Living in Paris can be stressful for students, especially with regards to finance. Having personally had some pretty big financial issues in my first year at ULIP (thanks Student Finance Wales), I now know that help is there should things go wrong in any way. It is completely normal to worry about financing your way through university in Paris, but hopefully through this page I can offer some information and advice. If you have any particular or unparticular finance questions or issues you would like to discuss with me, feel free to contact me via email.
How can ULIP help you with your finance? The University and Student Services can help students with their finance in a variety of ways. The University acts as a guarantor for renting an apartment and can offer help if any problems arise with landlords and contract issues. The university also offers a hardship fund and emergency loans for those in need of them (subject to filling out the necessary paperwork). For example, I received an emergency loan when my student loan did not come through and eventually paid it back when I did receive my student loan. Never hesitate to contact Student Services if you need these. They can also help with CAF applications and provide the necessary documents for opening bank accounts and applying for CAF and the ImagineR (E.g. student certificates, translations of birth certificates). The university also offers a bursary for students with a household income of less than £30,000. This should be applied automatically if your parents have given permission to declare their household income to university.
How can I open a French bank account? Opening a bank account is probably one of the first things you should sort out when you move to Paris. Many students use Crédit Agricole as there is a branch very near ULIP, but other options include HSBC or BNP. Firstly, you will need to make an appointment with the bank, if you are not confident or do not know French you can contact your buddy or a friend from ULIP to take with you to help translate. Make sure you bring your passport, proof of residence, declaration of study and some money, plus any other documents they may require. French bureaucracy is bad enough even when you have the correct documents! Bank accounts also cost money to maintain in France, usually a small fee each month. This is to cover the running cost of the account. It is important not to leave your French bank account unattended just in case it starts going into your overdraft, which you will probably have to pay interest on.
What extra costs are to be expected? In France it could be a good idea to invest in health or other types of insurance depending on your situation and urgent need. The EHIC system will not be valid if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, so now more than ever insurance is necessary for ULIP students. French healthcare is not like the NHS, so you will have to pay for trips to the doctor or hospital and later apply for medical reimbursement by posting scanned copies of all your prescriptions and medical bills to Assurance Maladies in Paris.
Travel Expenses When you first arrive, we reccommend buying a carnet (book) of 10 t+ tickets for 14 euros. This type of ticket will allow you travel on the Metro, RER, bus or tram within zone 1 (check map below). Each ticket allows you one journey. Once you are settled in Paris, you can apply for an Imagine R travel card. You can apply online at https://www.jegeremacartenavigo.fr/connexion/connexion_ou_creation_compte, and it costs either a one-time payment of 350€, or you can pay 38€ monthly from a French bank account. You will need a student certificate to apply for the imagineR to prove your validity. As long as you are making over 6 individual journeys a week, this is the most cost-effective option and allows ‘free’ travel to the airport and far outside of central Paris. It is also possible for Student Finance England users and potentially others to get some of their travel costs reimbursed, which includes the ImagineR and some journeys home (provided you keep receipts of payments and all necessary documents to complete the reimbursement application).
Written by Geraint Davies, ULIP SU Treasurer (2019-20)