The cost of studying at a university in France

This guide outlines the cost of fees, accommodation, lifestyle and financial assistance options if you are planning to study in France

December 21 2017
The price of studying at a university in France

How much does it cost to study in France? If you are interested in studying in France, one of the most important things to consider is how much everything is going to cost. This essential guide breaks down the cost of every aspect of university life to ensure that you have everything covered.  

Note that prices and exchange rates are correct at the time of publication and may vary from those shown here. 

Tuition fees

Tuition fees in France are relatively low compared with the rest of Europe. Most higher education institutions in France are funded by the state, therefore there is usually a nominal fee depending on the level of study.

The average public university in France in 2017 charged €189 (£167) per year for a bachelor’s degree, €259 (£230) for a master’s degree, €393 (£348) for a PhD and €611 (£541) to attend an engineering school.

Universities in France are known to levy administration charges, which causes some elevation in the price – however, the figure is far lower than in other countries such as the UK.

To study at one of France’s highly selective private grandes écoles or grands établissments, you could pay between €500-€600 (£443-£532) per year, however some charge up to €10,000 (£8,864) per year. Some only offer postgraduate degrees, such as Ecole Normal Supérieure in Paris, which expects students to attend two years of preparatory school or to transfer across after two or more years of undergraduate study. It costs €750 (£665) per year and charges international students the same as domestic students – like most French universities. 

A private institution that teaches engineering, management or business can cost up to €30,000 (£26,592) per year. 

The average bachelor’s degree takes three to four years, so students should expect to spend €567 (£503) or for an average two-year master’s degree, €518 (£459).


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Accommodation costs 

Accommodation in France is cheaper than in the UK, and the general average is €200-€300 (£177-£266) per month. Students have several options when it comes to living; student halls of residence, a shared apartment or a homestay. 

The average rental price of a studio apartment (for one or two people) is €457 (£405) per month and €542 (£480) for a one-bedroom apartment. Apartments are typically measured in metres squared and the average rent per square metre in Paris is €15 (£13), or €7 (£6.20) per square metre elsewhere in France. 

A homestay is €200-€800 (£177-£709), depending on the location – which includes at least one meal a day.  

French universities offer accommodation called Cités-U cheaply (some as little as €120 or £106 per month outside of Paris) and they are managed by CROUS, the regional branch of CNOUS the national student service agency. The demand is very high and is given out based on social criteria or for students on an exchange or with a scholarship. There are also several other private organisations that offer good value student residences, such as Résidences Estudines, CLEF and ADELE. 

Students can (and are advised to) apply for a grant from the local Caisse d’Allocation Familiale (CAF) to receive a student rebate for part of their rent. You may not always be eligible for it but it costs nothing to apply and students can receive up to 35 per cent of their rent back monthly. 

Other essential student costs 

The average monthly electricity, gas and internet budget is €60 (£53) and an average internet connection costs €25 (£22) per month, split between tenants. Books and other study materials are €50 (£44) a month and paying into a health insurance mutual fund is highly recommended and costs €20-€50 (£17-£44) per month, depending on the cover. Students from European Economic Area countries should be covered with a European health insurance card (EHIC).

Monthly phone bills are an average of €25 (£22), however, some online deals are as little as €10 (£11) per month. 

A litre of petrol is €1.33 (£1.18) and a monthly travel card or transport pass is about €70 (£62), although for single forms of transport, they range from €17-€33.

Single-journey bike rental is popular in many French cities. A full year of access to the Vélib system (including unlimited 30 minute journeys all over the city) is €19 (£16). The average cost of a return journey on the TGV to another city is €25 (£22), when booked in advance. There is a youth discount railcard that costs €50 (£44) and can be worth it if regular cross-country travel is likely.

It is always worth researching student travelcard options, as for example in Paris, an unlimited Carte Imagine R is €38 per month, compared with a typical €70 (£62) per month for non-students.    


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Lifestyle 

Grocery shopping in France is slightly more expensive than in the UK. The average cost of a weekly shop is €62 (£54), or €250 (£221) per month. A meal out in France is on average €12 (£10.64) and a cinema ticket is typically €9 (£7.98), although there is always a cheaper student ticket price, averaging at €6 (£5). A Big Mac is €4.47 with a pint of beer at €5 (£4.43) and a glass of wine at €4 (£3.55). The average monthly gym membership costs €37.70 (£33.42) and a gig ticket or club entry is an average €15 (£13.30).

Most students should budget €600-€800 (£531-£709) per month to cover the cost of food, transportation and housing, although this will probably be slightly higher in a larger city such as Paris.

In accordance with French law, any foreign student who wishes to study in France must be able to prove that they have sufficient resources: €615 (£545) per month or €7,318 (£6,486) per year, to support themselves without working. This is more of an estimation, as outside of Paris, €700-€850 (£620-£753) is recommended and it is closer to €1,100 (£975) in Paris.

But with careful budgeting a student could live on €600 (£532) a month. An excellent provision for students is the CROUS system – student university cafeterias serve three course menus for as little as €3 (£2.66).

What financial support is available?

The low cost of education in France means that non-Europeans from countries such as Canada, the Americas and Australia don’t need help to pay for tuition.

Scholarships that include a stipend for living expenses are usually reserved for students participating in Erasmus exchanges and a select few engineering, business and medical students from former French-speaking colonies.

There are few scholarships available for international students with the help of the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs or your country’s French Embassy. Here is a list of scholarships available to international students looking to study in France.

France is one of the best countries for student discounts and it is always worth asking if there is a price reduction, whether you are in a restaurant, clothes shops, gallery or museum.

Many galleries and museums are completely free to under-26s. SNCF also offer a Carte Jeune for discounts on train travel and car-sharing websites such as blablacar.fr are great value and very popular.

Read more in this series

The cost of studying at a university in the United States
The cost of studying at a university in the UK
The cost of studying at a university in Germany
The cost of studying at a university in Canada
The cost of studying at a university in Australia
The cost of studying at a university in the Netherlands
The cost of studying at a university in New Zealand

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