University Student Grants and Loans in France
Tuesday 05 November 2013
The system of student financial support in France is not entirely ungenerous and tuition fees are generally very low.
There are several types of grants (bourses), awarded by different public bodies, national and local.
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 around €1,000 to circa €5,500 (2013/14), depending on the test of parental resources and other related criteria.
As a broad rule of thumb, in order to be eligible for the minimum level of means-tested support the parental income should not be greater than circa €30,000 pa, but it also depends on other factors, notably the number of dependants in the household.
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).
The grant is available to students who are ordinarily and legally resident in France.
There are also merit grants available for those with outstanding academic school results.
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.
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 deferred basis.
These loans are offered by most of the main banks with the State offering a guarantee of 70% of the loan. As a result, no parental guarantees are required.
This loan is called 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.
Students are also eligible for support with housing costs up to circa €100 per month available through the Caisses d'Allocations Familiales - CAF.
However, 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.
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.
A basic fee for an undergraduate course in 2013/14 is €183 per year; for a masters course it is €254 per year; for a doctorat it is €388 per year.
Some specialist institutions, such as the grandes écoles have charges substantially in excess of these rates.
In addition, you will be expected to pay a charge of €211 per year (2013/14) for health cover.
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 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, notably through the 'Erasmus' programme.