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How to get grants and housing assistance as a student in France

Find out how to get higher education grants, scholarships, and housing assistance for 2021/2022, plus APL, COVID-19 support, and more.

5 min read

As a student in France, you can access various types of government financial aid to support yourself during your studies. However, the rules and eligibility requirements can be difficult to understand and navigate. Here, we explain the different types of financial support in France—from higher education grants and scholarships to housing assistance, as well as the eligibility requirements and various documents you’ll need for the 2021/2022 school year.

Financial support for students

France boasts a wide variety of grants and financial assistance for its students. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Higher education grants based on social criteria (BCS)
  • Merit scholarships
  • International travel grants
  • Emergency grants
  • Housing assistance (APL)
  • Regional grants

The two most common forms of support for students are the BCS grant and the APL housing assistance. If you’re interested in applying, read on to get all the information you need concerning the process and eligibility criteria for the 2021/2022 academic year.

BCS grants

You’re most likely eligible to receive a BCS grant if you meet the following requirements:

  • You’re under 28 as of September 1, 2021 upon submitting your first application
  • You’re enrolled full-time at a higher education institution or training program authorized to receive grant recipients, in France or in a member state of the European Union. 
  • Your income is below specific thresholds
  • You have French nationality, are from a country in the European Union, or meet specific criteria if you are non-European

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Income criteria for BCS grants 

Access to a BCS grant depends on the following three points:

1.    Your parents’ or legal guardian’s income, which must not exceed a certain threshold

2.    Your family’s dependence on their household’s income

3.    The distance between your home and place of study

These criteria will determine your tier—there are eight tiers in total, ranging from 0 to 7. Your tier dictates the amount of annual support you’re eligible to receive, with a maximum amount of €6,815 per year.

To check your eligibility for the BCS grant, visit the CROUS website

How to prepare your CROUS file

To benefit from the BCS scholarship, you must complete a Student Social File (DSE) online for the CROUS organization in your region. This will also allow you to apply for student housing assistance for the university's residence hall. At minimum, you’ll need the following documents to complete your CROUS file:

  • Proof of enrolment in a study program
  • Your parents’ or guardian’s 2020 tax declaration, based on their income from 2019

Keep in mind that you may need to submit additional documents. More information can be found on the CROUS website. Once you’re approved, you’ll get your payment on 5th of the month, from September through June. Here are the deadlines for submitting your CROUS file:

Submission deadline: May 15, 2021.

CROUS response date: June 29, 2021 (by email or text)

How to get housing assistance

The second most common form of financial support for students is housing assistance from either the CAF (Caisse des Allocations Familiales) or the MSA (Mutualité Sociale Agricole). There are three types of assistance available to students:

  • APL (Personalized housing assistance) for subsidized housing
  • ALS (Social housing allowance) for non-subsidized housing
  • ALF (Family housing allowance) for students with dependents

Who is eligible for APL assistance?

All students can apply for APL assistance regardless of their grant or scholarship status. This is because your parents’ or guardian’s income won’t be taken into account—unless they pay real-estate tax, in which case you won’t be eligible. You’ll need to meet the following conditions for receiving APL assistance:

  • You have French nationality or a valid residence permit
  • You are renting an appropriately sized accommodation of more than 9m2 
  • You are not related to the person who owns your flat
  • Your income is below a certain threshold

You can find more information on the APL and the different types of housing assistance here

When should I apply for APL assistance?

Unlike student grants, applications for housing assistance don’t have a submission deadline because their allocation depends on the date your lease is signed. The grant can be collected from the second month after you move in. The criteria that determines the amount you’ll receive are as follows:

  • Rent amount
  • Type of rental property
  • Geographical location
  • Your income over the last 12 months
  • Who else lives in your household (family members, dependents, etc.)

It may take up to two months from your application date to receive your APL payment. Housing assistance can’t be backdated, so it’s important to send your file as soon as you sign your lease in order to benefit from it for as long as possible.

Here are some helpful links: APL online application APL eligibility checker

Other forms of financial support for students

As a student, you may be eligible for more targeted financial support, such as the following:

  • Merit scholarships—designed for students who received high marks on their high school exams
  • Grants for diversity in public service—for students preparing for a public service entrance exam
  • International travel grants—for students who want to study or complete an internship abroad
  • Emergency grants—designed to help students experiencing difficult situations
  • Travel grants for studying abroad during the first year of a master’s degree
  • Regional grants


Student grants and COVID-19—what’s changed?

Since January 2021, France has put the following initiatives in place to support students through the COVID-19 health crisis:

  • €1 meals—From January 25, 2021, all students, including those without a scholarship, can benefit from two meals per day for €1 each in university cafeterias.
  • Changes to the higher education scholarship—If your income has fallen as a result of the crisis, you can have your grant application reassessed by updating your Student Social File (DSE)
  • Extension of rights, including student grants, unemployment, etc.—This pertains to all citizens whose rights have been impacted due to COVID-19.
  • Psychological check-ups—Students who have been psychologically affected by the COVID-19 crisis can benefit from free sessions with a psychologist or psychiatrist

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Manage your student budget easily with N26

As a 100% mobile bank, our free bank account is perfect for students looking to manage their finances easily. Make online transactions right from the N26 app, receive instant push notifications when your grant or housing assistance payments arrive, schedule rent payments in advance so that they’re always on time, and access no-fee ATM withdrawals in France and throughout the eurozone. Trying to save? Check out all our tips for saving money as a student.

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