The growth in the number of student loan borrowers in Finland slowed down in 2022, according to a press release by Kela, the Finnish Social Insurance Institution. The mediaan amount of student loans borrowed was 14,389 euros, and Helsinki-based students took out significantly more loans than those in other regions. While the number of borrowers grew rapidly in the late 2010s, the growth has since slowed down.
Several factors have contributed to the growth in the number of student loan borrowers in recent years. These include the changing nature of the student aid system, which has become more loan-focused, and incentives such as the student loan deduction, a low-interest rate environment, and promising employment prospects for graduates. However, changes in the economy and the job market, as well as a rise in interest rates, may have caused students to be more cautious about taking out loans.
The decline in growth is most evident in the number of students who receive student aid, which includes new borrowers. In 2021, the number of aid recipients who had taken out student loans increased by approximately 17,000 compared to the previous year. However, in 2022, the number increased by only 1,400.
Helsinki, Pirkanmaa, and Länsi-Uusimaa are the regions with the highest average student loan amounts. Helsinki, in particular, stands out, with a mediaan amount of 14,389 euros borrowed by university and polytechnic students in 2022. This amount is significantly higher than the average loan amount of around 12,000 euros in other regions. According to Kela's research director, Signe Jauhiainen, the differences in loan amounts may be related to living costs, employment prospects, and possibly even the field of study.
Jauhiainen believes that the differences in borrowing between regions are largely due to the unique circumstances of the capital region, where students may assess their employment prospects as better and, therefore, take out more loans. However, Jauhiainen notes that the slowing growth in student borrowing across the country may be a sign of increased caution among students, who are becoming more aware of the risks associated with debt.
In conclusion, while the growth in the number of student loan borrowers in Finland has slowed down, there are still significant regional differences in the average amount borrowed. Students in Helsinki and its surrounding areas tend to borrow more than those in other regions, which may be due to better employment prospects. However, changes in the economy and the job market may have made students more cautious about taking on debt, as evidenced by the slowing growth in the number of borrowers.