What is France's back-to-school grant, and how much is it?
A reader asks: I have heard there is a back-to-school grant in France. What is it and how can I apply?
This year, around three million families will receive the Allocation Rentrée Scolaire (ARS), a means-tested grant to help with the cost of sending children back to school. It will be distributed on August 18.
For this new school year, the allocation is larger than normal than usual with an extra €100 per child.
Parents will have to buy masks for their children aged 11 and over who will need to wear them at school whenever they are closer than a metre to other pupils and staff members.
The amount of the ARS depends on the age of the child. This year for 6-10 years the grant is €469.97, for 11-14 year olds, €490.39 and for 15-18 years, €503.91.
Who can apply for the ARS?
The full grant is given to those on low incomes which must not exceed €25,093 for one child, €30,884 for two children, €36,675 for three children plus €5,791 for each additional child.
The ARS is available for families with children educated in both the public or private sector but not for home schooled children. The ARS is given for children between the ages of six and 18.
How do I apply?
If you are already receiving benefits from the Caf, and your children are aged between six to 15 years you will receive the payment automatically without having to ask for it.
For 16-18 year olds parents have to declare their child is still in education or in an apprenticeship which can be done via their account at caf.fr from mid-July onwards.
If your child is starting school in CP (first year of Primary school) in September, but will not be 6 until 2021, you can also apply, but you have to ask the school for a certificate and send it to the Caf.
If you are not signed up to the Caf you can apply by downloading a form from caf.fr, filling it in and sending it to the Caf in your department.
For more information, see the official website (in French)
What are the back to school costs for families?
Every year the back to school costs for families can be high as parents have to buy stationery equipment, school bags, sports clothes, and in lycée, school books.
There are then ongoing costs throughout the year, for more stationary, the canteen and clothing.
The Association Familles de France has been evaluating the annual cost for the past 36 years. For 2019, they estimated the average price at the beginning of the school year for sending an 11-year-old child to school in sixième, the first year of collège, was €195.58 compared to €193.74 in 2018.