There are several, means-tested, school grants available in France. These are:
- the ARS
- colleège grant
- lycée grant
- school social funds
- local authority grants
- disability grant
The ARS, the Allocation Rentrée Scolaire, often known as the "aide à la rentrée"
This is means tested but the income ceilings are quite generous so you may be entitled to this even if you won't qualify for other grants. The ARS is a one off sum paid in August to help you equip your child with clothes, books, stationary etc for the coming academic year.
Children between 6 and 18 in full time education or in apprenticeship training are eligible and the amount you get depends on your income, specifically your tax declaration, of two years previously. i.e. your grant for this coming summer 2012 will depend on your income for 2010 as declared in your tax return of 2011. The income ceilings for the 2012-2013 rentrée are
- 23,200€ for one child
- 28,554€ for 2 children
- 33,908€ for 3 children
- and + 5,354€ for each subsequent child
If your circumstances have deteriorated dramatically over the past two years, following loss of employment, divorce etc., you may be entitled to a grant based on your current circumstances - contact your local CAF.
HOW MUCH IS IT?
The amount you receive depends on the age of your child/children: for children aged 6-10 years the sum is €287,84; for those 11-14 it is €303,68; for those aged 15-18 years it is €314.24.
HOW TO APPLY
If you are already registered with the CAF (for child benefits, of example) you do not need to apply as long as you have submitted your 2010 tax declaration.
If you are not a CAF allocataire you will need to visit your local CAF or download an application form here http://www.caf.fr/cataloguears/bas.htm
The grant is credited automatically to your bank account in August for children aged 6 to 16. For those who will be aged 16-18 during the academic year, the grant is credited once you have returned an attestation de scolarité (available from the school) to your local CAF office
For children born after the 31 December 2006 and already in primary school, you will also need to send in an attestation de scolarité.
French Collège Grant - Bourse de Collège - is a means tested grant available to children attending collège, lower secondary school, and the criteria are much tighter than for the ARS and the grant is not huge. Like the ARS, eligibility is determined by your net income two years previously as well as the number of dependent children you have. Again, it is worth enquiring about this grant if your income has fallen dramatically in the past two years.
Depending on your income and circumstances you could receive from between 80,91€ to 350,01€ per year per child, paid in 3 installments over the year.
HOW TO APPLY
You need to apply for this via your children's collège - ask at the secretariat for the forms or download the here http://www.education.gouv.fr/cid88/aides-financieres.html and then hand them in to your school secretariat.
French Lycée Grants - Bourses de Lycée
Again, the basic grant depends on your income and family circumstances but, importantly, being in receipt of this grant - being a 'boursier' opens the way for other grants. A complex system of points is used to assess each application based on your income two years prior to your application and, again, if your income has fallen drastically it is worth inquiring at your child's lycée about your possible eligibility.
If your child is accepted as a boursier, they may also be entitled to claim:
- Prime d’entrée -a grant payable at the start of each school year at lycée (except if your child is redoubling - repeating a year)
- Prime d’equipement - a grant payable when the child enters lycée to meet the costs of purchasing certain items of equipment and materials
- Prime à la qualification - payable to students taking the Certificat d’aptitude Professionnelle (CAP) or Brevet d’études Professionnelles (BEP).
- Prime à l’internat - payable to students who are boarding to help with boarding costs and payable in three installments over the academic year.
Apply direct to your lycée or download an application form here ftp://trf.education.gouv.fr/pub/edutel/prat/formul/11319v06.pdf
Merit Grants or Bourses au mérite. This grant is automatically available to pupils starting lycée who are were entitled to a bourse de collège and who obtained high marks in their Brevet des Collèges. The grant is made by the Inspector d’academie, but initial inquiries should be addressed to the lycée. It is payable in three annual installments and continues throughout lycée as long as the child's results and progress remain satisfactory.
LOCAL AUTHORITY GRANTS
Your local département, and sometimes your mairie, may offer financial assistance for things such as school trips, cantine meals or high transport costs - ask at your marie, child's school or check the website of your Conseil Regional.
SCHOOL SOCIAL FUNDS
Both collèges and lycées generally have funds set aside to help families who are in financial difficulty cover the costs of trips, equipment, activities and equipment. Enquire at the school secretariat or ask for an appointment with the school social worker - assistant sociale.
DISABILITY GRANT - the Bourse d'enseignement d'adaptation is payable to primary school pupils and those at collège who may be disabled or have other major psychological or physical problems and is to assist with the costs and difficulties that may be associated with adapting to school life.
The formal assessment is carried out by the Maison Départementale des Personnes Handicapées (MDPH) and if you think you may be eligible then you should speak to your school. If your child suffers from at least a 50% level of incapacity, and is unable to attend a mainstream school, then you may be eligible for a special educational allowance called Allocation d’Education de l’Enfant Handicappé (AEEH). To apply you need to speak to your local MDPH or CAF.