Scholarships in France. What is important to know?

  • Bourses d'études is the common name for all scholarships and grants in France. There is no difference between them. Another term — l'aide — refers to financial assistance. There is also allocation, but it is the least used word.
  • The size of scholarships varies from 217 USD to 1,084 USD per month and depends on its source: the government, a university or a private organization.
  • Scholarships are designed mainly for graduate and doctoral students. Undergraduates have the opportunity to receive funding, but only from the university.
  • Tuition discounts are represented by so-called exonérations partielles in some state universities and by discounts in grandes écoles (higher schools). In the first case, non-EU students pay lower fees: 184 USD/year for Bachelor's degrees and 263 USD/year for Master's degrees. In the second case, the discount depends on the school and usually does not exceed 10-20% of the tuition fee.
  • The minimum amount of money needed to comfortably live in France is 1,300 USD/month in Paris and no less than 867 USD/month in other cities. Scholarships that can cover tuition and living at the same time are very rare, especially in the capital.

Scholarships for foreign students in France

French government annually allocates more than a million euros for scholarships and financial aid for students. The size of a scholarship is highly dependent on its source.

  • State scholarships are the largest. The French government not only awards grants, but also covers all admission costs. One of the most popular government scholarships is the Eiffel excellence scholarship program.
  • University scholarships can be obtained at any institution of higher education: a university or a grande école. The amount of the scholarship is determined by the university itself. It usually ranges from 217 USD to 759 USD per month. Depending on the city, such payments can partially or completely cover the student's living expenses and, less often — the tuition.
  • Scholarships from companies and non-profit organizations are usually the hardest to obtain. Many of them require EU citizenship or a year of residence in France.
Tuition fees in France
Technically, there are no tuition fees in public universities in France. But there is a mandatory administrative fee (frais d'inscription). For students from countries that are not part of the Eurozone, the following rates apply:
  • Undergraduate (Licence) — 3,002 USD/year;
  • Master's degree (Master) — 4,085 USD/year;
  • Doctorate (Doctorat) — 412 USD/year.
Private universities and grandes écoles set the tuition fees themselves. The average fee is 8,669 USD/year. In business schools it can go up to 21,673 USD/year. Some state universities in France have a system of partial benefits (l'exonération partielle). This means that foreign students pay the same registration fees as citizens of the Eurozone:
  • Undergraduate (Licence) — 184 USD/year;
  • Master's degree (Master) — 263 USD/year;
For PhD studies (Doctorat), the price is 412 USD/year regardless of the student's citizenship. It is better to find information about the availability of partial benefits at the university on its official website. The universities that have such offers include, for example, Aix-Marseille, Paris-Saclay and Lyon 1, 2, and 3. Partial benefits exist only in public universities. All private education institutions and grandes écoles set their own tuition fees. There, students can get a discount. As a rule, it’s equal to 10-20% of the tuition fee, usually 10%. Applicants with high academic performance, a good motivation letter and a good resume have better chances to receive the scholarship, provided that they submit the documents early.
Cost of living in France
Rent per month in the uptown940 USD509 USD478 USD
Rent per month in the city centre1,322 USD665 USD613 USD
Food238 USD145 USD135 USD
Transport81 USD53 USD62 USD
Other expenses236 USD184 USD207 USD
Total1,495-1,879 USD892-1,048 USD882-1,018 USD
The French government provides financial assistance to people who rent accommodation. It is called l'aide au logement and international students can get it too. To qualify for this type of assistance, you must meet the following conditions:
  • Have French citizenship or a residence permit (titre de séjour);
  • Rent accommodation;
  • Not be the landlord’s relative;
  • Have a total income (salary, scholarship) below a certain threshold.
Many international students apply for l'aide au logement when they come to France. You can use the CAF calculator to find out the chances of getting it.

How to get a scholarship in France?

The specific requirements for the scholarship depend on the program. However, there are several main criteria that will be relevant to all cases:

  • Academic performance is extremely important for receiving a scholarship. It is necessary to have high scores in specialized subjects and a GPA not lower than 4 out of 5. Participation in scientific projects, publications, etc. is encouraged.
  • The research project plays a huge role at the Master's and doctoral levels. The research subject is considered very important. It is necessary to present a study that will be interesting and relevant in the French academic environment. In order to better prepare and increase the chances of getting a scholarship, a student should contact a potential academic advisor at a French university in advance.
  • A letter of motivation is a document that explains to the committee why a student is worthy of being awarded their scholarship. Therefore, it requires special attention. A good motivation letter can compensate for a low GPA and the absence of great achievements. A bad motivation letter can easily become a reason for refusal.
  • Paperwork directly affects the chances of an applicant to receive a scholarship. In France, officers are strict with documents — everything must be done correctly.
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Government scholarships in France

Scholarships from French embassies abroad

Almost half of all government funded scholarships for foreign students are awarded by the French Embassies. The amount of the scholarship and its duration depends on the specific country. Usually these scholarships cover:

  • Tuition fees at a university;
  • Student insurance;
  • Campus France administrative fees;
  • Visa fees.

For detailed information applicants are advised to contact the Cooperation and Cultural Action Departments of the French Embassy in their respective countries.

Documents for scholarships available at French embassies abroad
Eligibility criteria and requirements for French embassy scholarships vary from country to country. Generally, applicants are required to present the following documents:
  1. Letter of admission or conditional admission to the university;
  2. Proof of language proficiency for French or English depending on the training program;
  3. Reference letter;
  4. CV;
  5. Motivation letter;
  6. A copy of the previous diploma and its translation.

Eiffel Scholarship program of Excellence

This government program is meant for graduate and PhD students. Only non-French nationals are eligible for the scholarship. They need to be enrolled or expecting to be enrolled in Master's / doctoral program at a French university in one of four areas of studies:

  • Engineering;
  • Economics and Management;
  • Politics;
  • Law.
Scholarship amount1,280 USD/month1,517 USD/month
Scholarship duration24-36 months12 months
Max. age for participation in the program25 years30 years

In addition to regular payments, the Eiffel scholarship exempts the student from registration fees in public universities and pays for tickets to France. However, it does not cover tuition fees for paid programs.

Candidates cannot apply for the Eiffel Scholarship directly. The program accepts only applications submitted by French educational institutions. Therefore, at first, candidates apply to a French university. If their dossier meets the requirements of the university, they receive a questionnaire. It must be filled out and sent to the university along with the documents listed in it. The procedure can be done at only one educational institution. Later, universities or grandes écoles form the lists of candidates from the best foreign students: up to 40 people per one field of study. As a rule, the application process starts in September-October. Announcement of the results begins in April, but may continue until the end of May[1].

Erasmus Plus

Erasmus+ is a European funding programme. Its goal is to increase the mobility of students and researchers not only within EU borders, but all over the world. It gives them an opportunity to study in a different country from 2 to 12 months. The Programme offers scholarships for students at Bachelor, Master and PhD levels. Participants of Erasmus+ are awarded with grants and exempted from tuition fees and registration in a host institution. The average amount of the scholarship is 975 USD per month, but it largely depends on both the sending and host country[2].

University scholarships in France

There are scholarships in almost every higher education institution in France: both in universities and grandes écoles. The amount of funding depends on the specific institution, but on average does not exceed 759 USD/month. Below are examples of the scholarships with the best coverage.

Emile Boutmy scholarship at Sciences Po

Institute for Political Studies (Institut d'études politiques de Paris) — Science Po — offers scholarships to international students. To qualify for this grant, you must:

  • Be an undergraduate or graduate student of Science Po;
  • Have the citizenship of a non-EU country[3].

The Emile Boutmy scholarship can be awarded in several forms. The largest payment for undergraduates is a grant of 7,911 USD/year for three years, plus 5,418 USD/year for living expenses. There are also smaller options:

  • 7,911 USD/year for three years;
  • 5,418 USD/year for three years;
  • 3,251 USD/year for three years.

Masters receive a scholarship of 10,837 USD/year or 5,418 USD/year for two years[3].

Students apply for the scholarship during the general admission procedure to Sciences Po. When applying, you need to indicate that you want to participate in the competition for the Emile Boutmy scholarship. The committee selects the best candidates based on the dossier: high GPA, academic achievements, excellent CV and motivation letter. Another prerequisite is a declaration of the family financial situation and the number of children in the family who are currently getting an education[3]. The scholarship is received by a maximum of 40 students from 13 thousand applications.

École normale supérieure Scholarship in Paris

Every year, the École Normale Supérieure in Paris (ENS) offers up to 20 scholarships as a part of the international selection program (Sélection Internationale) for Master’s students. To participate in the competition for this scholarship, you must:

  • Have completed at least 3 years of study at a university outside of France;
  • Be under the age of 26;
  • Have proof that you were absent from France for more than 10 months during the year of application and the previous one.

A scholarship of 1,084 USD/month is awarded for two or three years of study. Additionally, the school guarantees accommodation in one of its campuses[4].

To submit documents for scientific specialities (Sciences), you must know English or French, and for humanitarian (Lettres) only French is applicable. The committee selects candidates based on their dossier. Those who have passed the first stage are invited to Paris for written and oral exams. According to the results, scholarship recipients are determined[4]. On average, about 7% of candidates get approved.

Ampère scholarships at the École normale supérieure in Lyon

École normale supérieure in Lyon offers scholarships to international graduate students in the areas of science, humanities and social sciences. The amount of the scholarship is 1,084 USD/month for 1 year of Master's degree studies (Master 1 or Master 2)[5]. All foreign students with a degree equivalent to at least a French Licence can participate in the competition. The competition for this scholarship is not as high as at the École Normale du Paris. However, applicants still need to have a high GPA and noteworthy academic achievements. All details of the requirements and the application process can be found on the school website.

Benefits and discounts for students in France

In addition to scholarships from individual universities in France, there are discounts and benefits available to all students.

  • Transport. Students between the ages of 12 and 27 can purchase a special cardcarte jeune de la SNCF. It gives you the opportunity to travel at reduced prices on any transport, including a discount of up to 50% on TGV in some regions.
  • Museums. For students from EU countries, visiting museums is free. For others, the price is reduced by several times. In France, where there are museums at every turn, this is a very good advantage.
  • Movies and theatres. Students enjoy a discount when purchasing tickets, just don’t forget to show your student card.
  • Medicine. Each university has a Student Health Service (SUMPPS). All students can be examined and consulted by a doctor. Some of the consultations are free.
  • Food. There are special student cafes scattered all over France, Resto U. The cost of a full lunch with dessert there is 4 USD. Some of them are open in the evenings and on weekends.

Independent scholarships in France

Grant "Women in Science"

Within the framework of the international project L'oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science, the French corporation L'Oreal awards 280 grants annually to female researchers around the world. Graduate students and postdocs in the field of engineering, exact and natural sciences can participate in the program. The largest grant is 16,255 USD. It is given to the 15 most talented candidates[6]. Participation in the competition is open to students of all nationalities. The grant is awarded based on academic achievements, publications, and assessment of the research project.

Grant from the Francophone University Agency

The Francophone University Agency (L'Agence universitaire de la Francophonie, AUF) is a global network of higher education institutions that teach partly or completely in French. In order to preserve and increase the role of the French language in the world, this organization awards grants to young researchers. They are designed for graduate and doctoral students and cover 1-2 semesters of exchange studies. Only students from AUF member universities can participate in the competition. Detailed information on grants, conditions and application dates can be found in one of the member universities or on the organization's website.

How to find a scholarship in France?

Scholarships in France should only be looked for on trusted sites. There are two main options:

  • Campus France CatalogCampus Bourses — allows you to choose a scholarship according to individual parameters. They can be filtered by type of payment, source of funding, level and direction of study. This is a convenient scholarship base, but it is not always updated on time.
  • The French Embassies publish a complete list of government scholarships available to local citizens on their websites.

A valuable resource will also be the official website of the university which the applicant is trying to enter. It always provides the most relevant information.

Scholarship application with UniPage

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