A jobseeker’s independent study can be supported by unemployment benefit

Independent study supported by unemployment benefit may improve your vocational skills and your chances of finding or keeping a job. The educational services are provided by an educational institution, and the benefit is paid by the Social Insurance Institution (Kela) or an unemployment fund.

The TE Office does not procure the training or select the students as in the case of labour market training. Before the training starts, however, the TE Office will assess if the requirements concerning your education and training needs and the criteria for supporting independent study are met. Contact your TE Office as early as possible for example by sending a contact request a via E-services.

You may receive unemployment benefit during your studies if

  • you have registered with the TE Office as a jobseeker and your job search is valid
  • you are aged 25 or over
  • the TE Office's assessment indicates that you need education or training, and the studies will improve your vocational skills and your chances in the job market
  • before you started the studies, you have made an agreement with the TE-office in your employment plan that your studies will be supported by unemployment benefit.

Independent study cannot be supported by unemployment benefit, if you resign from your employment just to start independent studies. If you resign, for example, due to medical reasons or because you are transferring from one labour force service to another (for example from a fixed-term job supported by pay subsidy to independent study), your own resignation does not prevent the studies from being supported by unemployment benefit.

For what type of studies can unemployment benefit be paid?

Only full-time study can be supported with unemployment benefit. Studies are considered full-time when:

  • they aim at completing a degree at a university or a university of applied sciences,
  • they are general upper secondary studies intended for young people or
  • they are studies whose extent is on average 5 credits at minimum, or 4.5 ECVET points  a month, or 25 hours a week.

The studies must lead to

  • a vocational qualification or a further or specialist vocational qualification
  • a Bachelor's or a Master's degree at a university or a higher education institution
  • completion of modules of these degrees.

The studies may also comprise further and continuing education or open university or open university of applied sciences education in compliance with the Act on vocational education or the Act on vocational adult education.

A person cannot be granted unemployment benefits while they complete further education studies leading to a licentiate or PhD.

A jobseeker may only receive unemployment benefits upon hisher return to prior studies, if at least a year has passed from the time at which studies were discontinued. This will be confirmed from the student’s transcripts or other evidence provided by the educational institution where the student studied. However, the restriction does not apply to studies started during employment or to studies which started during a period where a student received employer paid financial benefit, or if the same studies were taken as vocational training.

There are no requirements as to the duration of the studies, but unemployment benefit to support your studies can only be paid for a maximum of 24 months per qualification or degree. However, basic education can be supported for a maximum period of 48 months. You will also be using up your days of the maximum period for paying an earnings-related and basic allowance during your studies.

If your studies cannot be supported with the unemployment benefit, it may still be possible for you to study on a part-time basis without losing your benefit.

Contact the TE Office to have an agreement on your studies

You must apply for a study place yourself, but, as a rule, you need to agree on the studies with your TE Office before the studies begin. It is possible to agree on studies after the studies have started, if the studies began during employment, or if the same studies were taken as vocational training, or if at least a year has passed from the time at which the studies were discontinued and you are now planning to start the studies again. It might also be possible to agree on studies after the studies have started, if you received a study place from a waiting list, or if the TE Office does not have time to make the employment plan before the studies start.

Support amount and payment

If a decision has been made to support your studies, you will receive unemployment benefit or labour market subsidy while studying.

As a student receiving support, your will be required to report on the progress of your studies. If the TE Office and the party paying the support do not receive the information they require, your entitlement to unemployment benefit may be expire, and you may have to pay back benefits already paid to you. Suspension of support requires a valid reason (such as going to work, illness or taking family leave). 

Inform the TE Office as soon as possible, if your studies are temporarily on a break (for example due to a long sick leave, family leave or a longer work contract), because you will be spending your support time until you inform about the break in the studies. The TE Office will consider the validity of the reason. Holiday periods of the institution are not considered a valid reason. Remember to inform the TE office also when your studies continue after a temporary break.

For further information or guidance, please see the links to the right of the page.