The subject is widely discussed in Finland and in the end concerns every Finnish citizen. If some of the readers don’t know, the student financial aid has three forms which are study grants, housing supplements and government guarantees for student loans. Many people don’t regard student loan as a reasonable alternative because loans must always be paid back. Instead, the students go to work along studies which might slow the progress of the studies.
The amount of financial aid depends on your age, mode of accommodation, marital status and the type of school you are going to. In addition, the amount of income is restricted to a certain sum per month and if you earn “too much”, you are not entitled to the full financial aid. This is a very debatable subject whether it’s better to have the limits or not. Some people experience the limits as a punishment not to be able to work as much as they would like to.
This topic has various perspectives and opinions. Needless to say, there are several things that should be taken into account. Finland is one the most expensive countries in the EU. The food prices are almost the same throughout the country but rental housing prices vary depending on the area you are living in. The Helsinki Metropolitan area and other bigger cities are more costly than smaller towns.
Let’s take an example. Let me introduce Joe who is a 22-year-old university student and has started his studies in 2012. Joe lives in his own rental apartment and his accommodation costs are 800 euros per month. He applies for the financial aid and receives a study grant of 301,89 euros and housing supplements 201,60 euros each month, all together 503,49 euros before taxes. After 10% tax share deduction the amount is 453,14 euros. It’s only about a half of the housing costs. Joe could take out a 400€ loan every month and that’s what he has to do if he doesn’t have any income. With the loan Joe can afford his housing costs and possibly travel expenses to school. But like every human on this planet, Joe has to eat too. His practical alternative is to get a roommate to share the housing expenses. This way Joe gets to keep more money to himself. The second choice is to go to work.
It’s problematic that some people benefit from the financial aid more than people living in the Metropolitan area. A viable option could be to tie up the amount of housing supplements to the average rental prices calculated for each city. Of course there could be several possible options. However, the current system doesn’t treat all the students equally. Most likely the changes in this matter will not be made in the near future, but if so, those changes won’t probably be made the students’ interests in mind.