Subsidies for housing and livelihood

The following information is about the so called residence-based social security provided by Kela (Kansaneläkelaitos, The Finnish Social Insurance Institution). This means that you can apply the benefits if you are considered to be covered by the Finnish social security. Note: in all cases, you’ll have to apply for each benefit separately. The grounds for all benefits are defined by law and Kela reviews the life situation of each applicant individually. Kela benefits are not paid automatically to every applicant.

Student financial aid

You can apply for student financial aid from Kela if you study full-time and continuously after secondary school for at least two months at an upper secondary school, a folk high school, a vocational training school, a university or another equivalent educational institution. You can apply for student financial aid for studies outside Finland as well. The student financial aid consists of a study grant and a state guarantee for a student loan. In addition, you can apply for housing allowance to support your housing costs. The amount of and conditions for the student financial aid vary between university studies and secondary education. The study grant is a subsidy paid monthly for a student.

In addition to full-time studies, the student grant requires that you make progress in your studies and are in need of financial aid. The study grant is taxable income. You can receive a student grant once your right to child benefit ends at 17 years of age. The student grant is only paid for study months, and the amount is affected by the educational institution group, your age, your marital status and your housing status. When assessing your need for financial aid, your own income is taken into account, and in some cases, your parents’ income as well.

If you are not a Finnish citizen and have come to Finland for study purposes, the general rule is that you cannot get financial aid from Finland. However, there are some exceptions to this. Read more on Kela’s web site.

Read more > Students

General housing allowance

You can apply to Kela for housing allowance to support your housing expenses (rent, separately paid water and heating charges). The amount of allowance you receive depends on your income and assets. Kela will apply an earnings deduction to your housing allowance, which will then determine the actual amount of your housing allowance. If you have very low income, the earnings deduction will not be applied. The housing allowance can amount to up to 80 % of your reasonable housing expenses.

The general housing allowance is granted to low-income persons and households. A household refers to persons permanently living in the same apartment. You can receive general housing allowance for a rental, owned, right-of-occupancy and partially owned apartment. The housing supplement is for you if you are a student without children and live in a rental, right-of-occupancy or partially owned apartment. Students living with children or in an owned apartment can apply for a general housing allowance. Use the Kela calculator to find out whether you are eligible for a housing allowance.

Read more > How to calculate > Housing benefits

Unemployment benefits

If you become unemployed or have no job when your studies end, you can register as an unemployed job-seeker at a TE office. You can register online at After registering, you can apply for unemployment benefit from an unemployment fund or Kela. While unemployed, you can receive unemployment allowance (earnings-related or basic) or a labour market subsidy. You can apply for earnings-related unemployment allowance from an unemployment fund (usually run by your trade union) if you have been a member of one for a long enough period and meet the conditions regarding previous employment.

If you are not entitled to an earnings-related allowance, you can apply for a basic allowance or labour market subsidy from Kela. You can receive a basic allowance from Kela if you have already been in working life and meet the conditions regarding previous employment for a salary earner or entrepreneur when you become unemployed. The basic allowance is paid for a maximum of 400 days, after which you can apply for a labour market subsidy. If you do not meet the conditions regarding previous employment, you can apply for a labour market subsidy from Kela. It is granted indefinitely, but other income such as capital revenue decreases the subsidy. Any work income you earn while unemployed will be taken into consideration in unemployment benefits, as well as certain social benefits. You can earn €300 a month without it affecting the amount of unemployment allowance you receive.

Read more > Unemployment

Social assistance

Social assistance is a last-resort form of income security. It can be granted to a person or family whose income and other assets are not enough to cover necessary expenses. It is also possible to receive social assistance to support getting by independently or to prevent social marginalisation. The assistance is means-tested.

Social assistance consists of basic social assistance (basic amount and other basic expenses), supplementary social assistance and preventive social assistance. In 2017, the full basic amount for a person living alone is €487.89 a month. The basic amount must cover food and clothing expenses, minor health care expenses, expenses for personal hygiene and cleanliness of the home as well as the use of local transport, newspaper subscriptions, phone bills and hobbies. In addition to the basic amount described above, basic social assistance is granted for necessary housing expenses such as rent, water rate, electricity bills, home insurance and health care cost that are higher than minor costs.

Read more > Social assistance

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