Make the most of the CAF grant!
Hello everyone! Today I bring you a discovery that I hope will be of use and help you as much as it helped me when I found it.
When you go on Erasmus to France you do so knowing that it has lots of advantages considering how beautiful it is, the thousands of things you can do, how tasty the crêpes are... However, one of the best things about travelling to France is that you can enjoy a grant that other countries don't give you.
We all travel knowing that we will have some extra income thanks to the Erasmus grant, however, in France we can also benefit from a bit of money the French government hands out: the CAF grant.
Before talking about it I will say that if you're reading this and you're not going to any place in France you should probably stop reading, because all the information I'm going to share with you won't help you one bit. That being said, if you've got a place at a French university this post is for you, so let's go!
First of all, requesting this grant is a bit of an ordeal, I won't lie. You have to hand in various documents and to be honest, they don't make it easy for you. However, I totally recommend you apply because once you've done the first part, which is the hardest, you won't regret it. I guarantee you.
When should you apply for the CAF?
This is one of the most frequent questions we all have. At what point do we apply for the CAF? Do we have to wait until we're in France or can you apply from your own country? Do you have to have lived for a certain amount of time in France to be able to apply for it?
Right, well, you DON'T apply for this grant from your home country. You have to wait until you are in France to be able to claim it, given that you will only have some of the documents and requirements once you are living there. Therefore, you should apply for the grant as soon as you arrive in France.
Why is it important to apply for it so quickly? Because the sooner you apply, the more money you'll receive. They start to hand out the grant money one month after having applied for it, meaning, if you apply in September, in October you'll already have the grant. However, if you spend all of September living in France but time passes you by and you don't apply until October, it won't matter that you've already been there a month, the first month you'll get the grant will be November. Therefore, do the grant application as quickly as you can.
What documents do I need to apply for the CAF?
The documents you need to submit vary depending on if you live in a flat or a halls of residence, although the changes are small. Personally, like I mentioned in a previous post, I was living in student halls, therefore I'm going to list the documents that I had to submit myself.
Firstly they as for an identity card, whether it's a national ID or a passport. You'll be asked for this for many processes in France, so I'd recommend you scan it at home and save it to your laptop to have it ready.
Secondly, they ask for the RIB (bank details) of a French bank account. This is important because an English account is useless and you'll have to open one in France. This is the main reason why you apply for the CAF once you arrive in France because from home you can't produce a French RIB given that the majority of Erasmus students don't have a French bank account. This is simple, you just have to go to a bank in France and open an account. There are loads of banks that won't charge, however, I'd recommend you open an account in BNP Paribas. I'll talk more in depth about the bank in another post because there's a lot to explain.
They also request a proof of address, be it your rental agreement, student hall contract... This is what they give you when you sign your contract, so there's not much more to explain in relation to this document.
Finally, they ask for your international birth certificate. Be careful! You can't bring it in English because they won't accept this, once requested it's essential that you make it specifically "international". Birth certificates can be requested online and you'll have the option of picking it up at an office or getting it sent directly to you. If you make the request in a timely manner you can request it so it arrives at your house (it takes approx. around fifteen days). I was a bit slow with this and I requested it with not a lot of time left, so I had to go to an office in the centre of Madrid in the middle of summer in the blistering heat, but it wasn't that bad and it's not like it couldn't be easily sorted out.
How do you apply for the CAF?
There are two ways to apply for the CAF grant: online or in person in an office. Honestly both are equally as difficult and slow, but I personally applied online and had no issues.
To do it in person you just have to take all the required documents to the CAF office et voilà. That's it. Likewise, if you do the application you have to scan the documents (I imagine that a photo would be equally valid, so don't worry if you're in France and you don't have a scanner because it's not completely necessary).
To apply online you should create an account using the following link: https://www.caf.fr (or just searching "CAF France" on Google works). Once there, like I've said you create your account with the details they ask for and from there you can upload the required documents.
Once the documents are uploaded, the team responsible for the CAF have the job of checking if all the documentation is correct. If everything is in order, they'll send you a letter letting you know and you'll start receiving money. However, if there is something wrong or some documents are missing, they will also let you know and you'll just have to correct whatever was incomplete.
So, once everything is in order, you'll be ready to receive the money.
When will I get the money?
This varies a lot depending on the person. I don't really know why, but some receive a monthly quantity, and others, like myself, receive it all in a lump sum at the end.
That's why you shouldn't worry if you don't receive an extra sum of money in the given month despite having everything in order and having applied for the CAF grant correctly. Relax, the money always arrives.
How much money will I get?
The amount of money they'll give you depends on a lot of factors. In the CAF website you can run a simulation what will tell you the amount you'd expect to receive, but so you have some sort of idea, it depends on the money you pay monthly for your accommodation, your rent...
An important aspect to this is that you have to keep in mind that the more you pay for your flat or room, the more CAF grant you will get.
So you get an idea, I paid approximately just over two hundred euros a month, and they gave me around sixty euros monthly (I seem to recall). It's honestly really good and something you've got to take advantage of.
Does everyone qualify for the CAF grant?
Yes. Yes. And yes. Everyone that lives in France can apply for it (even the French). It's an amount that the state gives in aid and anyone has the right to apply. The quantity they give you depends on the previously written factors but you'll always get something, so, listen, apply for it, it's a stone's throw away!
In other words, as long as you do all the procedures correctly you'll receive an extra sum of money so remember this when you're all tied up in the paperwork, because later you'll be grateful.
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