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Cost of higher education in France vs the USA

By Jean
Reading Time: 5 minutes
cost of higher education france usa

All price conversion rates in this article are counted in March 2024 with an exchange rate of 1 EUR = 1.08 USD. Actual rates may vary.

Choosing the right country for higher education is an important decision for students worldwide. France and the USA are popular choices, known for their esteemed educational systems. However, their education costs vary significantly, influencing students considering these destinations.

In this article, we will give examples of the cost of education in France vs the USA and compare the two. Read on if you want to learn more!

cost of higher education france usa

The Cost of Higher Education in France

The cost of studying in France varies greatly depending on whether one enrols in a private or public school. It also depends on the field of study. Therefore, the following numbers are estimates and can vary with time and location.

France is known for its relatively affordable higher education system, especially in comparison to countries like the USA. Tuition fees for public schools are designed to be affordable, with significant subsidies for European students and reasonable fees for non-European students:

European Students:
– Bachelor: €170 ($183)
– Master: €243 ($262)
– Engineering: €601 ($649)
– Doctoral: €380 ($410)
Non-European Students:
– Bachelor: €2,770 ($2,991)
– Master: €3,770 ($4,071)

Source Campus France:

Good news for international students, many of the most prestigious and renowned universities in France are public schools! For example, the celebrated Sorbonne University, which enjoys a global ranking within the top 100 as of 2024, and École Normale Supérieure (ENS) in Paris, with a ranking in the top 50 globally.

In contrast to public universities, France’s higher education system also includes Grandes Écoles – highly selective schools that often specialize in engineering, business, or political science. These institutions, including the popular Polytechnique, Science Po and HEC Paris, are renowned for their high quality of education but are more expensive compared to public universities. Tuition fees in those schools are higher than those in public schools. Typically, tuition fees vary between €3,000 ($3,240) and €10,000 ($10,800) annually.

Learn more about French education system here:

cost of higher education france usa

The Cost of Higher Education in the USA

Tuition costs at universities in the United States can significantly vary depending on the state and whether the institution is public or private. Typically, private universities may charge tuition fees that are 50% to 100% higher than those of public universities, and in some cases, these fees can be up to four times greater.

For international students, it’s crucial to understand that they are categorized as “out-of-state” students, which generally leads to tuition fees approximately twice as high as those for “in-state” students, as indicated by U.S. News Data.

Given that our audience primarily consists of international students, we’ve compiled average annual tuition fees for “out-of-state” students to offer a clearer financial picture. Tuition fees vary significantly across states. For instance, in Florida, the average annual tuition fee for out-of-state students is $8,700 at public universities and $17,560 at private universities. Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, the fees for public and private universities stand at $18,150 and $24,900, respectively, according to data from studyportals P.V.

Comparing the Cost of Higher Education in France vs the USA

The cost of higher education in France is significantly lower than in the USA. For example, European students in France pay around $183 for a Bachelor’s and about $262 for a Master’s program annually, which is substantially less than the USA options, where tuition can exceed $20,000 per year.

Non-European students in France face higher fees, around $2,770 for a Bachelor’s and $3,770 for a Master’s, yet these costs still undercut the steep prices of USA education. Even private universities in France are more affordable compared to their USA counterparts, making France an economically attractive option for higher education.

cost of higher education france usa

Living Expenses

Moving abroad to study comes with many more costs than just the tuition and enrollment fees. It is in one’s best interest to also consider rent, utility fees, health insurance costs, as well as food and other daily necessities.

France might appear at first to be an expensive place to live. But the cost of living in France is completely achievable for those who wish to live and study in France – as long as you do some preparation.

In France, monthly expenses for students can range from €600 to €1,200, varying by city. The USA generally has higher living costs, averaging $1,000 to $1,500 per month, with some cities being particularly costly.

Read about the cost of living in France here:

Read about cost and how to find accommodation in France here:

Get an Estimate

Wondering how much does it cost to live and study in France? Use our cost of living calculator to estimate how much money you will need during your stay in France. Please note that these figures are estimates based on averages, and your actual cost of living will vary depending on your location in France, the school you attend, the duration of your studies, your accommodation, lifestyle, and spending habits.

Get an estimate here:

Financial Aid and Scholarships

France offers numerous scholarships to foreign students to help them finance their studies in France. Check scholarships available here:

In addition to scholarships, France offers housing allowances to international students, helping alleviate one of the most significant expenses after tuition fees: rent. Students in France holding a long-term visa may qualify for housing assistance from the CAF (Caisse d’Allocations Familiales), which can substantially reduce housing costs. Types of financial aid include APL, ALS, or ALF, with the average monthly APL for a single person in standard rentals being around €150. To make a simulation, visit:


France offers a highly subsidized healthcare system with low costs for students, while healthcare in the USA can add significantly to the annual cost of living due to mandatory health insurance requirements.

In France, international students need to register with the national health system (Sécurité Sociale), which is free and covers the majority of health care costs. While the basic coverage is extensive, some students opt for additional private health insurance, known as “mutuelle.” These plans cover expenses not fully covered by the Sécurité Sociale, like certain dental and eye care services. The cost for these plans is relatively low, typically ranging from €20 to €50 per month, less than it would cost in the USA.

cost of higher education france usa

Why It’s Worth Studying in France

If you have the opportunity and economy to study abroad, we recommend giving France a chance! Not only the cost of university in France vs the USA is cheaper, but it’s also good for your career and a life-changing experience that you will remember for the rest of your life.

Even if you don’t speak French, many universities in France provide education in English too. You can also learn the language to access all programs taught in French! For programs taught in French, a B2-level proficiency in French is generally the minimum level required by most universities. 

Language schools in France can help students reach their academic goals. See all our language programs including university pathways here: Drop us a message through the contact form and we’ll help you apply to live & study in France.

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