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French benefit explainer: ‘Allocation de rentrée scolaire’

We look at who is eligible for the ‘back-to-school’ grant, how to apply and how much is available

The ‘Allocation de rentrée scolaire’ (ARS) is meant to go towards the costs of preparing for the new school year Pic: Evgeny Atamanenko / Shutterstock

As part of our series on the various benefits and assistance available in France, we look at the ‘back-to-school’ grant.

What is it?

The Allocation de rentrée scolaire (ARS) back-to-school benefit is for children aged six to 18 who are enrolled in school or undertaking an apprenticeship. 

It is sent out to parents by the Caisses d’allocations familiales (CAF) and is meant to go towards the costs of preparing for the new school year. It is paid per child.

Who can apply?

The ARS is means-tested, meaning your annual income cannot exceed a certain level to be eligible.

If you have one child, the threshold is €25,775, for two children it is €31,723, for three children €37,671, or €43,619 for four.

For this year’s payment, it is income from 2021 that counts. 

If your earnings are slightly above the threshold, the CAF might still agree to a partial ARS benefit.

Read more: How are Caf income support benefits changing in France?

How much is paid?

For children aged six to 10, parents receive €398.09. 

For children aged 11 to 14, this increases to €420.05, and those aged 15 to 18 will receive €434.61. 

The money will be transferred in one go on August 16, 2023 (date changes each year). 

Note that, since July, only bank accounts in Sepa member countries (this still includes the UK despite Brexit) can receive social security benefits distributed by the French state.

How to apply?

If you already receive the ARS or other CAF benefits, and your child will be aged between six and 15 on December 31, there is nothing you need to do – the payment should be automatic.

If your child is starting CP (the first year of primary school), but will not turn six until 2024, you need to send the CAF a certificat de scolarité issued by the school. 

If your child is between the ages of 16 and 18, you need to declare that they are still in school or an apprenticeship in the Mon Compte section at caf.fr

Those who are not already recipients of CAF benefits must create an online account and download an application form. 

Read more: Aim to boost apprenticeships key to France’s reindustrialisation

Good to know

From next year, there are plans to require people to be resident in France for nine months of the year to receive family benefits (currently, this is six months). 

This rule already applies to RSA job-seeker benefits, but will be extended to family allowances and some other payments. 

Exceptions may be made in certain cases, such as cross-border workers or people who work in France but live abroad. 

Inform the CAF any time there is a change to your situation (such as a separation, redundancy, or new job) at caf.fr.

If your child is in collège or lycée, they might also be eligible for a bourse (bursary). These are means-tested, but use income from 2022. More information on education bursaries for children here.

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