7. Financial Support for University Students in France
The system of student financial support in France comprises a series of different grants and loans that we can only touch upon here.
i. Student Grants in France
There are several types of grants (bourse), awarded by different public bodies, with different criterion.
Many grants are also not paid until well into the academic year.
The main student grant (bourse d'enseignement supérieur sur critères sociaux) is available on a means tested basis, with the amount per year ranging from €1,000 to circa €6,000 (2021/22), depending on the test of parent resources and other related criteria.
You can find more details of this grant and an application form at the main body responsible for student support called Centre National des Œuvres Universitaires et Sociales (CNOUS).
This organisation operates through a network of regional offices (CROUS), as well as some more local offices.
On their site is a useful tool that enables you to calculate the level of your grant, although you need to regard it as an estimate until the grant award is actually made.
The grant is available to students who are ordinarily and legally resident in France.
In the calculation of the test of resources many students would find they are eligible for at least some level of assistance.
If you are eligible for the main grant, for those students who obtained a très bien result in the baccalauréat examination an additional 'merit' grant of €900 is also payable. The grant is called Aide au mérite pour étudiant boursier.
However, it is not normally otherwise possible to accumulate the main grant with other grants, except for grants awarded by the county and regional councils.
If you are not resident in France, and therefore not eligible for the CNOUS grant, there are a range of other grants and loans, most of them operated through French embassies and consulates.
ii. Student Loans in France
For those resident in France or the EEA it is possible to obtain a low interest loan from a bank of up to €15,000 repayable on a delayed basis.
These loans are offered by most of the High Street banks with the State offering a guarantee of 70% of the loan. As a result, no parental guarantees are required.
You can read more about this loan at Prêt étudiant garanti par l'État.
In the case of Credit Agricole they do not participate in the above scheme, but they also offer a student loan, although a parental guarantee is required.
iii. Student Housing Benefits in France
Students are also eligible for support with housing costs available through the Caisses d'Allocations Familiales - CAF. It is not particularly generous.
Moreover, to claim housing benefit it would require that your child ceased to be part of your household for income tax purposes, so it might then increase your income tax liability. You would need to do the calculation.
iv. Other Support
Universities also have social services that can give money to students in need, but only on an occasional basis and only to cover food or health costs.
You should contact the higher education institution you propose to attend or go through their web site.
In addition, many county and regional councils also offer assistance, in the form of both grants and loans.
University in United Kingdom
A child of British nationality living in France is entitled to loans and grants for attending a university in the UK on pretty much the same terms as those living in the UK.
Consult the UK Directgov website for more information on your entitlement.
If you are stalled by officials, then you should quote Statutory Instrument 2006 No. 955, The Education (Student Support) (Amendment) Regulations 2006.
These regulations make it clear that British nationals living outside of the UK in the EEA are fully entitled to all grants and loans on the same basis as those living in the UK.
Some French universities also offer a year abroad for which grant assistance is available, although since Brexit there is no Erasmus programme with the EU.
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