UPDATE! I started with the CAF application in September and the last week of December I finally received it. Hang in there!
The monthly rent is probably your biggest expense while living in Paris. Luckily, the French state understands that housing is barely affordable for people with a limited budget. Therefore it provides a housing allowance for low-income inhabitants, including (international) students. This allowance is called CAF, which is short for caisse d’allocations familiales. In some cases the allowance is € 200 a month, so going through the bureaucracy that is linked to the application for CAF is definitely worth it!
You can apply for CAF online, but afterwards you have to send them documents by mail. Personally I plan on going to the CAF office and hand them over my documents. Make sure you do the online application as soon as possible (even if you don't have the required papers yet), because the date of your online application is the date from which on you will get money! Sometimes people receive retroactive payments, but I don't think you want to risk getting less money than you deserve. Click on the link to apply for CAF online.
If you want more information on CAF and the application procedure, please read the following English-language document that is written by CAF: Student Housing Benefit (CAF)
This is the list of documents that I have to provide myself for the application (I'm still in the process), so you will probably have to provide them as well:
- After the online application you will receive two documents that you have to print. One must be signed by you, one must be signed by your landlord/ landlady.
- A copy of your birth certificate.
- A copy of your passport.
- Proof of being a student at a French educational institution (in my case a document provided by Sciences Po once I was registered as a student)
- A copy of your European Medical Health Insurance Card. If you are not a European Union citizen you have to provide something else that has to do with your health insurance or the French social security.
- A copy of the rental contract.
- Proof of your earnings in 2011 and 2012. I asked the tax authorities of my birth country to send me an income (tax) statement of 2011 and 2012. This took me 6 weeks, so be prepared that getting the right papers can cost a lot of time.