About a year ago there was a demonstration where thousands of students demonstrated to preserve the current structure of financial aid for students and couple of days after the demonstration a high school student wrote an article to Helsingin sanomat. In the article she said that the demonstration wasn’t just selfish, but also thoughtless. She thought that previously students had to get by on much less money than so adequacy of money is all about the budgeting (Kopra, 2013).
Even though that article was published about a year ago, I wanted to give you my opinion of the current situation of financial aid and how I’m coming to terms without other salaries etc. I really don’t agree with this high school student and financial aid is the only source of my income so I know it’s not all about the budgeting. If it would be all about the budgeting, how much should the financial aid be? Nowadays it’s about 450 euros in a month and it’s the maximum that student can have as financial aid for students. Let’s talk about the situation where student don’t have a job and the financial aid is the only source of profit. In this situation this 450 euros should be enough for paying rent, electricity, water, a phone bill, food and travel expenses to get to the school but also other expenses like clothes and studying materials.
In order to qualify for student financial aid, you must have gained admission to post-comprehensive studies, be a full-time student, make satisfactory academic progress and be in need of financial assistance. Financial aid can be grant for full-time study after a primary school so it doesn’t matter are you in upper secondary school, vocational institution or institution of higher education (Opintotukilaki 4 §). You can get financial aid regardless of where are you studying but the amount of financial aid depends on the type of school you are enrolled in but it also depends on your age, your accommodation and sometimes also by your own income or your parents’ and your spouse’s income. Financial aid for students consists of three sections:
• Study Grant
The study Grant is a benefit which is financed by government and it’s paid at your bank account monthly after you are applied it and your application has been approved. It’s important to notice that you are justified for the study grant only for the months when you are studying. The amount of the study grant depends on the type of school you are enrolled in but it also depends on your age, your accommodation and sometimes also by your own income or your parents’ and your spouse’s income. You can get study grant from the beginning of the month following your 17th birthday.
• Housing Supplement
With the study grant you can get the housing supplement for the months you are attending school and live in rented or right-of-occupancy accommodation. It’s important to notice that the housing supplement is not available for owner-occupied homes and in the situation where several students share accommodation, each of these people should apply for housing supplement according to their part of the rent.
• Government guarantee for student loans
The financial aid system also includes study grant and housing supplement but also an arrangement by which student loans are guaranteed by the government. If you have been granted a government student loan guarantee you can apply for a student loan from the bank of your choice. You can apply for a loan guarantee for the entire duration of your studies but it will be granted one year at a time and your eligibility checked before each academic year. (Kela, 2012) Study grant and housing supplement are paid to student’s bank account monthly but the government guarantee for student loans must be applied separately. Student can apply the student loan from different banks and everything that happens after student has been granted a government student loan guarantee happens between student and the bank.
In Finland the average rent per square meter is 12, 43 euros which means that the average 20 square meters studio apartment rent would be 248, 60 euros in a month (Tilastokeskus, 2014). In my opinion twenty square meters is quite small space but when comparing to my small cell apartment, where my own room is about fifteen square meters, this studio apartment looks like I could easily live there. After the rent there would be about 200 euros left of financial aid without taking the student loan and now it’s time to think how it is possible to live a month with only 200 euros, when you have to pay electricity, water, a phone bill, food and travel expenses to get to the school but also other expenses like clothes and studying materials. The electricity and water bills in a studio apartment depend for example student’s electricity contract and the waste of the water but they are still mandatory fees when living in your own apartment, in cell apartments both of the bills can be included in the rent. Monthly pass for public transport in Helsinki is about 23 euros in Helsinki area and about 47 euros in the area of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen – many students are forced to pay the more expensive monthly pass for public transport because they are living in Helsinki and studying in for example Vantaa (HSL, 2014). After these expenses there is lot of different monthly expenses like food, a phone bill and studying materials, which can be quite expensive for example in university in applied sciences. You don’t have to buy all the course materials if you can loan them from libraries, but I think that a phone bill is something every student has to pay.
If you are not so lucky, that you can work part-time in in addition to the school, living can be very hard even though you would be budgeting your life carefully. There’s really no money for doing things you love the most, no money to continue your childhood hobbies and no money to buy new jeans, when the old ones are worn-out. Nowadays it’s quite difficult to get any job so many students have to live their lives with only financial aid and I’m one of them: I don’t have money to party every weekend with my friends or buy new clothes every month, but by giving up partying and new clothes I have learned that money doesn’t make me happy. There is lot of things that I can do without money, but still in my opinion the financial aid is not enough and the demonstration to preserve the current structure of financial aid for students wasn’t selfish or thoughtless. There’s always an opportunity to take a student loan but how many of students would really like to take a loan for many thousands when there’s no guarantee for full-time job in the future?
Tilastokeskus. Vuokrat nousivat vuodessa 3,8 prosenttia. http://www.stat.fi/til/asvu/2013/asvu_2013_2014-03-07_tie_001_fi.html. 16.3.2013.
Opintotukilaki 4 §. http://finlex.fi/fi/laki/ajantasa/1994/19940065?search%5Btype%5D=pika&search%5Bpika%5D=opintotuki. 16.3.2013.
Kopra, Aino. 2013. Opintotukimielenosoitus oli ajattelematon. http://www.hs.fi/paivanlehti/mielipide/Opintotukimielenosoitus+oli+ajattelematon/a1363795782386. 16.3.2014.
Opintolaina. Kela, 2012. http://www.kela.fi/opintotuki_opintolaina. 16.3.2014.
Opintotuki. Kela, 2012. http://www.kela.fi/opintotuki. 16.3.2014.
Asumislisä. Kela, 2012. http://www.kela.fi/opintotuki_asumislisa. 16.3.2014.
Liput ja hinnat. HSL, 2014. https://www.hsl.fi/liput-ja-hinnat. 16.3.2014.