13,200 students may lose financial aid for not getting enough credits
The Social Security authority has sent a request for additional information to students who do not meet the minimum requirements to receive financial aid. The deadline for replying is 25 October 2019.
Finland is a generous country with its university students and provides them with scholarships and grants as long as they fulfill their mission. To make sure that is the case, the Social Security Institution (Kela) assesses the academic progress of higher education students on a yearly basis.
The assessment has now been carried out for around 130,000 higher education students who received financial aid in the academic year 2018-2019, informed Kela through its website. The outcome of this process was that the social security institution has sent a request for further information to 7,500 university students and 5,700 students of universities of applied sciences. In total, 13,200 students (around 10% of the total evaluated) will have to explain the reasons why they have not completed the minimum credit requirements.
According to Kela's explanation, the academic progress of students in higher education is assessed on the basis of financial aid data and information about the number of credits they have earned. The assessment focuses both on the academic year 2018-2019 and the entire time that a student has pursued higher education studies in Finland.
Kela assesses academic progress in accordance with the requirements set out in the legislation on student financial aid. The academic progress has been sufficient if the student has earned at least 20 credits in the previous academic year and on average at least five credits for each month of financial aid.
The requirement of 20 credits earned does not apply to any academic year in which the student either completed a higher education degree or began a course of higher education during the spring term.
Acceptable reasons for insufficient progress
The Social Security institution advised students to reply promptly to the request for information, preferably by using its online service. The deadline to send replies is 25 October. Financial aid payments to students who do not reply or whose reasons are not accepted will be stopped on 1 January 2020.
Nevertheless, Kela considers whether there are acceptable reasons for the unsatisfactory academic progress. Among them, Kela mentions the following in its website:
- An illness of your own or of your close family member.
- Otherwise difficult circumstances.
- Completing a particularly large study module (such as a thesis).
Another reason which may be accepted is if the student stopped studying because of the birth of a child or the performance of compulsory military service, alternative civilian service or women's voluntary armed service. In those cases, payment of financial aid may be continued.
The reply form to inform of insufficient progress can be found HERE
Incomplete studies also taken into account
The assessment of academic progress takes into account all credits earned at Finnish institutes of higher education and the number of months of financial aid since 1 August 2011. The academic progress of students who have graduated with a higher education degree and who continue studies in higher education is assessed for the period following the month of graduation.
If a student has credits from more than one institute of higher education, Kela will automatically include such credits in the assessment. Also incomplete studies are taken into account when assessing academic progress. "Students may wish to explain the reasons for failing to complete a previous course of study in their reply," Kela says.
Last year, 15,000 students received the request for further information, 9,650 of whom attended a university and 5,350 a university of applied sciences. Therefore, the number of requests for information decreased this year.