When coming to France to study, you might discover one of the most convenient things about this country: housing allowance from the CAF. Also called "APL" (Aide Personnalisée au Logement), this allowance allows students and international students in France to reduce housing-related costs. Here is everything you need to know about the CAF in France: how to apply, duration of the process and more.
What is CAF in France for international students?
CAF stands for "Caisse des Allocation Familiales". It is a French state welfare agency, provided by the French government. The CAF's job is to provide financial help to people living in France, and this includes international students.
Among CAF's allowances is the housing allowance, which nearly every student in France is entitled to. As an international student, it is this allowance, the APL, you might want to apply for.
What are the requirements for obtaining CAF?
As an international student in France, you are entitled to housing allowance from the CAF. Still, there are criteria you need to meet :
- Having a valid resident permit in France (for non-EU students), for example, a long-stay visa (VLS-TS).
- Renting an apartment (or a house, private room), whether it is an individual or shared rental contract.
- Having the rental contract in your name. This means that if you sublet an apartment, you will not be able to get the housing allowance from the CAF.
- Not being related to the owner of your apartment.
- Staying for at least 8 months in France. This last point is very important! Indeed, most rental contracts in France are signed for one year (it is possible to break the contract before its term). Therefore, they theoretically allow you to obtain the CAF as a foreign student in France. However, if you leave France before 8 months and break your contract, the CAF may ask you to reimburse the allowances received.
Is there an age limit to obtain the CAF?
There is no age limit to get housing allowance from the CAF. If you are a minor, you can get the APL, but the lease contract must be signed by your parents.
What amount can I get from the CAF as an international student ?
On average, students renting an apartment get a monthly allowance ranging from €100 to €200. There is no difference in the amount if you are an international student. Still, the amount you might get depends on several criteria, such as your income, your rent, additional charges, and more.
You can even simulate your APL on the CAF website to know the average amount you should receive. Make a free simulation >
What are the required documents to apply for the CAF in France?
The CAF application is done online. This is ideal for foreign students, who can take the time to apply as soon as they arrive in France!
The list of documents you need for your CAF application
Here is the list of documents that foreign students need to apply for CAF in France:
- Proof of identity (ID card, passport)
- Rental contract (your lease)
- "Attestation de loyer" (rent certificate), to be filled by the owner of your apartment
- RIB (French bank statement). How to get an IBAN/RIB from the bank?
Once the CAF receives your application, you might be asked to send further documents such as:
- Your resident permit (or visa validation)
- A proof of student status
- Your birth certificate translated in French (Do I need to have my birth certificate translated?)
- Resource letter (What to do when being asked "je possède des ressources suffisantes pour subvenir à mes besoins" ?)
How to apply for the CAF as an international student?
As mentioned, there are a few documents you need prior to applying for the CAF. Once you have gathered all the required documents, you can apply online, on the CAF's website. The procedure is to be completed in the French language. It might be a bit different depending on the type of rental (shared flat or individual apartment).
For all international students willing to apply for the CAF in France, Livinfrance has made video tutorials!
CAF application for international students in France
How long until I get an answer from the CAF?
From what we've seen and experienced, the CAF process takes a minimum of 3 weeks and up to 3 months. The duration of the process actually depends on 2 things :
- The number of inquiries the CAF is actually handling. For example, the delays are usually longer around the beginning of the school year, in September.
- The speed with which you respond to requests for additional documents, as this might be asked after completing your application.
The other allowances (excluding CAF) for foreign students in France
If you come to study in France, it is possible for you to obtain other financial aid to reduce your living expenses!
First of all, there are several scholarships set up by the French government dedicated to international students. For example, the Excellence-Major scholarships and the Eiffel scholarships are awarded to students pursuing undergraduate and graduate programs in France.
Learn more : France scholarships for international students in 2022-2023
If you meet certain social criteria (income, among others), you may be eligible for the CROUS scholarship. This is a monthly grant for students in financial difficulty. To learn more about the CROUS scholarship, you can read this article.
Livinfrance also provides scholarships for international students! Our scholarship program allows 10 students to get a €1000 grant each semester.