No Barriers to Education: Financial Aid at Sciences Po

(Updated 19/02/2021) - At Sciences Po, we firmly believe that financial barriers should not get in the way of education. That is why each year we dedicate more than 11 million euros in scholarships and financial aid. Thanks to this proactive social policy, we support every year 4 in 10 students (figures from 2019-2020).

1 in 3 students studies for free

Sciences Po’s first engagement in its social policy is carried out in its tuition fees. In 2005, Sciences Po devised an innovative system for students of the European Economic Area: tuition fees are determined according to household income, on a sliding scale and calculated individually, in order to most closely match every student’s means. As a result, more than three students out of ten are exempt from tuition fees. This fee waiver is not just applicable to CROUS scholarship holders, but also to non-scholarship holders from low income backgrounds, to all students with a disability and to students with refugee status.

via GIPHY

What is a CROUS scholarship?

European students who have studied in France for at least one year are eligible to apply for the CROUS need-based scholarship. These need-based scholarships are awarded by the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research to students under 28 years of age depending on family situation and household income. In 2016, 26% of Sciences Po students were CROUS scholarship fellows.

Living cost loans for hassle-free study

For students from a low-income background, studying for free may not be enough: living costs can be just as expensive. That is why all European students benefiting from the CROUS scholarship – 25% of our students in the 2019/2020 academic year – are also entitled to additional financial aid from Sciences Po, as a top-up to fee exoneration. This additional aid represents 75% of the amount of the CROUS scholarship. Any Sciences Po student falling within the lowest CROUS percentile receives 982 euros a month, as opposed to 561 euros a month without this additional aid (figures from 2019). In the 2019/2020 academic year, these grants allowed more than 2,200 European students to complete their studies free of financial constraints.

Faithful to its European commitments, Sciences Po makes additional efforts to help European scholarship students. Although European students aren’t eligible for a CROUS scholarship until their second year in France, Sciences Po substitutes the CROUS scholarship during their first year, a supplementary support which is unique amongst French higher education institutions. 

Over 30 scholarships and financial aid opportunities exist for non-European students too, particularly the Emile Boutmy scholarship, named after the university’s founder. Awarded according to both academic and social criteria, there were 326 Boutmy scholars in 2019-2020. Boutmy scholarships can amount to 19,000 euros a year. Other programmes are also available, such as the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Programme, specifically designed to aid gifted African students, or the scholarships allowing refugee students to study within the Welcome Refugees programme or the Professional Certificate for Young Refugees (42 students in 2019-2020). 

Finally, many Sciences Po students benefit from public or private scholarship programmes. 

On the whole, Sciences Po helps nearly 4 in 10 students: 35% of students are exempt (totally or partially) from paying tuition fees or receive financial aid. 

Mobility grants for the year abroad

At Sciences Po, a mandatory part of the degree is the 3rd year abroad. This is an enriching experience for students but not everybody has the financial means to cover living costs in a foreign country. In order for all students to choose the country of their choice, our mobility grants provide students with financial difficulties the means to pay for the extra costs of a year abroad, or, to make the necessary arrangements in the case of a handicap.

Emergency hardship: tailor-made support

Beyond these financial aid initiatives, Sciences Po’s welfare services are available to support all students so that daily living costs, administrative costs, or any unforeseen challenges they may face do not add excess pressure on their studies. 

  • The housing service collects adverts and postings, supports students in their search for accommodation whilst proposing housing options in student residences, and can also provide financial aid.
  • To help overcome unforeseen financial difficulties or a delayed loan payment, our student welfare and support service adapts to each individual case, even giving out emergency help. 
  • We also provide help for non-European students with administrative procedures involved in obtaining visas and residence permits or renewing them.
  • Finally, to help students make ends meet, we offer more than 600 student jobs each year. 

These services were reinforced in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. Emergency housing support, helping with administrative procedures, reimbursing medical fees: almost 500 students were accompanied, and 220 were given financial support to face the crisis in 2019-2020.

For concerns that are not uniquely financial, our Health Centre takes over to provide further support: the medical teams provided more than 1,500 remote medical appointments during the lockdown.

Source: Financial aid policy and student services, admissions report 2018-2019

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