Study Abroad

The 6 Best Scholarships to Study Abroad in France

Charlie J. Stoever
Topic Expert

Charlie is a freelance writer and traveler who studied abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France in college.

Students from around the world are drawn to consider studying in France. It's easy to see why, from a plethora of captivating cities to study and live in to affordable education that makes it more accessible than you might expect.

Just as researching creative ways to study in France for free might end up working in your favor, it's worth it to research and apply for scholarships. It's important to be aware as you look that much of scholarship funds in France are prioritized for European citizens who are part of the Erasmus exchanges between European countries and a few engineering, business, and medical students from French-speaking former colonies.

Real talk aside, let's dive into the best scholarships to study abroad in France! We're breaking down options for undergrad scholarships and then graduate scholarships.

Scholarships for Undergraduate Students

Walter Jensen Scholarship

Dreaming of becoming a French teacher? This free money should be on your mind then. This scholarship is awarded to help a deserving future teacher of French to study in France. You must be at least 18 years old and enrolled in an established teacher education program (B.A., B.S., or M.A.T.) in French. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, non-native French speakers, and sponsored by an American Association of Teachers of French member teacher.

  • Award: $2,000
  • Deadline: March 15
  • Application: Click Here

The ISA Diversity Scholarship for American Students

This is just one need-based scholarship out of several ISA scholarships that goes to U.S. students (either U.S. Citizens or U.S. Residents) of diverse or mixed ethnic backgrounds who wish to study in France. To qualify, you must already have been accepted into an ISA (International Studies Abroad) overseas study program.

  • Award: 6 grants of $1,000 to $2,000 are awarded annually
  • Deadline: Fall: April 30, Winter/Spring: October 30, Summer: February 28
  • Application: Click Here

French Ministry of Higher Education & Research: Merit & Need-Based Grants

These are French government funds allocated in accordance with social criteria. While getting free government money sounds fine and dandy, most grants go to French nationals BUT some foreigners may qualify! How, you may ask? For example, if, for tax purposes, your home over the past two years has been France. Other qualifications include being a national of a European Union country or being a national of a European Economic Space country and previously holding a permanent job in France (full or part-time). Have a parent or legal guardian who has earned income in France? You qualify.

Another way to qualify is to prove your degree of integration into French society, such as by the length of time you've already spent studying in France or if you have certain family ties in France. If you've lived continuously in France for 5 years, you could be a qualifier, too.

  • Award: Varies from $247 per month over 9 months to $494 per month for 2 to 9 months
  • Deadline: Varies between January 15 and April 30
  • Application: Click Here

American Institute for Foreign Study Scholarships

These are awarded to American students who show high academic achievement. Over $800,000 in scholarships, grants, and financial support are awarded to deserving students & institutions each year. Be aware that scholarships listed are not available to students on AIFS customized faculty-led programs. To apply, you'll need to write a 1,000-word essay on how studying abroad fits into your academic and career goals, and what will you do to promote study abroad on your campus when you return.

Scholarships apply to AIFS programs including the French cities of Cannes, Grenoble, and Paris, but if you're enrolled in a program through your school, you can still check with your study abroad coordinator to see if any special AIFS scholarships apply to you.

  • Award: Varies from $200 for summer programs and can go up to $5,000
  • Deadline: Varies
  • Application: Click Here

Scholarships for Graduate Students

The Fulbright Scholarship

While competitive, this prestigious option is for recent college graduates, master- and doctoral-degree candidates, and young professionals with less than five years of work experience. Up to 20 grants are awarded annually and go toward 8 to 10 months of study in France. Arts, humanities, and social sciences students may enroll in a graduate degree program (master’s or doctoral), or attend courses without seeking a degree, or conduct research and attend courses, or just conduct research. Natural sciences and engineering students can enroll in a graduate degree program (master’s or doctoral), and/or conduct research.

  • Award: Not specified, and you would pay your tuition fees (which are highly subsidized by the French government). In 2017-2018, annual fees for public institutions were: $390 for the Master's degree, $483 for the PhD, and $753 for engineering programs.
  • Deadline: October 9, 2018
  • Application: Click Here

The Chateaubriand Fellowship

Offered by the Embassy of France in the U.S., the Chateaubriand funds Ph.D. students from American universities wishing to do research in France for four to nine months. Chateaubriand fellows are selected through a merit-based competition and a collaborative process with evaluators in both countries. Candidates can be STEM students or humanities and social sciences students.

  • Award: STEM Chateaubriand fellows receive a monthly allowance of up to $1,730 (depending on other financial support you might be getting while in France), a round trip ticket to France and support for health insurance abroad. The award for humanities recipients is not specified.
  • Deadline: The call for applications is open each year from October to January.
  • Application: Click Here

Other Resources

These are other ways to fund your studies in France, and if you're having trouble organizing it all, we've devised this handy dandy need-based scholarship spreadsheet to spread the love!

Here are some other sites and resources that can really help you figure out your study abroad finances before you board your plane to France:

  • 39 Study Abroad Scholarships & Grants to Apply For Now -- This is the top scholarship article on Go Overseas, updated every year with new scholarships, deadlines, and all the information you need to know in order to apply.
  • A Comprehensive Guide to Need-Based Scholarships & Grants -- If you qualify for need-based scholarships at your home campus, there may be study abroad scholarships you qualify for too. This Go Overseas article covers them.
  • Campus Bourses -- Visit this grant search engine and an overall important tool for finding was to funding your studies in France. Filter your search choices by type of grant, level, subject area, nationality and funding source.
  • FAFSA -- Every year, fill out your FAFSA if you aren't doing so already. This is one of the most important things you can do. Don't just fill it out, keep it updated each year, too. You might need to provide current information about it to apply for need-based scholarships.
  • Federal Pell Grants -- As part of your FAFSA, you will learn if you qualify for Federal Pell Grants. These federal grants are only available to students based on financial need and can be used as part of your tuition payments through a Direct Exchange study abroad program.

Other Financial Options for Studying in France

But wait, there's more!

If you're unable to land a sweet scholarship, you still have options. Going through a third-party study abroad program can come with hefty program fees for administrative and academic support during your stay. Some students want or need this added support, but if you think you can go overseas successfully without it, then enroll directly in a French university. Direct enrollment costs €437 ($540) and that includes a year of basic student health insurance!

Sounds easy, right? Well, first, for direct enrollment, most students must commit to a more long-term program. Think about whether you're going to do a year of undergraduate study or if you're pursuing a master's. Also, your home university needs to accept transfer credits from a French university and count the credits towards your major. This process might incur fees, so do your research! The upside of earning a master's in France is that your degree will be recognized all over Europe and you won't need to worry about equivalencies at all.

Second, direct enrollment requires an intermediate level (by European Standards) of French, as you'll have to take a standardized French test and earn at least a B1-B2.

Another way to make your study abroad dreams a financial reality is to look into your university's available (if any) foreign exchange program. This might end up working in your favor as your university financial aid can still be used to cover expenses and you'll pay a monthly tuition to your home university as usual. If you're at more of an affordable state school or if you're already on a generous financial aid package, this might work out très bien.

Last thing! As you browse the best scholarships to study abroad in France, always check the scholarship website to confirm the official deadline and to make sure you have everything you need to qualify/apply.

Bonne chance et bonne voyage!