There are several programmes funded by the French government to provide support to students for tuition fees, living costs and housing. Some students are even state employees. Students who need to borrow the costs of their schooling can apply for loans from a government-guaranteed system. With tuition fees already low, the majority of students receive significant support while studying.
There is a central programme which is the chief government source of student grants. Eligibility is based on the income of the student’s family or the student’s own income if they come from a broken family. There is an additional and separate programme specifically for student-housing costs. As well, at some of the Grandes Écoles, students are salaried public servants. For students who cannot obtain a grant or who still need additional finances, there is also a government-funded student loan scheme.
The family-income cut-off for the government programme is 33.000 €. The level of support is graded over eight levels, from 0 to 7. At the lowest level, that is, for students at or just below the cut-off, only tuition fees are covered by this programme. In some circumstances students above the cut-off may however still be eligible for tuition fees support. As income falls students move up the scale and receive increasing support for living costs. Annual payments begin at 1.000 € and rise to 5.500 € as family-income falls. These payments are made over the ten months of the academic year, but if students are in summer programmes they are extended for the full twelve months at the ten-month rate. There is a separate programme providing housing support of up to 100 € a month.
Students accepted at Grandes Écoles will automatically be processed into the public service if they are eligible. They receive free-housing in school-owned property and a monthly stipend of 1.350 €.
Loans are available for up to 15.000 € at low interest rates. No guarantee is required as the state guarantees 70% of the loan. Loans are for ten years and the repayment plan is entirely at the discretion of the student, so, for example, no payments need to be made during the study period.
To be eligible for government programmes students must be legal and regular residents of France. EU citizens planning to apply for the scheme would therefore need to establish residence before applying. This is easily done under the freedom of movement provisions of the EU.EU/EEA students are eligible for the guaranteed-loan scheme, with the condition that they will have spent five uninterrupted years in France by the conclusion of the loan.
Non-EU students would need to obtain residency, which may not be possible, to be eligible for either a grant or a loan, so these are difficult for non-EU students to obtain. Some international students can however qualify for the grant and they may receive full support throughout the summer period if their visas do not allow them to work. For international students who are ineligible for grants there are government scholarships to effectively replace the grants, so study in France is still feasible for all international students.
Grants in France through the bourse d'enseignement supérieur sur critères sociaux are provided and administered by the national government, through the Ministère de l'Education nationale. In a similar way, government housing support is provided through the Caisses d'Allocations Familiales.
The student-loan scheme, the Prêt étudiant garanti par l'État, is guaranteed to 70% by the government, but the actual funding is obtained by application to one of the various banks in France.