bursary

(16 Posts)
leedspete Sat 15-Mar-14 21:05:25

Hi there. My daughter got accepted to go to leeds grammar school or gsal. She was provisionally given a 80% busary which would have seen us paying around £200 a month. We had a visit from their people who organise the bursary to make sure we werent lying. The man came and we were told by him that the bursary was set for this year and the details he was takibg were for next year. We had a letter today saying that tge bursary given to us is now going to 50% which we cannot afford. To say we are gutted is not the word.
My question is I am not earning any more than I was last year as I was sacked from my job. How can they cone to thid decision on this gasis?

happygardening Sat 15-Mar-14 21:42:28

Maybe it's not your finances but the schools, perhaps it doesn't have such a big bursary purse as it thought it might, they had to spend money on something else or it has more parents applying than it thought it would have. Can you not go back and say it's not enough and ask if they can increase the offer to what they originally promised?

leedspete Sun 16-Mar-14 08:14:48

We are going to call them but the letter said this decision is final

happygardening Sun 16-Mar-14 08:37:13

Ok maybe it is their final decision but you might as well ask at the very least why they've gone back on their provisional offer. I'm assuming she won't go if the bursary stays at 50% so you've nothing to loose.
Good luck.

middleclassonbursary Sun 16-Mar-14 09:16:19

Firstly you do need to understand that there is no universal policy for bursaries I can only talk from my own experience.
In 10 years of being on a bursary we've never had a home visit. I'm never sure in this day of google earth what the point is. Let's face it you can always hide the Monet in the attic. We've recently inherited some very nice things, individually not worth lots but combined its still not a lot in the grand scheme of the things but something. All are also of enormous sentimental value, lovingly collected over the years, the relative who bought them lives on for us through them. Our bursar doesn't expect them to be sold to pay the fees. Ok if it was a priceless painting it would be a different story. So if they visited they would find a slightly shabby small cottage with one room full of unusual antiques/paintings and the rest desperate for redecoration.
So the question is what happened at your visit or after your visit? I'm assuming you discussed you finances at this visit, equity in a house,assets, savings (in my dreams), salaries etc, did you declare all of this before when you got your provisional offer, do you own or rent? How big is your house, any equity? If you rent could you rent a smaller cheaper house in the same sort of area? You say you've lost your job can you realistically get another one, unless you have primary aged children or dependent elderly relative you will be expected to work.
Alternatively as said above the bursary pot is either not as big as they hoped or more people applied for it than they originally thought would so the money is just being spread a little thinner.
Finally and sadly for you the other option is that although they want your DD they want another child/children more and they need a larger bursary to attend the school and thus you've lost money to them.
I agree talk to the school, explain the situation (although they probably know you can't send your DD with a 50% reduction let's face it a bursar should be good at math) ask what has changed, even if it is a "final decision" then at least you will know.
I've looked very briefly at your schools website sadly many schools write lots of promising stuff on their websites but when the push comes to the shove the reality is that they can't deliver. The few very big names with large incomes and lots of priceless assets etc and correspondingly large bursary pots (in relation to most others) are on close scrutiny not stuffed with kids on bursaries most have no more than 20% getting some sort of assistance.

RandomMess Sun 16-Mar-14 09:21:46

The school my eldest goes to offers many bursaries however they still expect parents to make financial sacrifice - i.e. you need to really show with your own £££ that you value your child being educated there. When you say you can't afford it do you mean that there are absolutely no changes in your lifestyle you can make to afford it? Extend your mortgage term to lower your montly repayment, cut back on expenditure, holidays, both of you work full time?

TeaAndALemonTart Sun 16-Mar-14 09:55:51

What happened on the visit?

middleclassonbursary Sun 16-Mar-14 12:45:10

Random my DC's school does not expect us to live on the bread line. We take 1 cheap holiday a yr, it's the only way to stop my DH working, have OK cars, not unreliable bangers, but then we need reliable cars to transport him back and forth to school and we both drive 25 miles + one way daily for work, neither I or my family are clad in Primark or shop in Aldi. But we don't have the luxuries many would associate with our income (not vast but a good one), our luxury is to send our DC to a school with fees over 33K pa and that would be completely out of our reach without help.

Teddingtonmum1 Sun 16-Mar-14 17:02:32

Hi leedspete

I have learnt the hard way unless the offer is in writing it doesn't count, was in exactly the same situation was verbally told one thing and when the paperwork hit the mat it was 25% more than I expected. But am happy to report went back explained that it was a financial bridge too far and they reconsidered and reduced it to what was verbally agreed. I too had a home visit I just guess there's only so much in the pot and its a case of trying to reach a balance at the end of the day you have nothing to lose but to pay £200 pm unless you were on minimum wage would be extremely lucky to secure . So has it gone from £200 to £500 a month ?

meditrina Sun 16-Mar-14 17:23:28

Can I just clarify - did you have an 80% bursary for the year starting September 14, and have already been assessed for September 15?

Or is this a changed offer for September 14?

inthename Mon 17-Mar-14 08:39:01

As meditrina has said, is it an offer they made for a September 2014 place or is the reduction due to come into place in her 2nd year?
Ds started his school on a 75% bursary. Last year I was told that the top level was now 65%. I had to send a letter of appeal to the governors. They then put it at 70%
All bursaries are reviewed for each academic year, which means they can reduce them with very little notice and you also need to be aware that the actual school fees can rise year on year as well.
Do contact them and ask why it has reduced so much, they may be able to compromise and raise their offer. But, do also keep in mind that a bursary is only valid at the rate offered for 1 academic year at a time.

middleclassonbursary Mon 17-Mar-14 09:49:16

I'm assuming the OP was given a figure for what they were likely to offer her if her DD secured a place. This is not a common approach but some schools do this so that you know if it's worth proceeding with the application or not. We were able to do this, we filled in the bursary form two years before my DS went (he had passed the pre test but we could have applied before we sat the pre test) we didn't include P60's etc just the numbers and within three days they wrote to us stating the % of reduction we were likely to get if the figures were correct. The letter did clearly state that this was not absolutely guaranteed because the bursary pot varied year on year, as did the number applying for funds. We actually got a slightly larger reduction.
Assuming the OP had completed the figures etc correctly when she applied for a provisional offer then it's a shame for the OP if they have significantly changed their final offer and makes the whole point of applying for a provisional offer in advance meaningless.
The only other thing I would add is that 80% bursaries especially to non scholars are rare.

Impatientismymiddlename Mon 17-Mar-14 09:58:14

Different schools use different information to decipher what level of bursary they think you need. Do you have a lot of equity in your home? Is your home much bigger than you need? Do you take expensive holidays? Do you drive an expensive car? Do you have a very small mortgage?

If you live in a modest home and have a fair sized mortgage on it then the school won't be bothered with that but if you have a very small mortgage and a lot of equity in your home then the bursar might expect you to remortgage to cover some of the fees.
If you take expensive holidays then the school would expect you to sacrifice those and put the money towards the school fees.
If you only work part time or not at all then the school would expect you to put a lot of effort into increasing your income and contributing more towards the fees.

In all honesty there could be a hundred possible reasons for them reducing the bursary, so you need to contact them and ask them why.
I would be concerned that if they have done this prior to your child even starting at the school then will they do this by an even bigger percentage in subsequent years.
Could you afford the fees in future if you had an 80% bursary this year but only 40% next year?

middleclassonbursary Mon 17-Mar-14 10:27:22

"Do you drive an expensive car? Do you have a small mortgage" "if you have a small mortgage and a lot of equity in your home then the bursar might expect you to remortgage to cover the fees" "extend your mortgage"
The questions of course are difficult and vary according to the individual's circumstances. We live in the countryside and public transport doesn't exist and are high millage drivers so need two reliable and therefore not cheap rust bucket cars, a town dweller might only need one car. You might have a small mortgage but can you increase it? Does your income allow you to increase it? We are approaching 50 and are unable to increase our mortgage term because the current one takes us to our scheduled retirement date (although by them well all be working till 80 I fear). At my DC's school assets including equity in property, cars etc are taken as an additional 10% on you income, so depending on what stage your child is at it might be cheaper to have large assets than remortgage and significantly increase your payments for the next 20 years. It's easy to say sell a big house but can you? Not everyone is in the SE.
Generally bursars are realistic and approachable and bursaries are complicated this is why there is no clear cut answer and why different parents in the same school can receive different reductions.
There is also the "how much does the school want your DC factor" I personally think this plays a big part in decisions.

Impatientismymiddlename Mon 17-Mar-14 10:39:06

Yes, I agree middleclassonbursary that everyone's circumstances are different and that some families will not be able to manage with a bigger mortgage or without two cars. Unfortunately, different schools have very different bursary policies and different expectations of how they feel parents should raise the money towards the fees.
I have looked at the different bursary policies for independent senior schools local to me and the household income cut off point for assistance with fees is around £55k for most of them (all day schools). Some of them only look at income, but others state that they will take capital and equity into consideration and that they expect parents to maximise earning capacity.
They all also state that requests for assistance with fees usually outweighs the available funds so bursary levels may differ and that awards will be reviewed on an annual basis. One of the schools states that when requests for help is higher than available funds that the entrance exam results will be taken into greater account.
It's a minefield; but worth it in the long run.

middleclassonbursary Mon 17-Mar-14 11:37:46

Yes it's definitely worth it. We can now see the light at the end of the tunnel as my younger DC is now coming to the end of his school life only two years to go and the end of an era as well. I have never sat down and worked out what we've spent on school fees it's too frightening but am eternally grateful that some schools are so unbelievably generous and given my DC's such incredible opportunities.
I personally don't believe the long term future for stand alone bursaries is great. For example I know the old head at SPS was very committed to open access but the new one has been got in because he's committed to the schools future building plans. I also think that some children on stand alone bursaries have not lived up to some schools academic expectations particularly the super selectives.

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