At public universities
University dormitories in France are managed by the CNOUS (Centre National des oeuvres universitaires et scolaires), which runs local student service agencies known as CROUS (Centre régional des œuvres universitaires et scolaires). CROUS dormitories are by far the most affordable form of student housing, and monthly rents vary from €120 for a single room to €350 for a studio apartment. CROUS agencies are widely distributed throughout France.
The dormitories may be located on campus or in town. Most of the spaces allocated for international students are reserved for recipients of grants from the French government. Many universities have also made agreements with CROUS to reserve rooms for international students participating in exchange programs or those who have received other scholarships to finance their stay in France. Some institutions also reserve rooms for international students enrolled in the second year of a Master’s program or in a doctoral program. If you fall into any of those categories, you should ask your institution or the organization that manages your grant whether reserved housing is available.
Chances of finding a place in a CROUS building outside of these special cases are relatively slim, although you may still wish to submit a request to CROUS after you arrive, as places sometimes open up during the course of the year. In Paris, it will be especially difficult to find CROUS housing, while in the rest of the country, you may have a better chance!
At grandes écoles and private institutions
The grandes écoles and some private institutions maintain their own on-campus student dormitories. These institutions make an effort to reserve housing for international students. For further information, please check the website of the institution you plan to attend and request a room as soon as you receive your offer of admission.
Private student dormitories
Private buildings designed for students can be found in most university cities in France. These dormitories are quite comfortable and offer a variety of services. Such buildings are generally located close to campus. These are generally more expensive than the other kinds of student housing.
Some basic information about private student dormitories:
- A security deposit generally equivalent to one month’s rent is required.
- Students must have a co-signer or guarantor living in France. If you do not have a guarantor, you can apply to the caution locative étudiante (Clé), a government initiative designed to help students without guarantors obtain housing.
- If you make your rental arrangements before arriving in France, you will likely be asked to pay a deposit, which you may have to forfeit if you decide not to take up the housing offer.
- International students are eligible to apply for financial assistance for housing.