How to afford private school fees

There’s no denying private school fees are expensive (up to $35,000 a year on tuition alone).  Looking at the data over the past 10 years, they’re rising faster than inflation too. So how is it that 1 in 3 Australian children now attend a non-Government school? Sacrifices, planning ahead and maybe even calling in a favour. Here we shed light on your options if you’re on a tight budget.

1. Start saving early

A private education from K-12 can add up to over $300,000 in total on tuition alone.  That’s not including uniforms, technological devices, excursions and extra-curricular activities either.  The first step is to ensure you can pay for the tuition in the first place. If you can, then it’s helpful to start a savings plan from birth.  Setting aside a minimum of $1,700 a month from birth to when your child finishes high school will give you enough to pay the fees.  You can get creative, like putting the money into a mortgage offset account or looking into investment bonds, education bonds or managed investments. If you’re unsure of the right option for you, a financial adviser can help you work out what’s best for your individual circumstances.

2. Consider the timing

Deferring your child’s private education and opting for a Government public school is another way to cut down cost.  There’s a big difference in the total amount of money spent on a child attending from years 5 or 7, than there is for a child attending from kindergarten.  So run the numbers on the school you’re looking at compared to your local primary school and see if it’s really worth it.

3. Call in a favour

If sending your children to a private school is out of reach, it might be worth asking your parents if they can help.  It’s always worth asking if they are comfortably retired and not on the pension.  They might feel it’s a privilege to educate the next generation and their super is accessible and tax free.  Just be mindful of any benefits they might receive and ensure the tuition fees don’t have a negative impact on their retirement plans.

4.  Ask the school for help

If you have an existing relationship with the school and have come into hard times, it’s worth asking for special consideration on fees. Every school will have their own ways to help out.  Some options include a payment plan and deferred payments, scholarships, waived fees, payment in lieu of manual labour and sibling discounts.

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