worried about school fees....

(46 Posts)
wintertimeisfun Tue 13-May-14 12:23:24

just got a letter from the school that dd will be starting in september telling us the monthly fee instalments start beginning of june (as opposed to september). dh isn't worrying about the payments, at least he isn't admitting to it although i am. we don't live above our means so this is a big commitment for us for the next 7 years. we can only afford it because she got a scholarship (music) however the monthly instalments are still alot, the school appears to have just put its fees us a fair bit too. just scared of the commitment as both of us are self employed. anyone else in the same/similar situation?

LadySybilLikesCake Tue 13-May-14 12:29:11

I live month by month. Some months are tight, some are not. Ds is 15 now so not long until he leaves (then I have Uni fees to pay! hmm)

It may be wise for you both to look into school fee insurance as you're self employed. If one of you is unwell or work dries up then you could be stuck. This way you have a safety net. It's a huge commitment and only you will know whether it's worth it. It depends on your reasons (but you don't have to justify yourself on here wink)

I would also see if you can put away a small amount extra each month so over time you build up a buffer so if you needed to you could cover one or two instalments from that.

Timetoask Tue 13-May-14 12:49:45

DS is not yet at secondary level put his very well regarded prep school has put up fees by about 4% every single year for the last 3 years.

I have a spreadsheet assuming an annual increase of 4.5% per year in order to plan ahead (the spreadsheet also includes extras, not just fees). DH and I have save one year of fees in advance as we wouldn't want Ds to leave the school half way through the year if something goes wrong.

It is huge commitment.

wintertimeisfun Tue 13-May-14 12:57:24

thanks for your responses. tbh we have a fair bit tucked away. we don't gravitate towards expensive lifestyles (hate that word...) and i have been preparing for this (saving my own fund) for about three years on the off chance that she got offered a half decent scholarship. so excited for her, i don't mind going without/things being tight for years to come as she deserves it. the school is a wonderful school, has a great music dept too, dh went there and have heard about the school from him for years. just so nervous about it. there was a brief period when i really didn't think she would be offered a scholarship and in that time i was really disappointed and not at all relieved (as we would have been comfortably off had she not have gone to this school). this tells me that i really am not gutted about not having spare cash for myself to swan around ie go to selfridges half term..not that i bought much but i do like eating in the 4th floor cafe grin

outtolunchagain Tue 13-May-14 12:57:43

As someone who works in the bursary of an independent school ,alarm bells would be ringing with this I am afraid.How certain are you as to the financial security of the school,this is very odd and smacks of a cash flow crisis.

Most financially healthy schools will issue bills for the September term ,having informed you of the fees for next year some time during the summer term,during the latter part of July with instalments starting in the September ,sometimes this is over 12 ,sometimes over 9 months but never starting in advance of the year .My first though is that they haven't got enough finds to pay their staff over the summer holidays I would be asking some difficult questions and looking at their numbers

LadySybilLikesCake Tue 13-May-14 13:07:35

Some ask for a whacking deposit well before the start of the academic year. Ds's school is in the top 20 and is financially secure but they did this. As outtolunch says though, it would be wise for you to do a little digging into the school's finances. You can have a look at the companies house web site and on the charities commission web site (assuming they are registered there). There's signs that they are struggling which may be hard to see if you're just starting, such as older staff leaving (there's usually one or two who go, but it should raise eyebrows if a fair amount go and are replaced with cheaper NQT's or the classes are combined). Selling off land, not replacing essential equipment, not carrying out basic repairs, charging for things which used to be free (such as lunches or swimming lessons, charging for tickets to the school play, a push at 'fund raising').

wintertimeisfun Tue 13-May-14 13:12:02

i thought it odd too as i didn't think we would have to start to pay until 1st september. dh thinks it is the way they have worked it out. their letter gives varying options as to how to pay but i am guessing that people who are less well off ( such as ourselves) opt for this rather than pay ie by term. i have sent them an email asking them as to why we have to start paying three months earlier. they haven't responded yet but in the original letter they said something about how by doing it in advance it saves us having to pay fees or something.. i have no doubts about the school, it is a very old (over 400 years or so) and established, can't imagine it suddenly closing, that's the least of my worries grin but i can see that it does seem a bit odd

wintertimeisfun Tue 13-May-14 13:14:15

lady we had to pay a large deposit too (£450 i think) ages ago, i'd forgotten about that..

LadySybilLikesCake Tue 13-May-14 13:15:12

I pay monthly and it's always at the start of the academic year, just after ds has gone back, so 14th September and the 14th of each month thereafter.

LadySybilLikesCake Tue 13-May-14 13:18:03

Don't forget about it! grin Do they knock it off the first term's fees? This may help as you may be able to pay the term in one go at the start of the year rather then now, and just save some for the following term and do the same. IIRC, ds's school did this (refunded at the start of the academic year) but some others knock it off the last term's fees (pain if your child starts at 3, and leaves at 18)

wintertimeisfun Tue 13-May-14 13:20:18

ah, interesting re looking for signs of financial struggle but from what little i know, there are alot of older staff there, some are still there from when dh was. they own vast amounts of land, no selling off there, lunches etc are included. as for the other things ie equipement/repairs, no idea. i'll go with the flow. i worry about LOTS of things, terrible worried but this oddly enough isn't something i would worry about, not as it stands anyway

wintertimeisfun Tue 13-May-14 13:23:20

my head's full of it but from memory, i think they refund the £450 when she leaves in 7 odd years....that'll be a treat then smile

Bowlersarm Tue 13-May-14 13:24:30

That does seem early, but I don't think it would necessarily make alarm bells ring. Maybe they are trying a different system.

OP, I wouldnt have believed that we would be able to see all three of our dcs through to the end of senior school when we started paying fees when they were two and a half. Some years have been really difficult, and some terms we have had to plead for longer to pay, but we don't have many more years to go and I'm so pleased we went down that route, despite the worrying times. As each term went by, I tended to think of it as another one under our belt, and a term less to worry about. Touch wood, we are financially in a good place at the moment with just a few more years left.

DH and I very much aware it has been our choice to pay for their education, and I have resolved not to make the DC feel eternally grateful, guilty, etc, as DPils have done with DH!

Hobnobissupersweet Tue 13-May-14 13:27:16

Not necessarily a sign of struggle at the school at all, both the senior privates my dcs have gone to, plus another 4 that friends dcs attend all issue bills now so that the whole of the fees for the September term are paid prior to the start of term . It is definitely the norm around here, and all of these schools are financially very sound.

MrsWinnibago Tue 13-May-14 13:28:32

I remember it well OP. My DD went to a private prep on a heavy bursary and the cost was terrifying. We took her out in year 3 in the end...partly because of money and partly because she wasn't happy. But is this secondary school? If it is, I think you'll have to suck it up a bit...perhaps look at getting a job in addition to your self employed work so that you have some more income?

SanityClause Tue 13-May-14 13:36:40

I have had experience of paying fees at four different independent schools.

At two of them, fees were termly in advance, billed and payable in the first week of term.

At the other two, it is possible to pay monthly (at one, you pay 10 instalments, and miss June and July, at the other 12 instalments). So asking for fees in this way is not unusual. Of the four schools, these are the two least likely to be in financial difficulty, BTW.

cathyandclaire Tue 13-May-14 13:56:41

Our DDs' school (apparently financially secure according to annual reports etc) has always taken the first monthly instalment in June...not much longer for us now so I'll be eyeing the cafe in Selfridges grin
Well done to your DD!

wintertimeisfun Tue 13-May-14 16:06:42

thanks ladies. your answers have really helped. just booked her uniform fitting appointment, really excited for her. be worth every penny :0)

LadySybilLikesCake Tue 13-May-14 17:03:28

Watch out for the uniform. If you can get the large items second hand then I'd do this, it will save you a fortune. The school may have a shop smile

ChocolateWombat Tue 13-May-14 18:06:59

Also, if you have money saved up, ask if there is a fees in advance scheme. If you can pay 2 years in advance, you may get a discount or pay at the current rate rather than the new rate for the next academic years. Bearing in mind fees increase a lot,this is worth it when interest rates in savings account are so low.

I think you mentioned you have been saving up and have a fund. If so, paying monthly might not be the best option as there is sometimes a fee attached to these monthly schemes.

Well worth asking about fees in advance, as even if there is no official scheme, Bursars might be willing to consider it on a case by case basis.

Must say, paying before you have even started seems odd to me. Look at your terms and conditions about payment and see if it is mentioned.

wintertimeisfun Tue 13-May-14 18:33:21

i think it makes sense now that by paying three months in advance it means that when she starts we would have paid for that month (september) in full. we got a letter through this morning of the fees, seems they have just gone up quite a bit too however the monthly amount once broken down doesn't include any additional amounts when paying monthly as opposed to ie per term. dh and i feel more comfortable about paying for it per month than per term, same as ie the mortgage. we have always been careful with money and thus have tended to save over the years rather than spend alot. we both know that it will be harder to save over the next 7 years but do have savings for months that are tight. i am a dealer (antiques & collectables) and do a weekly market (among other things) whilst dh has two jobs. i don't have time to take on another job & wouldn't want to tbh. i just need to relax into the ritual, be an experience grin

outtolunchagain Tue 13-May-14 18:36:34

Paying monthly is very common and most schools operate a scheme, paying 3 months before you start is most unusual I would have thought

wintertimeisfun Tue 13-May-14 18:36:52

ladysybil the school does have a uniform shop, already made a fitting appointment. i have already told dd that she will have a blazer & tunics etc one size too big so it lasts grin (only joking). uniform is fine, it's the spending lots of money on darn sport related bollocks. dd HATES sport and will do as little as she can get away with...

LadySybilLikesCake Tue 13-May-14 18:37:31

Oh, that sounds like fun, wintertime smile Do you specialise in anything?

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