If you are an employee of the European Commission or other EU institutions and have children, you might (among other benefits) be entitled to the European Commission Education Allowance. For the details, FAQs and most frequently encountered scenarios, read on.
If your child is younger than 5 or older than 5 but not yet in a primary school, he/she entitles you to a Pre-school Allowance EUR 102,18 per month, subject to the Correction Coefficient.
If your child is older than 5 and in regular full-time attendance at fee-charging a) primary school b) secondary school, c) university or a similar educational institution, you are entitled to a single Education Allowance of EUR 283,82, which can be doubled in some circumstances to EUR 567,64. If your child does attend a European School, the Education allowance can still be partially used to cover transportation costs.
The Education Allowance is adjusted according to the Correction Coefficient at your place of employment, as is your salary and all other European Commission allowances.
Costs covered by the Education Allowance
The Education Allowance covers the below fees up to the limit of EUR 282.82:
- School fees.
- Registration fees.
- Transport costs.
The Education Allowance does not cover such costs as:
- School uniforms.
- Learning materials.
- Extracurricular activities.
If your school fees are higher than the single or double Education Allowance, in most cases you will have to supplement the difference from your own income, especially, if you’re in Brussels.
However, some EU agencies in locations without a European School have particular rules about reimbursement/coverage of primary and secondary education costs, and might cover monthly school fees that significantly exceed the European Commission Education allowance limits. As an example, the EU Fundamental Rights Agency offers its staff members “Direct payment of school fees in accordance with service contracts signed between FRA and certain international schools in the Vienna area”. Similar arrangements exist in other agencies (if you know of a particular agency that offers such support, please leave it in a comment and I’ll update the article).
Education allowance adjusted by the Correction coefficient
The below table shows you the amounts of the Education allowance in euros depending on the city your EU institution is located in.
|City||Current correction coefficient||Education allowance (single)||Education allowance (double)|
When is the Education Allowance doubled?
The rules state that the monthly Education Allowance limit is doubled if the EU institution’s staff member lives more than 50 km from the nearest European School. This entails the assumption that 50 km is too long of a distance to travel to school every day and most likely the child would be enrolled in another school nearer to home. Alternatively, the increased allowance can be spent towards transportation expenses.
This, of course, means that the Education Allowance will be doubled for staff of some of the smaller agencies located in cities where there is no European School.
In some places where EU institutions are located, the local European School offers only a limited number of grades. In this case you will also receive a double Education Allowance if the grade your child needs to attend is not available in the local European School.
Double Education Allowance for most students at higher education institutions
If your child attends a university, a college, an institution providing vocational training or similar, you are entitled the single Education allowance if it is located less then 50 km from your place of employment. It will be doubled if the educational establishment is more than 50 km from your place of employment.
Will my Education Allowance be doubled if my children remained in my home country?
It is important to remember that for calculation of entitlement to the double Education Allowance it is your place of employment that counts. Place of employment is the location mentioned in your contract where you are expected to perform your work and relocate to. What does this mean in practice?
In case you have moved back to your home country due to the Covid pandemic, if your ‘place of employment’ has a European School, you will receive only the single Education Allowance.
You will also receive a single Education Allowance if you moved to your institution in a different city or country and there is a European School there, but your children remained behind in your home country without a European School. Because the children would be entitled to a place in the European School if they relocated together with you to the place of employment, you may not claim to double allowance even if they live elsewhere.
Reimbursement of transport expenses
All children or employees of EU institutions are entitled to reimbursement of transport costs, irrespective if they attend a European School or not. These costs are reimbursed as part of the Education Allowance and do not increase the total reimbursed amount.
Costs for one of four types of transport are reimbursed:
- European School bus. PMO will make a direct transfer to the school administration after your entitlement to the Education Allowance is confirmed.
- School bus
- Public transport. To receive reimbursement, copy of the season/annual ticket or proof of payment from the school transport administration must be sent to PMO.
- Private car. Costs are reimbursed for the same value as a season/annual public transport ticket in correspondence with the length of the school year.
Special rules about higher education students
Very short-term courses are not considered higher education and do not entitle you to the Education Allowance. The academic/training programme must last at least 16 hours a week for a minimum of 3 consecutive months to entitle you the Education Allowance.
Reimbursement of distance learning will be individually scrutinized by the PMO and you should expect to provide additional proofs of attendance and payment.
If the university studies are for free, you can still claim the Education Allowance for accommodation costs of your child such as at a boarding school or a host family. The host family may not be relatives. In all these cases you will have to prove that costs were actually incurred (a contract or an invoice, etc.).
Education Allowance and divorced families
If you are divorced and your children are in the custody of your former partner, you can still claim the Education Allowance. There is a possibility to do a direct transfer of the allowance to the other parent.
In the case where the Education Allowance is paid to custodian of your children, the amount of the allowance (single or double) is calculated based on the custodian’s place of residence and not your place of employment.
Education Allowance and disability of a child
The rules governing entitlement of the Education Allowance also mentioned that the allowance can be doubled due to ‘imperative education reasons’. This should include disability that does not allow your child to attend a European School. In case of a child with disability there is a possibility to claim a double Education Allowance even if the school is closer than 50 km from your place of employment. For specific details of this enquire with your EU institution’s HR department of PMO directly.
Also remember that some EU institutions have established their own support measures for parents of children with disability that are more generous than the standard European Commission framework. Again – ask your HR department.
Unfair treatment of pre-school children?
If you are an expat and have children not yet in primary school, it might come as a shock to you that you will receive a much smaller Pre-school Allowance compared to your colleagues that have school-aged children.
I have not been able to find a good explanation as to why this is the case. The best explanation I’ve heard so far is that this allowance is modelled on the Belgian and French childcare systems where creches and kindergartens are easily available for children from very small ages and the European Commission doesn’t see a need to support EU institutions staff who choose to enrol their children in private childcare facilities. However, this creates a major problem in most other countries where private kindergartens usually cost the same or even more than a private school.
Some EU agencies have taken the steps to equalize the Education Allowance for pre-school and school-aged children. There is also the option to request compensation of pre-school fees on a case by base basis to your agency’s executive director. One should also consider putting forward a Staff Request through the Staff Committee if the above policy is not in place. It might take 2 or more years, but well worth it for parents of children in pre-school.
The Education Allowance is paid until your child reaches age 26. The only reason when the Education Allowance is paid after age 26 if studies have been interrupted by military service. In this case the allowance payment period is extended by the length of the military service period. This means that you are financially supported in paying for your child’s education through the bachelors and masters studies.
Tip for contract with a local school
The Education Allowance is paid out throughout the year in 12 instalments. However, schools frequently charge quarterly fees or have 9-11 monthly payments so as not to require payment for the summer months. If this is the case that your total monthly payment exceeds the monthly Education Allowance, request the school to provide an individual payment schedule with 12 equal payments to fully benefit from this provision.
Administrative burden to parents
The administrative burden to benefit from the Education Allowance is relatively mild.
You have to provide an declaration form for each child to the PMO through Sysper or your institution’s HR. If your or your child’s circumstances will not change, the declaration does not have to provided every year. You will have to notify the PMO only when there is a change in the circumstances.
The declaration also has to be accompanied by an European Commission form filled by you and signed by a school representative that your child is indeed enrolled. You also need to add either one invoice or the contract so that the PMO can calculate the monthly payment.
Education allowance in your pay slip
Code for the Education Allowance in your pay slip is either ISN or ISF.
Measures to avoid double-financing
As a principle, you are expected to declare any similar funding as the Education Allowance to the PMO, so that the Education Allowance can be deducted by the respective amount received from another source. Examples of such payments: allocations d’études, basisbeurs, student grants, state education grants, allocation de rentrée scolaire, becas de estudios, etc.
It is expected by the PMO that you will actively claim national benefits that you are entitled to either at your place of origin or the place of employment. The PMO is actively monitoring such support and is aware of most national schemes.
In case you would in general be entitled to receive a national allowance/benefit, but are not receiving due to some particular circumstance, PMO might ask you to provide proof in order to receive the full Education Allowance.
Article 3 of Annex VII of the Staff Regulations
Subject to the conditions laid down in the general implementing provisions, an official shall receive an education allowance equal to the actual education costs incurred by him up to a maximum of ►M148 EUR 285,81 ◄ per month for each dependent child, within the meaning of Article 2(2) of this Annex, who is at least five years old and in regular full-time attendance at a primary or secondary school which charges fees or at an establishment of higher education. The requirement of attendance at a school which charges fees shall not apply to the reimbursement of the cost of school transport.
▼M131Entitlement to that allowance shall commence on the first day of the month in which the child begins to attend a primary educational establishment and shall cease at the end of the month in which the child finishes its education or at the end of the month in which the child reaches the age of twenty-six, whatever is the earliest.
The allowance paid shall be subject to a ceiling of twice the maximum prescribed in the first subparagraph for:
an official whose place of employment is at least 50 km from, either:
a European school, or
an educational establishment working in his language which the child attends for imperative educational reasons duly supported by evidence;
an official whose place of employment is at least 50 km from an establishment of higher education in the country of which he is a national or working in his language, provided that the child actually attends an establishment of higher education at least 50 km from the place of employment and the official is entitled to the expatriation allowance; the latter condition shall not apply if there is no such establishment in the country of which the official is a national ►M112 or where the child attends a higher education establishment in a country other than that of the official’s place of employment ◄ ;
in the same condition as in the foregoing two indents, persons entitled to the allowance who are not in active service, taking account of the place of residence instead of the place of employment.
The requirement of attendance at a school that charges fees shall not apply to payments under the third subparagraph.
If custody of the child in respect of whom the education allowance is paid has been entrusted by law or by an order of court or of the competent administrative authority to another person, the education allowance shall be paid to that person in the name and on behalf of the official. In such case, the distance of at least 50 km referred to inthe preceding paragraph shall be calculated from the place of residence of the person having custody of the child.
For each dependent child within the meaning of Article 2(2) of this Annex who is less than five years old or is not yet in regular full-time attendance at a primary or secondary school, the amount of this allowance is fixed at ►M148 EUR 102,90 ◄ a month. The first sentence of the last subparagraph of paragraph 1 shall apply.
- European Commission information sheet about the Education Allowance