How To Get Housing Allowance As A Student In France

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So you’ve taken the plunge and moved to France. Bienvenue! You’ve found a cute flat, some great roommates and a great location. But maybe you’d like a little help paying your rent while you’re over here. That’s where CAF comes in. Caisse d'Allocations Familiales, more commonly referred to as CAF, is a nifty way of getting some housing assistance in France. We break down the details below.

How do I know if I’m eligible for CAF’s housing benefits in France?

Any person of any nationality is eligible to apply for CAF in France. If you’re a student, you must also:

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  1. already be renting or co-renting a flat
  2. not be related to any of the landlords
  3. have little to no financial support
  4. be living in a flat that is no smaller than 9m² for a single person (16m² for two people, 9m² for each additional person) and be qualified as a decent French accommodation

If you are a citizen of an European Union or EEA country, you do not have to produce a valid residence permit.

If you are a citizen from outside of the EU/EEA, you will need to provide one to be eligible.

On the CAF website, you can enter your information into a simulation that will gauge your eligibility. You can find that under the tab, “Les services en ligne/Estimez vos droits pour: les aides au logement” (Online services/Estimate your entitlements to: housing assistance).

This simulation will take into account:

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  • your current income (if available)
  • your past income
  • the amount of rent (excluding charges)
  • the place of residence
  • any children or dependents
  • your roommates’ information

Input your information and your share of the rent first, and then enter your roommates’ information with the full price of rent. Each roommate must make their own individual application.

CAF will distribute their benefits equally among you and your roommates. What you receive versus your roommate may be different depending on whether they work or not.

What types of housing assistance does CAF offer?

CAF offers three different types of housing assistance:

  • Personal Housing Assistance (l'Aide Personnalisée au Logement, or APL)
  • Family Housing Allowance (l'Allocation de Logement Familiale, or ALF)
  • Social Housing Allowance (l'Allocation de Logement Sociale, or ALS)

After inputting your information into the simulation, CAF will be able to assess which assistance package is right for you.

Personal Housing Assistance (l'Aide Personnalisée au Logement, or APL)

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This type of assistance is the most straightforward and will most likely apply to the average expat or student renting in France. It can be used for both furnished and unfurnished rentals, as well as student residences.

The APL is meant to reduce the amount of your rent or monthly loan payments. It will be paid back to you monthly.

If you rent, it will be paid to your landlord. If you own a home, it will be paid to your bank or homeowner.

Family Housing Allowance (l'Allocation de Logement Familiale, or ALF)

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This type of assistance is meant to reduce your rent or monthly loan payments in case of accession to property (meaning, you don't own the property but you've made some changes or renovations to it, and therefore own and take responsibility for those changes).

ALF will be paid to you monthly. It is available for anyone who wasn't able to claim APL, and who either (1) have children (born or unborn) or another dependent, or (2) are part of a household in which the couple has been married for under 5 years and under the age of 40.

Social Housing Allowance (l'Allocation de Logement Sociale, or ALS)

This type of assistance is meant to reduce your rent or monthly loan payments in case of accession to property, like ALF. You can apply to this if you are not able to claim the previous two types of housing assistance. This will be paid to you monthly.

The French government is changing how they calculate housing benefits starting in 2020. At that point, they will be calculated based on current income instead of the income of year N2. However, the information provided on this page is accurate until this change is made.

What documents do I need to fill out a CAF application in France?

To submit a CAF application in France, you will need:

  1. A double-sided copy of your passport
  2. Proof of identity
  3. A copy of your birth certificate
  4. A copy of your residence permit
  5. A declaration of your rent or proof of residence dated and signed by your landlord or residence (attestation de loyer)
  6. A copy of your lease signed by your landlord
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If you are applying to CAF in France as a student, you’ll need:

  • If you’re an EU/EEA citizen: proof of your student status and a copy of your European health card
  • If you’re an international student: a copy of your student visa, and a photocopy of your passport with the OFII stamp or an OFII-issued certificate, signifying the receipt of your paperwork

If you are not already receiving other CAF benefits, you will also need:

  • Your bank account information (RIB or IBAN)
  • Proof of income from the last two fiscal years
  • Your parent or guardian’s benefits recipient number and CAF that pays their benefits, if applicable

How do I apply for CAF?

You must submit a CAF application as soon as you move in. You can do so right on the CAF website, under the tab, “Les services en ligne/Faire une demande de prestation” (Online services/Apply for a benefit).

Make sure you know your address, your landlord’s contact information (whether it’s the owner or rental agency) and the amount you pay in rent. Your lease and rental receipts must also be made in your name (or the name of your legal representative if you’re a minor) to receive any benefits.

If you’re renting from a housing agency, make sure to ask for their SIRET number (a 14-figure ID number) if it doesn’t show up on the lease already.

When will I start to receive my French housing benefits?

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Due to high demand, the application may take several months to be fully processed. However, you will be entitled to French housing benefits starting the month after you move in, and your first payment two months after that.

For example, if you apply for CAF in January, you will be entitled to benefits starting in February, and will receive your first payment in March.

As a general guideline, if you are a student who has zero income, you can expect to receive an average of 210€ a month in benefits. A young professional or apprentice can expect around 300€ a month.

What if I need help with my CAF application?

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CAF offers a helpline: +33 08 10 29 29 29. It’s open from Monday to Friday, from 9h00 to 16h30. Local call costs apply. 

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