Scholarships in France are funded from a variety of sources. By far the biggest single provider is the national government and various regional councils. Government scholarships are in two categories: Those for students who are French or permanent French residents and those for international students. Different ministries are responsible for these two different categories, and for international scholarships administration may be through French embassies. Some universities and schools also have their own scholarship schemes for both national and international students. Private funding is also available, chiefly for higher-level programmes involving research.
The French Ministry of Higher Education and Research, called the Ministère de l'Education nationale, de l'Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche, administers almost all state-funded scholarships for French students. The same scholarships are available for foreign nationals who have been resident for tax purposes in France for at least two years and under some circumstances for EU nationals in general. These may be awarded on the basis of needs, merit or affirmative action for certain social groups or fields of study. Doctoral students are often supported by being made effective employees of the Ministry.
International scholarships are controlled by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. Individual Higher Education Institutes administer scholarships that they provide directly.
The conditions and requirements vary considerably for the different levels of degrees. Fees are often included, but may not be, or must be paid first and then reimbursed. A monthly stipend (paid over 10 months of the year) that ranges from 200 to 1.200 € is the normal range of support, but varies according to the individual scholarship.
To be eligible for a scholarship, students must normally be under a certain age which ranges between 25 and 30 in the majority of cases. They must have been accepted by the HEI they wish to study at. EU and EEA students do not require a visa, but in some cases must have established residency for a minimum period of time. International students normally require a visa, which is applied for at the French embassy in their own country. Such students must have their qualifications recognized as being sufficient to enter the level of programme they are applying for.
French students pay for health insurance as part of their tuition, but for non-French nationals the situation is different. EU students use the European Health Card to access care, which is paid for by their own country. International students may need private insurance.
Doctoral students are normally supported for the research by a research grant, which is actually a salary paid by the Ministry of Research as a fixed-duration work contact for three years. These students must be under 30, French or EU and must have fulfilled their military obligations, or have a two-year deferment. The doctoral studies director makes the application on behalf of the student.
International students have a variety of scholarship available from the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, which offers more than 100 million euro in support through a large number of scholarship schemes. These are administered locally in France and also through the French embassies in each country. Scholarships awarded by the variousGrandes Écoles and some other Higher Education Institutions are administered directly by the schools themselves. In addition, some particular scholarships, again government administered, are available for countries which have signed agreements with France.
The majority of French students utilize the government grant system to access scholarships. Among the largest government scholarship programmes for foreign students are the Eiffel Excellence Scholarship, the Major Excellence Programme, the Erasmus Mundus Programme, Cooperation Scholarships and the Ile-de-France Masters Scholarship.