A student in the library of the University of Helsinki on 28 August 2023. A considerable share of students who live alone in the capital region revealed in a recent survey that they are re-considering their housing situation due to the newly implemented cuts in the general housing allowance. (Roni Rekomaa – Lehtikuva)

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ALMOST a third of students living alone in the capital region are considering moving into a more affordable flat due to cuts in the general housing allowance, a new survey has revealed according to Helsingin Sanomat.

Conducted for the Foundation for Student Housing in the Helsinki Region (HOAS) by Vastakaiku, the survey found that most students would prefer to cut back on other costs and increase working hours rather than re-consider their housing situation due to the cuts.

Nearly a quarter of the students who responded to the survey revealed that they are considering moving into a more affordable flat regardless of the cuts.

Shared flats, however, were not regarded as an appealing option.

On Monday, the maximum share of applicable housing costs covered by the general housing allowance was cut from 80 to 70 per cent. The cut will come into effect for allowance recipients in conjunction with their next yearly review, resulting in a drop of 76 euros a month for the average student household.

The survey also looked into how students finance their housing and living costs.

Nine in ten students who live alone revealed that they receive the general housing allowance, student financial aid or both. Over half reported that they work and slightly fewer than half (48%) that they rely on earlier savings to finance their life during studies. Over half (52%) also stated that they have taken out a student loan and a little over a quarter (27%) that they receive financial support from their parents or guardians.

Juha Pantzar, the head of the Guarantee Foundation, told YLE on Monday that the allowance cuts will probably lead to longer graduation times for students, especially given that universities tend to be located in municipalities where rents are high and, as a result, the cuts will have a direct impact on disposable income.

“Students who already live on low income often don’t have the opportunity to earn to cover the cost of living. This will very likely lengthen graduation times,” he predicted.

The foundation has also estimated that the social security cuts will likely have a smaller-than-expected impact on public finances because they appear to be targeted specifically at people who are close to qualifying for income assistance. Pantzar explained to the public broadcasting company that the cuts will result in many such people becoming eligible for income assistance, meaning some of the cost savings will be gobbled up by rising income assistance costs.

The Guarantee Foundation is a national social welfare organisation that provides free services to help people to cope financially.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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