March 2022. Students must provide details of their studies and when they earned their income if they started a course of study, graduated or used up their maximum financial aid entitlement during 2020. In previous years, about one quarter of those who were sent a repayment proposal were new or graduated students. The preliminary decision contains instructions for how to file a review request or agree on repayment arrangements.
Kela uses the national incomes register to carry out the income checks. Kela has checked the income of higher education students who began their studies, graduated or used up their entitlement during 2020. If it is certain, according to this check, that the income earned during the periods of active study has not been too high, Kela does not send a preliminary decision to the student and the student does not need to file a request for review. Following the check of the data in the national incomes register, the number of preliminary decisions decreased by 3,584.
If a student who has started a course of study, graduated or used up his or her maximum financial aid entitlement during 2019 still receives a preliminary decision, the student does not have to enclose any documentation on the incomes that have been entered in the national incomes register with the request for review.
Students must keep track of their income total
Students must keep track of their annual income so as not to exceed the income limit. Financial aid can be cancelled, stopped or returned easily using the OmaKela e-service.
The deadline for returning financial aid voluntarily for 2021 is the end of April 2022. If a student does not cancel or return financial aid, any overpayments of aid are recovered and are subject to a surcharge of 7.5%. This is not interest but a one-time payment.