Starting in autumn 2019, international students will have to pay higher tuition fees at French universities. This is a drastic change from an effectively free tuition system, where students needed to pay only around 200 euros per year. At the same time, though, there will be three times as many government-sponsored scholarships for foreign students.
In our guide, we have compiled all relevant information about tuition fees at French universities:
Yes - if you are a citizen or permanent resident of a country of the EEA (European Economic Area) or Switzerland. The EEA includes all countries of the EU (European Union) as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Although studying in France is then not entirely “free”, you will only be charged a very small amount when you study at a public university.
However, if you are not a citizen of an EEA country or Switzerland, or already a permanent resident, you will have to pay higher tuition fees in France.
You will also have to pay higher tuition fees at a private university.
Students have to pay higher tuition fees if they are citizens of countries that are not part of the EEA, or Switzerland. The EEA includes all EU countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
All other international students will have to pay higher tuition fees. For instance, if you are from Africa or Asia, your tuition fees will be higher than for French students. Campus France, the official French government agency, offers additional details.
The tuition fees at public universities are set by the French government and are the same across the country.
If you are a citizen or already a permanent resident of a country within the EEA, not much has changed - you will still be charged very low amounts for your tuition:
However, all other international students will now be charged higher amounts. The new tuition fees for international students, starting September 2019, are:
Note that the values above refer only to public universities; the cost of tuition at private universities can be higher. They generally range from 3,000 to 20,000 euros per year.
Yes, and the French government announced that they would increase the availability of scholarships alongside the new higher tuition fees. The official CampusBourses tool offers an overview of grants scholarships to study in France.
You usually have to pay the whole annual tuition fee at the beginning of an academic year, i.e. September.
As an international student from outside the EU, you may need the VLS-TS visa (“étudiant”). The visa not only entitles you to live and study in France, but you can also work up to 964 hours per year (20 hours per week) and travel freely in the countries of the Schengen area - which is a great chance to explore Europe.
When applying for the VLS-TS visa, you will need to pay 99 euros. This amount will be due after your university application, when you have been accepted by the school - and you will need the visa before you can travel to France for your studies.
Once you arrive in France, you need to validate the visa within 3 months. That costs another 60 euros.
Student life in France doesn’t have to be expensive. Even in cities like Bordeaux, Lyon or Toulouse you can get by with 850 to 1,000 euros per month, including accommodation. That is still moderate for European levels. In some smaller towns you might spend even less. But the exception is Paris, the capital: expect to spend 1,250 to 1,400 euros per month at the very least - and consider yourself extremely lucky if you can score a place in a students’ hall of residence.
Universities in France enjoy a high reputation for research and teaching. Institutions like École Polytechnique or Sciences Po regularly rank high, among the best universities in Europe and the world. If you’re interested in details you can check out the international rankings of French universities.
Traditionally, most universities set their application deadlines between February and April for degrees starting in autumn of the same year. However, in line with France’s most recent reforms for international students, things may be managed differently from 2019 onwards. Consult with the universities to which you want to apply to be absolutely sure.
If you are a citizen of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland you won’t be affected by France’s new tuition fees - but in any case, you have plenty of other options in Europe where you won’t have to pay tuition fees. Germany, Austria, Sweden or Finland are popular choices.
If you are a citizen of a country outside the EEA, there aren’t many countries in Europe where you can study for free. Germany is the most popular option. In Norway, universities are technically for free, but the cost of living are so much higher than elsewhere that it might be more affordable to choose a cheaper country where universities charge tuition. Austria or Poland are affordable alternatives with modest tuition fees of 1,500 to 2,000 euros per year.
If you want more details, check out our guide to study tuition-free.
This article was last updated on 29 November 2018.