How to get help with back-to-school expenses in France

How to get help with back-to-school expenses in France
The rentrée scolaire is an expensive time for parents. Photo: AFP
As the summer holidays draw to a close, preparations are stepping up for the rentrée scolaire, but for parents this can be an expensive time of year.

As children prepare to go back to school, or start school for the first time, parents are faced with a long list of purchases from new sports kit to the 29 items of stationery that every French schoolchild needs.

But help is at hand for families who struggle with the cost with the annual allocation de rentrée scolaire (ARS) payment.




What is the ARS?

The ARS is a yearly one-off payment given to parents on lower incomes to help them cover the cost of the numerous items that need to be purchased before children start back at school on September 2nd.

This year it will be given to around 3 million families. “The back-to-school allowance provides support to these families at a time when they are facing a peak in spending at the start of the school year,” explained the Ministry of Health.

Who is eligible?

The ARS is based on total family income. It has a maximum annual income ceiling of €24,697 for families with one dependent child, €30,396 for families with two dependent children and €36,095 for families with three dependent children. For families with more than three children, the allowance increases €5,699 for each additional dependent child.

Families whose income exceeds the threshold but only slightly may qualify for a lower payout from the ARS fund.

How much do you get?

The payment is €368.84 for each child aged 6 to 10, €389.19 for a child aged 11 to 14 and €402.67 for a child aged 15 to 18. The money is paid out on August 20th.

How do you claim?

If you are already in contact with the family benefits service Caisses d'allocations familiales (CAF) and meet the income requirements you don't need to do anything – the payment will be given automatically along with any other allowances you receive.

If your child is starting school this September but is not yet six years old, you will need to get a certificate from the school to confirm your child is enrolled and send it to the CAF.

Parents of children aged 16 to 18 will not get the payment automatically, but need to fill in a declaration online that their children are still in education or doing an apprenticeship. They do not need to provide a certificate to prove that their children are still in education, a déclaration sur l'honneur (sworn statement) is sufficient.

Find out more about the payments here.


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