When you think of studying abroad in France, the words "low budget" don't exactly come to mind. While living in France is pricier than living in, say, Nicaragua, you can get still some sweet discounts as a student. Think student discounts on 3-course lunch menus, trains, free museum passes, and more! While yes, studying in Paris will cost more than anywhere else in France, we're here to break down the costs to make this endeavour less overwhelming.
Related: Here's a full list of the Best Scholarships to Study Abroad in France
Average Tuition Cost for a Semester in France
Technically, you could spend a semester studying French at the University of Montpellier or the Sorbonne for less than $4,000 -- possibly even as little as $1,000. However, go with a private program provider, and that rate automatically triples -- with rates ranging from about $15,000 - $28,000.
Unsure whether you should study abroad through a university in France (called "direct enrollment") or with a third-party study abroad provider? Learn more about the difference between the two.
Here are some samples of the costs you might pay for different options to study abroad in France:
Tuition for direct enrollment for a semester at:
Tuition for a semester with a third-party provider:
- IES Abroad Paris - French Studies: $18,970 (2020)*
- Study Abroad in Grenoble with API!: $11,980 - 18,480*, depending on area of study (2020)
- AIFS Study Abroad in Paris, Sorbonne: Semester or Year: $14,995* (2020)
- CEA Study Abroad on the French Riviera: Starting at $15,995* (2020)
*Note this particular total includes housing.
Average Cost of Living in France
The City of Lights (Paris) is the most expensive city to study in, but smaller cities -- like Montpellier and Lyon -- are much more reasonable.
Even so, with student discounts and the like, you'll be looking at about $1,800 for bare minimum living expenses for one semester plus about $1,500 - $2,000 in housing. Budget more if you plan on eating out once or twice a week, traveling, or if you're studying in Paris.
|Utilities||About $185 per month|
|Cell phone||About $22 per month|
|Local transportation||A monthly pass: about $56|
|Total||Expect to spend about $3,500 - 4,500 for one semester in France after airfare and program fees.|
Average Airfare & Travel Costs While in France
To get to Paris from the United States, round-trip flights will range from $450 - $1,750. Flying from the West coast or the Midwest is generally pricier than flying across the pond from the East Coast. Ticket prices go up even more if you're flying elsewhere in France.
If, for example, you're spending a semester studying French at the University of Bourdeaux and get a super good deal on flights, you could get by with spending roughly $6,500 - $9,500, as a more generous estimate for students directly enrolling in a French university. On the high end, a program with a third-party provider and living costs could be as much as $25,000. A more middle range number if going through a program provider is somewhere under 20,000.
Other Costs to Keep in Mind While Studying in France
In France, all international students need to prove that they have medical insurance. Insurance in France costs anywhere from $145 to $785 a year, depending on your age. Before getting stressed out about this, check with your current insurance provider to see if they could already be covering you overseas.
Another cost to consider, while not mandatory, is taking additional French language classes. This is especially useful if you're just starting to learn the language and if your university doesn't already offer them. You could also find a language buddy to swap French lessons in exchange for English lessons.
Now, let's talk about fun. How much you spend when you go overseas will depend on your preferences. Do you enjoy shopping? Fancy dinners? Concerts? Gym memberships? Netflix? Traveling, even if that means backpacking and sleeping on overnight trains?
Some students prefer spending their money at the local brasserie or to buy that Parisian peacoat, while others will prefer budgeting their funds to go toward experiences. When I studied in France, I saved my stipend money by cooking 95% of my meals so that I could save money to travel to other countries on the weekends. I also walked 40 minutes each way to the university instead of spending money on the bus. I still managed to save a few euros to buy clothes at H&M, but much of my savings went toward weekend trips from Aix to Barcelona, Florence, Prague, and more.
I have friends who also took on teaching or tutoring English to make money, which is a great way to gain professional experience overseas and save money. There are lots of ways to have a blast on a budget overseas; here are some tips on studying abroad on a budget.
Tuition fees, paying the rent, and finding a cell phone plan are all just steps that you'll have to take in order to have all of those unforgettable study abroad experiences. It's important to know what the costs are so that you're not surprised by any last-minute, surprise costs as you plan your term or year overseas. France may not be known as a budget destination to most, but by doing your research, it just might be for you!
This article was originally published in December 2016 and updated in January 2020