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Mon CPF: What changes with France's €500-a-year training budget

Sam Bradpiece
Sam Bradpiece - [email protected]
Mon CPF: What changes with France's €500-a-year training budget
The Mon CPF scheme is useful for foreigners in France who are looking for cut-price French classes. Photo by Thomas COEX / AFP

France is 'tightening its belt', the finance minister has announced, and one of the changes will be the way the €500 annual budget for classes for employees is distributed. However, the Mon CPF scheme still offers great opportunities for cut-price classes, including French lessons.

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French finance minister Bruno Le Maire announced in February that the state will need to make funding cuts totalling €10 billion.

Among those are changes to the annual training budget available to all employees (including foreigners) in France, known as CPF.

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Starting in May, employees will need to pay €100 out of their own pockets to participate in the scheme.

What is CPF?

France created the Compte Personnel de Formation (CPF) system back in 2015. 

The idea is simple. All employees in France are able to access money each year for free professional training (€800 for unskilled workers, €500 for full-time, skilled workers). The money can also be 'carried forward' so if you don't use it one year, you will have €1,000 to spend the following year.

The money can be for all sorts of professional development or entrepreneurship courses, but of particular use to foreigners it can also be used for driving lessons or French-language lessons.

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All you need is a social security number to claim your allowance. 

READ MORE: How to claim the cost of language or driving lessons from the French government

Since the creation of a highly accessible app in 2019, more than 3 million people have accessed their allowance to participate in free training of one kind or another.

A total of around 35 million people have accounts waiting to be tapped into. There is more than €53 billion worth of training credit sitting dormant in the system - a figure that will only increase with time. 

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Isn't it just a scam-vehicle?

Unfortunately scammers have latched on to the CPF scheme and emails and text messages purporting to be from the CPF are common, they often contain fraudulent links asking recipients to enter their personal details onto dodgy websites.

There are some important steps to take if you receive SMS messages, calls and emails urging you to take action.

For more information on how to sign up and what to use the training budget for, click here.

Using CPF 

The training scheme itself, however, is entirely legitimate - although it's best to access your account directly through either the website or the Mon CPF app, rather than clicking through links from emails or text messages.

Once you have created your account, the basic process is simple - head to your personal space to find out how much money you have available and then start searching for courses.

You can search on the website by area or by the type of course you want to do eg français langue étrangère (FLE) if you want to take a French class.

How you spend your budget is up to you - you can spend all or part of it at any one time, and if the course you want to take costs more than you have in your training budget then you have the option to pay the difference yourself.

You make your application for the course on the CPF website and then once it is approved you deal directly with the training provider (eg language school or private tutor) to set up the practical details such as the time and place of the classes.

If you need to take a French language exam for admin reasons - eg you are applying for citizenship - you can use your CPF budget to pay for a French course with an accredited exam at the end, which will save you the cost of the exam fee (roughly €150 to €200).

What is changing with CPF?

In April, the French government reaffirmed its intention to ask employees to contribute some of their own money towards training costs. The changes will come into effect on May 1st.

This will come out to a lump sum of €100 per person - so any course you take, you pay the first €100 and then your CPF budget pays the rest. The fee will be re-evaluated on a yearly basis to consider inflation, according to French business daily Les Echos.

So although it's no longer free, it's still a way of paying a lot less for a class if you want to take one.

Job-seekers - who make up around 30 percent of CPF clients - are exempt from the charges. 

There is another smaller change too - those looking to get a motorcycle licence with CPF will only be able to pay for it using their CPF funds if they do not already have car licence (and vice versa).

As a result, the free training for a driving licence will only be for those who do not already have either a motorcycle or car driving licence. 

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