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Foreign students: what assistance and schemes are there for accommodation?


Many European and non-European students choose to study in France. Every year, several hundred thousand of them move to one of the many French university towns. Taking out student insurance, applying for scholarships and finding a flat or a room are the main administrative tasks students have to handle when they arrive. Very often, financial difficulties are added to the stresses of the first few weeks. What kind of assistance are students entitled to? What do you know about housing assistance for foreign students? A brief overview of housing assistance and schemes dedicated to young people who come from Europe or further afield to study in France.


Student housing assistance: the APL

Just like French students, foreign students can receive the APL (Aide personnalisée au logement). This subsidy allows them to offset the cost of French housing, such as a room, a studio, a house or a flat. The APL is calculated according to two criteria: the amount of rent and the student's resources.

To obtain this assistance, foreign students must contact the Caisse d'allocations familiales (CAF). Initially, they are asked to apply online, via the CAF website. Note that the file can only be compiled once the accommodation has been obtained. In addition, the first subsidy payment will be made with a one-month delay, i.e. 30 days after the date of signing the lease.

The documents you need to apply for APL are the following:

  • The lease (the housing contract)
  • Proof of address provided by the owner
  • An identity card or passport with a certified translation into French
  • Proof of enrolment at school or university for EU students
  • A residence permit for non-EU students
  • Proof of registration with the Social Security system or the European Health Insurance Card for EU students
  • The RIB (statement with bank details on) of a French bank account

Please note that not all accommodation is eligible for APL, so it's worth checking before you sign the lease. Only the owner is able to provide this information. In addition, the sooner the application for housing assistance is submitted to the CAF, the sooner the student receives the allowance. Please note that the amount received fluctuates according to the resources reviewed each year.


Other housing assistance and schemes for foreign students

In addition to the APL, there are other allowances to help with accommodation.

  • The ALS (allocation de logement social
  • The ALF (allocation de logement familial), if you have a dependant and are a tenant in a non-approved home
  • Loca-pass: a scheme to help you settle into your new home, enabling you to obtain a zero-interest loan for your security deposit required by the owner of the home you are renting. Foreign students also have access to this. The amount requested by the owner is cashed, but will be reimbursed as soon as the inventory of fixtures of the accommodation is done. The repayment period for the Loca-pass is a maximum of 25 months, with no interest or administration fees.