Tuition Fees: A More Balanced Scale for More Equal Opportunities

In order to further our commitment to equal opportunities, Sciences Po is updating its progressive tuition fee system, making it more balanced and better tailored to each of our students. Along with our new undergraduate admissions procedure, this change will take our institution’s social diversity policy even further, opening access to more students from lower and middle-income families.

Furthering our commitment to socioeconomic diversity

For the past twenty years, Sciences Po has pursued a policy of socioeconomic diversity designed to give talented students equal opportunity, regardless of their backgrounds. This effort consisted in creating three systems that are unparalleled in French higher education: a specific admissions procedure for students of the Equal Opportunity Programme (CEP), a financial aid system that benefits 4 out of 10 students, and a sliding scale tuition fee system applicable to students of the European Economic Area, to tailor the cost of education to each student’s family income. As a result of these measures, the scholarship rate climbed from 6% in 2000 to 12% in 2005, reaching nearly 25% today.

In order to extend this policy even further and offer opportunities to an even greater range of undergraduate students, we decided to change our admissions procedure for undergraduate candidates. Starting in 2021, all applicants - whether French or international - follow the same admissions procedure. By creating this unique admissions process, we aim to expand the reach of our Equal Opportunity Programme (CEP) and so that scholarship students comprise at least 30% of each class.

The second element of this change is to optimise our sliding scale tuition fee model in order to be more equitable and to accommodate the increased number of scholarship students.

A more fair and distributive system

As of 2021, our sliding scale tuition fee system (which is currently divided into 11 income brackets) will undergo two transformations in order to become more fair and distributive: a new calculation system will allow for individualised tuition fees for students of the European Economic Area, and an adjustment of fees will benefit 72% of eligible students, i.e. French and European students.*

What is changing?

1 > Already gradual, the calculation of tuition fees will now be further individualised: 

Instead of the 11 brackets, each student will contribute an individualised fee that better reflects his or her family’s financial resources. This adjustment takes into account student feedback, thus improving the system and making it more equitable. 

2 > The range of tuition fees for students within the  European Economic Area will change accordingly: 

  • from 0 to 13,000 euros per year at the undergraduate level, with average fees of 5,350 euros
  • from 0 to 18,000 euros per year at the graduate level, with average fees of 6,750 euros

How will the tuition adjustment impact students and their families?

For 72% of eligible students, this new system will decrease or cause no change to their tuition fees. All families who are below the median income (i.e. with an annual income below 106K euros for a couple with two children) will benefit from the change. This adjustment will also increase the number of tuition fee waivers, from which 1 in 3 students at Sciences Po already benefit. Under this new model, tuition exemptions will apply to two-parent families with two children who earn less than 42K euros annually (a change from the current threshold of 37K euros).

In contrast, students in higher socioeconomic brackets will face increased tuition fees, specifically for two-parent families with two children earning more than 104K euros annually. This income level applies to the 10% of French people with the highest incomes. The maximum tuition fee will only apply to European students whose families earn an annual income of 285K or higher for a couple with two children (a higher threshold than before).

The sliding scale tuition fee model does not apply to international students from outside of the European Economic Area.  Rather, they will contribute, as they do today, an amount that corresponds to the highest amount on the scale.

Reflective of our historically equitable tuition system, this tuition amount is based on the fact that students outside of the European Union do not contribute to higher education tax. Even so, this fee is greatly inferior to the cost of one year of tuition at  American or Asian universities and is in line with the tuition fees of other top tier European institutions. 

Overall, it should be noted that, for all students, the maximum tuition fees are and remain substantially lower than the cost per student at Sciences Po, which was estimated at 18,900 euros annually in 2019.

To whom does this apply?

This tuition fee revision will be applicable beginning in September 2021. It does not apply to students who are in the middle of their undergraduate or graduate studies; it only applies to students who are entering into the first year of their bachelor or master’s degrees.

An annual transition fund of 150K has been established to take into account potential financial difficulties that previously enrolled third-year undergraduate students may face when continuing their graduate studies in September 2021. In addition, the budget of the Social Services Commission (Commission de suivi social) will increase by 15%, and the “Coup de pouce” (“Helping Hand”) scholarship for incoming students who have not received CROUS scholarships will be renewed, thus providing eligible students with tuition waivers.

Lastly, the budget for Emile Boutmy scholarships for non-EU students will increase by 350K annually.

For what purpose? To welcome more scholarship and middle-income students, and to offer better services to all

To support the increase of scholarship students and middle-income students

Sciences Po changed its undergraduate admissions procedure for 2021 with the aim of opening up its pool of candidates to individuals from a wider range of socioeconomic backgrounds and overseas territories. In addition to a minimum of 30% scholarship students in each new class, the fraction of students from middle-income families is expected to increase. These requested changes have a cost: namely tuition waivers and complementary scholarships. 

At Sciences Po, total tuition waivers apply not only to CROUS scholarship students (at all levels), but also to non-scholarship students with limited financial resources. In 2019, one out of three students benefited from tuition fee waivers: a proportion that will further increase in the coming years, even more so since the threshold for students eligible for tuition exoneration is now higher.

But for students with limited financial resources, tuition exemption is not enough. It is also necessary to take into account the cost of living. For this reason, every French or European student that is a recipient of a CROUS scholarship receives additional financial assistance from Sciences Po, on top of the tuition exemption. This supplementary aid will total to 75% of the amount of the CROUS scholarship. Our commitment to welcome 30% of scholarship students in each new class also inevitably increases the need to finance this social policy. 

Beginning next academic year, our ambitious policy to recruit more lower-income and middle-income students will mean a financial effort to increase Sciences Po’s aid funds to allow for more tuition exemptions and supplementary scholarships. The update to our tuition fee system will contribute to this effort. It will also allow for a significant increase in Emile Boutmy scholarships, which benefit students from outside of the European Economic Area. This scholarship fund will increase to 350K euros per year and allow scholarship recipients to receive up to 19 000 euros per year

This updated tuition model also responds to the anticipated increased financial need of students due to the health crisis and its social consequences.

Better services for all students

The evolution of our tuition fees aims to strengthen and reinforce our commitment to socioeconomic diversity and social aid policies. It will also enhance the student experience by providing more individualised support, complete with a single office specifically dedicated to student services. It will also include the roll-out of a digital campus designed for hybrid learning, which will enable all students to fully take advantage of technological equipment and digital resources. All of our campuses will offer more individual study spaces, group study spaces, resources for studying and spaces to enable optimal student life.

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