Tuition fees in Finland: Everything you need to know

Finland in a brief

Finland is one of the northernmost countries in the world. While it may be off the beaten track, this Nordic country is anything but insular. Finland leads the world in education, government transparency, stability, and saunas.

Finland has a small population (just under 5.5 million people), but the country has a diverse international community, and international students will find a warm welcome.

Based on the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, Finland is rated as one of the most innovative countries in the aspect of higher education and training programs. With such an excellent reputation, it is hard not wanting to know more about studying in this Nordic country.

Finnish higher education institutions offer over 400 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs taught in English. Doctoral study and research options are available too.

Most of the Bachelor’s degree programs taught in English are offered by universities of applied sciences (UAS), whereas most of the master’s programs taught in English are provided by universities.

This article will provide you with the necessary information on what you need to know about tuition fees in Finland.

Can you study in Finland for free?

Sure, you can, but based on certain conditions. If you’re a citizen of a country in the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) countries, or Switzerland, you have the opportunity to study in Finland for free. This means that you don’t have to pay any tuition fees.

If you’re not from the EU, EEA, or Switzerland, you are seen as an international student. Most international students have to pay tuition fees. The few exceptions will be discussed further in this article.

Who needs to pay tuition fees to study in Finland?

The payment of tuition fees at universities in Finland applies to only international students who have come from a country outside the EU, EEA, or Switzerland. The tuition fees are applicable to full-time students in Bachelor or Master Programs, but Doctorate programs (PhDs) are usually tuition-free.

However, not all international students have to pay tuition fees. Exchange students from other countries don’t pay tuition in Finland. However, they might still be required to pay in their country of residence. Also, there are some exceptions for those that are already living in Finland under certain conditions.

For instance, if you already have a permanent or a fixed-term residence permit, or an EU Blue Card, you’re likely excluded from paying tuition fees. Also, anyone who chooses to study in Finnish or Swedish, instead of in English, is excluded from tuition fees. The exciting thing is that even if you do have to pay for the tuition, you might still be eligible for a scholarship that can cover your tuition fees.

How much does it cost to study in Finland?

So you are wondering how expensive it is to study in Finland if you have to pay, right? It all depends on the institution you have chosen for your study: Each university sets its own fees, and they also differ from program to program.

The table below shows the ranges of what some of the biggest Finnish universities charge international students. You may have to pay at least 6,000 euros per year, and up to 18,000 euros at the esteemed University of Helsinki:

University Tuition fees
Aalto University 12,000 to 15,000 EUR per year
Åbo Akademi University 8,000 to 12,000 EUR per year
Arcada University of Applied Sciences 6,000 to 9,000 EUR per year
Haaga-Helia UAS 8,500 to 9,500 EUR per year
Hanken School of Economics 12,500 EUR per year
Helsinki Metropolia UAS 10,000 to 12,000 EUR per year
University of Eastern Finland 8,000 to 15,000 EUR per year
University of Helsinki 13,000 to 18,000 EUR per year
University of Oulu 10,000 to 13,000 EUR per year
University of Tampere 8,000 to 12,000 EUR per year
University of Turku 8,000 to 16,000 EUR per year

When you budget your expenses for your stay in Finland, note that those amounts cover the tuition only. They don’t yet include an apartment or anything beyond on-campus services.

Are there scholarships for international students?

Yes, there is a range of funding opportunities for international students in Finland.

The most direct way is through university scholarships. Universities in Finland offer a range of scholarships for international students. These are primarily based on academic merits, and there is often a certain quota for each degree program. Some scholarships grant a complete fee waiver, while others may reward you with a percentage deduction on the tuition fees, e.g., 50%.

Ensure to read about the school’s scholarship options, and apply for that in time, when you start your application to a university in Finland

When are you required to pay the tuition charges as a student in Finland?

When you receive your acceptance letter for your chosen program, you will likely get the invoice for the first year’s tuition fees enclosed with it. If you got approved for a scholarship by the university, the amount that the scholarship covers will be deducted from the fees automatically. Depending on the nature of scholarship, it might be the entire amount, or the fee waiver might be only a fraction like 50%.

The payment terms slightly differ for each university. In most instances, you’re expected to pay the full annual tuition fees within two weeks or a month. Until you have paid the fees, your admission will be conditional. Some universities will offer to split the tuition fee into installments so that you won’t have to pay a high amount at once.

You should pay your tuition fees early. You cannot apply for a residence permit having just a conditional admission, so you’ll need to pay before you apply for the residence permit to get your student visa.

What is the monthly cost of living for a student in Finland?

Finland is not a cheap country. However, you can get by even on a limited student budget. The amount of money you will spend per month depends on your lifestyle, spending habits, and the place where you study. Helsinki, the capital city, will be pretty much more expensive than smaller towns like Oulu.

The University of Helsinki recommends you budget 700 to 1,000 euros per month, including rent. It saves money to get a place in a dormitory or student residence hall. This is because renting a room privately or a whole flat can be expensive, especially in Helsinki.

What are the best universities in Finland?

Finnish universities have an excellent reputation across the world. They usually perform well in international university rankings. Currently, the best-ranked Finnish institution is the University of Helsinki, which is one of the top 20 universities in Europe.

Other great Finland universities include Aalto University (in Helsinki) and the University of Turku. There are several splendid universities of applied sciences (also known as polytechnics) that are often overlooked in rankings because of their less research – and more practice-oriented system.

What are the application deadlines?

If you wish to start studying at any Finnish university in autumn (that is, in September), you must apply through the official portal in January of the same year. The specific date differs slightly yearly. Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences often accept later applications, sometimes till March/April, to start in the autumn of the same year.

If you wish to start a degree in January, the application period is usually in September the year before you start.

How to apply for a Finnish student visa

If you’re a non-EU/EEA student, you’ll need a residence permit. This is usually issued for one year or four years. You can do this online through the Finnish Immigration Service where you have to upload the following documents:

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  • a valid passport
  • an official letter of admission
  • evidence that you have enough money to cover your studies/living expenses in Finland
  • proof of health insurance

How to apply to a Finnish university?

Finland’s university application process is straightforward, like almost every other country. Applications are mainly made online. Applications for a Bachelor’s program often requires the following:

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  • a copy of your high school diploma or your International Baccalaureate certificate
  • high school grades transcript
  • an admission exam or SAT subject test

The good thing about applying for a degree in Finland is that you can have a joint application. What this means is that you can fill in a form with up to six (6) preferred study programs and submit only one application. Based on the scores of your application, you’ll be assigned to one of the programs you have chosen.

This means that you have more chances of studying in Finland with less stress and effort. Also, many Finnish universities have no application fee.

As the Finnish academic year is generally divided into two (2) semesters, you also benefit from two university admission sessions:

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  • For the Fall semester: two (2) weeks in January and two (2) weeks in March
  • For the Spring semester: the first weeks of September

If you’re accepted, you’ll receive an official letter of admission. You just have to follow the steps to confirm your spot as an international student in Finland.

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