Financing of General Education

Pre-primary, primary, secondary and upper secondary education is all free of charge. This covers free tuition, free teaching equipment and learning material, free school transport where considered necessary, and a free daily meal. 

Under the Basic Education Act, local authorities may set a monthly fee for pupils who take part in morning and afternoon activities. A reasonable fee may also be charged from pupils for basic art education.  In upper secondary schools, school meals are free of charge and school journeys may be subsidised. A reasonable fee may be charged for liberal adult education.

Students can be granted student financial aid for full-time studies in an upper secondary school or a folk high school. There are various financial subsidies for adult learners too.

Responsibility for financing

The state and the local education providers share the financial cost for tuition and the construction of schools. The local education providers receive central government transfers for costs related to establishing and using educational institutions.

Central government transfers system for pre-primary, primary and lower secondary education

The state participates in the financing of educational services by means of the central government transfers system. The central government transfers system for pre-primary education and basic education comprises the central government transfers to local governments for basic public services and the municipality of residence reimbursement to pre-primary education and basic education providers, which are coordinated by the Ministry of Finance, as well as central government transfers for the provision of education and culture coordinated by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The financing system applies to municipalities, private education providers and joint municipal authorities. The Ministry of Education and Culture is the public authority in charge of the financial administration of state subsidies. The Finnish National Agency for Education is responsible for the collection of information, the information services and customer guidance related to the central government transfers system. 

Financial resources coordinated by the Ministry of Finance

Central government transfers to local government for basic public services are based on the municipality's population size in each age group and a basic price set per resident in each age group, as well as supplementary transfers and other extra funding based on specific conditions in the municipality. Municipality of residence reimbursements to education providers are determined on the basis of the municipality’s imputed costs for pre-primary education, primary and lower secondary education separately for the following groups: age 6, ages 7 to 12 and ages 13 to 15. The Ministry of Finance decides each year on the basic sum for the municipality of residence reimbursement for each municipality separately. The municipality of residence reimbursement is taken into account in a centralised manner in connection with the disbursement of the central government transfers. 

Financial resources coordinated by the Ministry of Education and Culture

The Act on the Financing of Educational and Cultural Provision (1705/2009) has provisions on the financing of those activities in pre-primary education and comprehensive school education that do not fall within the scope of the age-group specific government transfers financed by the Ministry of Finance. Under the Basic Education Act, the Ministry of Education and Culture is in charge of financing comprehensive school education related to additional voluntary comprehensive school education, instruction preparing immigrants for comprehensive school education, pre-primary and comprehensive school education for non-compulsory school-aged students, education provided abroad, education based on extended compulsory education, reform school education, boarding school education at comprehensive school level and flexible comprehensive school education. Financing for these is determined on the basis of the number of students and a unit price per student.

The funds for operating costs for tuition are disbursed directly to the education provider, in other words to the educational institution of a local authority, joint municipal authority or private organisation or foundation that is the student is attending. The financial resources that have been granted are not earmarked to the allocation or imputation bases; instead, the local authority or other education provider is free to decide how to allocate the funds.

Financing of upper secondary education, morning and afternoon activities and liberal adult education

Central government transfers for upper secondary education are allocated on an imputed basis. They are based on the number of students and a unit price per student. The municipality covers teaching and education expenses for upper secondary education for up to 58% of the criteria for central government transfers to local government finances. The unit used for fees for morning and afternoon activities for pupils is one hour of supervision and for basic art education the unit is one lesson hour.

There is no statutory local government transfer stipulated for the financing of liberal adult education. Central government transfers account for 57% of the funds for community colleges, folk high schools and summer universities and 65% of funds for study centres and sports institutes.

Discretionary government transfers

The central government transfer system is supplemented with various discretionary government transfers, which are awarded for education and training purposes and for development purposes. The resources are allocated from the Ministry of Education and Culture's share of the national Budget.

Contact information

Hanna Salokaarto, Senior specialist 
OKM, Yleissivistävän koulutuksen ja varhaiskasvatuksen osasto, Strategia- ja ohjausryhmä 0295330231  


Jari Rutanen, Senior specialist 
OKM, Yleissivistävän koulutuksen ja varhaiskasvatuksen osasto, Strategia- ja ohjausryhmä 0295330011