SEVERAL million families in France are entitled to an annual payment to help cover the cost of getting children ready to go back to school in September.
The e1.5bn allocation de rentrée scolaire (ARS) was paid out to the parents of 2.8 million children last year and applications are now open for the 2010 instalment.
To qualify, your household income in 2008 must not have exceeded €22,946 (for a couple with one child).
This amount rises by €5,295 for each additional child (for example, €38,831 for a four-child family). If your income is slightly over the threshold you might still be eligible, but the size of the payment will be smaller.
To be eligible for the 2010/11 payment, you must have at least one child born between September 16, 1992 and January 31, 2005.
The benefit pays out €280.76 for a child aged six to 10, rising to €296.22 for 11-14 year olds and €206.51 for those aged 15 to 18.
If you already receive benefit from the Caisse d’Allocations Familiales you do not need to do anything – the amount will be paid in August provided you have sent your 2008 income declaration to the CAF.
New applicants should download a PDF form from http://tinyurl.com/rentreehelp and send it back to your their local CAF office.
Research last year by Familles de France found the cost of the rentrée was falling but it still costs about €175 to get all the clothes and equipment needed for an 11-year-old starting collège.