The Swedish study support system
State financial aid for studies has a long tradition in Sweden and is an important part of the Government's education policy.
Financial aid is intended to make it easier to study and thereby contribute to a high level of participation in the education system. Moreover, it is intended to level out the differences between individuals and groups in the population so as to make society fairer. Financial aid is primarily intended to cover a student's living costs during their education. Financial aid for studies is also an important part of the Swedish welfare system.
In recent years, several reforms of financial aid for studies have been carried out in order to create a well-functioning system that matches the country's expansion of its number of places in higher education. The current financial aid system was introduced on 1 July 2001.
Swedish financial aid is very generously designed, creating the financial conditions for many people to obtain an education. It also means that the State's annual investments in this area are enormous.
Swedish financial aid for studies 2012
900 000 students
SEK 22 billion (EUR 2.6 billion)
The Swedish study support system:
- is universal
- includes virtually all citizens,
- is given directly to the student,
- is principally granted independently of parents' or family's financial situation.
There are different kinds of state study support to meet varying needs.
All adult students can apply for student aid regardless of the educational level of their studies. Student aid can be granted for full- or part-time studies. Students have the option of choosing to engage in a certain amount of work alongside their studies without the level of aid being reduced. Student aid consists partly of a loan and partly of a grant that is disbursed for the period of study, normally 40 weeks per academic year. There are some limitations on the right to student aid that are linked to the period of study and to the student's age. The upper age limit for receiving student aid is 54 years.
The sum paid as a student grant is equal for all and is adjusted annually to follow the general development of prices in society. The student grant comprises around one-third of the total amount of student aid and is tax-free and pensionable. Students with children receive a special child allowance.
The sum paid as a student loan is around two-thirds of the total amount of student aid. More than two-thirds of all students choose to take out a student loan as well. It is also possible for some students to receive further supplementary loans and loans for additional costs in connection with their studies.
Student aid for full-time studies in 2012 amounts to approximately SEK 9 660 per month of studies (nine months/year). However, student aid is usually disbursed four weeks at a time for 10 months per year. The total sum for each four week period in 2012 amounts to SEK 8 920.
The student aid system presumes repayment of student loans. Repayment begins at the beginning of the year following the conclusion of studies and normally continues for 25 years. Interest is added directly to the debt. The interest rate is advantageous compared with other interest on loans and takes account of tax deduction rules in the tax system. Security clauses are also built into the repayment system, which make it possible to take account of an individual's ability to pay.
Great emphasis is given in Sweden to opportunities to study abroad at post-upper secondary school level. Generous conditions therefore exist for obtaining student aid for studies abroad. Students abroad are also able to take out extra loans for additional costs in connection with their studies.
Upper secondary study allowance
The aim of student allowance is to promote a high level of participation in upper secondary school and contribute to the costs of young people's education. The grant supplements other social support to families with children. Study allowance primarily consists of a student grant for young students at upper secondary schools and is disbursed over a ten-month period per academic year. It is also possible for some people to receive means-tested supplementary support.
Other types of support
There are different types of financial aid for studies that target special groups of students, such as students with disabilities.
Agencies and regulatory framework
Financial aid for studies is primarily administered by one central government agency, CSN. Financial aid is primarily regulated in the Student Aid Act (1999:1395) and the Student Aid Ordinance (2000:655). CSN has also issued a number of regulations.
Information on Swedish education policy can be found under the heading Higher education institutions in Sweden. Detailed information on financial aid for studies can be found on CSN's website, including how to apply for financial aid, the conditions that must be fulfilled and rules applying to repayment of loans.
Would you like to read the laws and ordinances?
The relevant laws and ordinances from the Swedish Code of Statutes (in Swedish only) can be downloaded from the Riksdag website or from the Government Offices legal databases. Search using the SFS number.