A question about school fees.

(27 Posts)
aciddrops Thu 14-Nov-13 13:50:30

My question is: Are schools generally willing to negotiate over fees?

That's it really smile

MrsApplepants Thu 14-Nov-13 13:50:56

Our school isn't!

AfricanExport Thu 14-Nov-13 13:53:15

I don't think so. Unless it's a bursary situation. .. maybe...

Bowlersarm Thu 14-Nov-13 13:54:31

No. Various schools our DC have been to offer bursaries and scholarships.

Other than that, no negotiation on fees. Some are more understandable about late payments and give a bit of leeway, but no money off as such.

NewBlueShoesToo Thu 14-Nov-13 13:54:54

The good schools don't need to. However , there is a school near here that describes itself like Easyjet. Whoever is sitting next to you has paid a different amount!

Some schools have sibling discounts which vary. Some have bursaries and scholarships. Some prep schools offer discounts to children coming in at Year 7. Some do discounts if you pay for a few years in one go. So although fees aren't negotiable it is often a good idea to chat to the bursar.

Good luck. smile

abear Thu 14-Nov-13 13:55:55

In my experience absolutely not unless bursaries etc as said above.

EdithWeston Thu 14-Nov-13 13:56:13

No. Other than scholarships, bursaries, sibling or staff discounts (existence and terms of which will all be set out) they don't do it as it's a guaranteed fast route to piss off all the other parents.

Clavinova Thu 14-Nov-13 14:25:32

Prep schools generally 'yes' if they have spaces in a particular year group (very likely in years 7 & 8) or they want to even up a girl/boy
imbalance and it's worth a try with senior schools who have spaces, especially those recently turned co-ed. I live in the South East and know 4 families with a 'discount' (not scholarship or bursary) at prep school and 1 at senior school - all 'good' schools although not overly selective. You would have to speak to the Headteacher in person after you've looked round the school and shown an interest.

middleclassonbursary Thu 14-Nov-13 16:59:56

Not so much negotiate but you can often a get a significant discount (at least 10%) and you are also usually protected from any future rises in fees if you are able to pay all the fees up front. So if you have a lump of money kicking around and your happy with the school its well worth having a conversation with your bursar. If you're a negotiating type I personally am not you might be able to knock them down a little on this lump sum as well.
As one bursar said to me many years ago if you don't ask you wont get.

"it's a guaranteed fast route to piss off all the other parents."

Fairly obviously I can only speak for myself but I'm not in the habit of discussing how much I pay in school fees with other parents. Bursaries are confidential this is usually one of the conditions of getting one and I'm pretty sure that if you managed to negotiate any kind of discount this would also be confidential. At the end of the day what you pay has absolutely nothing to with any other parents it is between you and the school.

Bowlersarm Thu 14-Nov-13 17:17:03

middleclass our dc prep school offered 5% discount on paying 5 years fees in advance. They wouldn't offer a greater discount. We didn't in the end.

I'm surprised people are saying schools do discount. They can't be popular. I know a number of friends have asked at various schools my dc have attended, all given big fat "no" although time to pay.

exexpat Thu 14-Nov-13 17:23:42

I haven't heard of any schools round here which will directly negotiate over fees, but there is one mainly boarding school which seems to give art/music/sport scholarships to not noticeably talented children who apply as day pupils. I have to admit I have wondered if that was a way of trying to improve its balance of pupils - it has a lot of overseas pupils, but needs to keep up numbers of locals.

middleclassonbursary Thu 14-Nov-13 17:37:36

Bowler I suspect the discount offered if you pay a lump sum up front varies from school to school. I've even heard of people getting a 15% of five yrs of boarding fees thats a saving of just off £26 000 on £34 000 pa more if it it protects you from any future school fee hikes thats definitely worth having.

exexpat Thu 14-Nov-13 19:25:53

The bigger a discount a school offered for paying school fees upfront, the more I would worry about its financial health and whether it would still be around for the duration of my children's educationl... Quite a few private schools have gone bust in recent years.

Coconutty Thu 14-Nov-13 19:31:42

Not around here, and only kids on scholarships can apply for bursary unless already at school and have a significant change of circumstances.

I certainly wouldn't pay 5 years upfront for the reasons exexpat gives.

EdithWeston Thu 14-Nov-13 19:41:46

Is someone on a bursary bubbles that they have a bursary and/or the amount of it, there's no real damage - everyone knows the school gives bursaries. If it comes to light that discounts are given just for the asking, that's when you have to pissed off parents scenario, and lots of bad feeling.

And of course once word is out, the school will have difficulty getting anyone to take its normal,price seriously, and will have to fight an assumption that it is in such financial difficulties that it has to lure in just about any pupil.

Schools do not risk their reputations lightly.

LittleSiouxieSue Thu 14-Nov-13 19:46:57

Sibling discount and early pre payment are the only ones I have come across.

middleclassonbursary Thu 14-Nov-13 20:04:34

All I know offering discount for paying large lump sums up front are definitely not in the might go bust in the next few years category. Friends who've been able to do it had their DC's a big names I doubt they would be stupid enough to hand over this kind of money if they thought the school was about to go bust.
The possible danger of discussing your bursary is that it will be removed from you. Silence seems to me to be the sensible option.

Sharpkat Thu 14-Nov-13 20:10:43

Many moons ago (22 years) I was awarded a 33% scholarship and my parents were in the position to pay my 7 years upfront and so in total they paid 50% of the 7 years' fees upfront. Given that the school predicted a 10% increase in fees per annum which did not happen, more like 5%, in my last year the school were paying my parents for me to attend!

I know times have changed and 33% scholarships are very rare! but if you have a lump sum it is definitely worth talking to the Bursar. If you don't ask! you don't get.

JammieMummy Thu 14-Nov-13 20:24:38

middleclass would you know what the terms are if you were to pay the fees up front but then withdraw your child at some point during their education for reason such as illness etc? It the child was asked to leave!

DH and I are considering paying all fees upfront for secondary school but the situation should the child have to be withdrawn would be a concern for us.

fizzly Thu 14-Nov-13 20:51:05

I'm pretty sure that this would just be the risk that you take JammieMummy. You might be able to find someone to insure you against the risk of not finishing the course, as it were. Although you could certainly ask the question, particularly re illness - the school might have a view. If your child was asked to leave I'd be very surprised if the school repaid any money.

JammieMummy Thu 14-Nov-13 21:22:18

Thank you fizzy. I know there are insurances you can take out to cover fees and I am sure they would cover regardless of it you paid upfront or termly. It is a concer though, what if they didn't take to boarding or it turns out it wasn't the right school etc!!! So many things to think about, but luckily we have quite a bit of time

JammieMummy Thu 14-Nov-13 21:23:18

Thank you fizzly sorry about that. Damn auto correct!

middleclassonbursary Thu 14-Nov-13 21:56:14

I don't know what would happen I suppose you would have to discuss that with the bursar but I would assume that if you say paid 7 yrs up front and then left after three I frankly can't see why you wouldn't have your money or at least a large part of it refunded. I'm not lawyer but I'd definitely be getting someone to draw up a contract with at least optional break points if I was stumping a large amount like £170 000 up front.
IME of bursary they are human and are happy to answer all these kind of questions.

aciddrops Thu 14-Nov-13 22:31:58

Thanks for all your answers. Some interesting scenarios.

Ladymuck Fri 15-Nov-13 07:11:29

We have prepaid fees and got a refund when we chose to move our son. We "lost" the terms fee in lieu of notice that would have been contractually due in any event.

Clavinova Fri 15-Nov-13 07:57:27

Speak to the Head not the Bursar - obviously, if you could easily afford the full fees then you probably wouldn't ask. Especially worth it if there are spaces in the Year Group and you want to join from another school.

ChocolateWombat Fri 28-Mar-14 18:48:55

Most schools will return your money if you leave. It is vital they have this as part of the agreement or people would not pay in advance. People move house, circumstances change, the school turns out not to suit.....people need confidence they can get their money back.
Some of these fees in adance schemes allow you to start paying in long before your child even joins the school. They don't guarantee a place and you are not obliged to go there. They are effectively a tax free savings scheme. People can get out at any point. You simply lose the gains that the system would have given you.

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