Tuition fees in state universities are among the lowest in Europe. The basic fee for a first-level degree is only 188 € a year, but most universities add significant administrative charges onto that. However the final bill is still relatively inexpensive. Basic fees for second-level degrees are 259 € a year and for third-level degrees they are 393 €. Specialized first-level degrees cost more. So an engineering degrees cost 611 € and medical degrees vary but average 542 € a year.
Health Insurance costs of a little more than 200 € are usually added to the basic fee.
The Grandes écoles have much higher fees. The range is 5.000 – 10.000 € a year, increasing to 15.000 € for engineering schools.
Private University fees are also higher. The typical range is 1.500 – 6.000 € a year. Fees at business schools, for example for MBA programmes, range from 4.500 to 7.000 € a year.
Living costs in France are around the European average. Accommodation is the largest expense, with a small studio costing 350 € a month in a smaller city and over 500 € in Paris. Some Universities have student housing, but this can be hard to get even though most French students live at home. If obtainable, such housing may be around 250 € a month, but don’t rely on being able to get a place. A mobile phone will cost around 30 € and internet services around the same per month.
Groceries can be expensive and basic food should cost 200 € with eating out, of course, costing much more. A take-out pizza is around 8 €, but a litre of wine can be less than 2 €. A plat de jour (special meal at mid-day only) will be around 10 €, but University cafeterias may be only 3 or 4 € for a hot meal. Public transport should be around 25 € with a student pass. Don’t forget to budget something for entertainment. Beer or a glass of wine at a bar both cost 3 to 5 € and a movie ticket around 8 €.
The government offers support based on family income through the bourse d'enseignement supérieur sur critères sociaux. The current cut-off level is 33.100 € annual family income. Students who are self-supporting due to family breakdown are also eligible.
This support is scaled over eight levels (0 to 7). At the lowest level (0), which is also open to some students above the family cut-off income, free tuition is provided, but no stipend. For the others, in addition to free tuition, stipends begin at 1000 € a year and rise to 5500 €. This is paid monthly over the ten months of the academic year. Students who study through the summer or international students who cannot work over the summer vacation period receive extended payments over twelve months. Students must be legally and regularly resident in France for these grants, so international students on visas would not be eligible.
Students may also receive support with housing costs up to around 100 € per month through the Caisses d'Allocations Familiales (CAF).
At some of the Grandes écoles students are considered to be civil servants and receive generous support. French and EU students at such schools receive free housing and an after-tax monthly stipend of 1.350 €.
International students wishing to study in France can apply for a variety of state scholarships. In all there are almost 700 scholarships available at all levels of study. The majority are state funded, but some are funded privately by individuals or corporations.
The French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs offers 100 million euro in support through a large number of scholarship schemes. Among the largest are the Eiffel Excellence Scholarship, the Major Excellence Programme, the Erasmus Mundus Programme and the Ile-de-France Masters Scholarship.
Students from some non-EU countries (India and Russia are two examples) can apply for Cooperation Scholarships through the French Embassy in that country.
Several of the Grandes écoles also directly offer scholarships to International students.
Scholarships in France typically pay all tuition fees plus a monthly stipend (paid over 10 months of the year) that ranges from 200 to 1.200 €, depending on the individual scholarship.
Banks give student loans through a government scheme, the Prêt étudiant garanti par l'État. Loans are for up to 1.,000 € are at low interest rates and parental guarantees are not requires as the state guarantees 70% of the loan. Such loans are available to French and also to EU/EEA students provided they will have spent five uninterrupted years in France by the conclusion of the loan.
These loans are for 10 years and payments can be deferred in part or completely during that period at the discretion of the student. Interest rates are very low and may even be 0% in some cases.
EU and non-EU students have the right to work up to 964 hours a year to support their studies. Their university must be a participant in the national student health-care plan. Non-EU students must also hold a valid residency permit.
The French government helps students find summer jobs by linking students to various non-government and government jobs for the summer. In addition work is often available in tourist regions at hotels, cafes, clubs and restaurants. Summer work in the agricultural sector is also possible.