Applying for independent school prep bursary(23 Posts)
Hi there, I'm hoping some people can share their experiences if they've applied for bursary from a private prep school for year 1 onwards, with a reasonable salary.
In paper, both my husband and I look like we earn quite a bit - around £70k but of course, two maternity leaves later, plus every single penny I earn going into nursery fees for my two children, and most my husband's wages going into mortgate for a small-ish but comfortable house, we have nothing left in our savings. We share one cheap-ish practical family car and never go on holidays. I think we live a really good life but am I now being ridiculous hoping to send my children to a good private school?
My husband says that I'm living in la-la land hoping for some help with the prep school fees for both our children. Is this right? If it is then I will end my search for bursary for private schools. It's just that my siblings and I have all grown up doing academically well and have always received scholarships/bursary all our educational lives from primary school to universities, but that's us in another country(apart from university, we all got scholarships to study here in England). Does it work the same way in England for primary/secondary school? Thanks.
Well, I have 50% bursaries for both my children next year at an independent primary (Yr 2 and Yr 3). We have a LOT less money coming in that your family though - so I guess it depends. I think what generally happens is you apply for a place, and then the bursary, and the school will means test you and decide how much to offer. They will offer to two children at the same time (or at least, the one my children are starting at did.)
Think it depends where you live and the school but realistically unless your dc show some innate talent which only that school can nurture (music, sport, academic) the cut off for financial assistance is often a relatively low income ie. 45k ish and assumes you have minimal savings and assets. you need ot speak to the Bursar.
I have also heard of £45k ish as the cut off point. I dont think you will get any help tbh. It is interesting that you list all these things you have including £70k income and then wonder if perhaps you would be eligble. The average salary is £26k per year so sadly I think that about sums it up.
However there is no harm in applying. Why dont you call beforehand, say what your salaries are and see what the response is.
That said - prep school fees are not really much more expensive than a private nursery - and are often cheaper...
Thank you for comments and confirmation that £70k income which we will eventually be on would mean that we wouldn't be eligible. In reality, we've never ever earned that in a year due to maternity leave and all the unpaid leave from loads of illnesses in the first few months of nursery when they catch every illness and pass it to me. My salary before we had children was less than £10k a year and I had a big promotion (same with husband who had a pay rise recently) which is why it suddenly looks like we're rich but we're actually not. I'm being overly ambitious so thank you as these comments have certainly been helpful (giving me a hard reality slap!).
On the whole, a bursary is less likely until a child hits Y3 and even then it tends to be Y7 where bursaries are offered. Boarding schools tend to offer the most but before Y3 it is difficult to tell if a child is very bright because they develop differently and the bright ones tend to stand out once all the kids can read and write - and reading early does not mean a child is the brightest in the class.
But, what have you got to lose?
Have you done the sums for the monthly fees (most places you can pay monthly now- and if not you could put away the percentage each month)? I am not expecting to pay much more at prep level per month than I do now for part time childcare. It does get much more expensive further up the line depending on what type of school you want but my first choice pre-prep is actually LESS in YR than our current childcare.
The problem is that it doesn't really matter what you spend your £70,000 salary on or how much of it you didn't get due to maternity leave etc. That is what you earn so that is what you are assessed against. I think it's highly unlikely that you'll get a bursary on that income. We manage to pay 2 sets of prep school fees on a similar joint income but have to save £1600 per month to do so. It's not easy but do-able with sacrifice/compromise.
You will not get a bursary with that level of income. Bursaries not common before year 3 and in many of the highly academic prep schools there are very few and in my DD's no bursaries at all. I think the cut off for Eton bursaries is around £70k, but then their fees are astronomical.
There are plenty of people that afford private prep for two children on £70k, as everybody has said the cost is about the same as full time nursery care. You will need a higher income than that to afford secondary school fees. Maybe you should save for secondary education instead?
It might not be worth your while to continue working with the nursery fees would that not free up money to pay for prep school ? That is what we did taking our income down to meet the criteria for a busary of 50%.
That said it is a struggle and I miss working.
However once all the children start prep I will of course go back and we can reconsider our options.
It sounds as if you may have had a lot of outgoings/not much opportunity to save now but that that might well change within the next few years. A child that is at prep school won't require nursery fees, hopefully your health will improve. So if your expenses go down, might it not be possible to pay those fees from your actual salary, even if you haven't been able to save much money so far?
A word of caution. Before you go down the prep school route, sit down and work out if you can afford the fees all the way through to 18.
Ealry years prep is no more expensive than daycare - although you will need to cover the long holidays if you are working. But the fees rise sharply at secondary and bursaries will be much harder to come by unless your children are very able and get scholarships.
Do you want to be in a position where you take your children out of private education at 11 or 13 because you cant afford the fees? I have seen this happen to a number of children and it isnt a good thing. I am a single parent of two kids in private school. I am committed to them staying in the system, but the fees are a big financial committment. I estimate that it will have cost about £200K per child by the time they leave school
The school will ask you questions such as:-
value of your home, size of your home - i.e. they would expect you to downsize your home prior to having a bursary.
value of your cars - again they would expect you to be driving a cheap run around prior to having a bursary.
whether you have a second home or investment anywhere
whether you have any savings or if the children have any savings
what your income was for the prior tax year - this one would be for your benefit - but beware that bursaries are means tested on an annual basis so if your p60 for last year says that your household income was £20k you will probably get a bursary for this academic year, but then next summer when you give the p60 that says this year it was £70k you will lose the bursary
Most bursaries are not percentages and are fixed amounts, this means that on a year on year basis the amount that you receive in relation to the fees is less.
Budget for around fee increases of 5% per annum, some schools are less, some schools are up to 10/12% per annum.
Also check the fees for the whole of prep - for example our local prep schools are
£2k per term for R-Y2
£3k per term for Y3
£4.5k per term for Y4-Y8
Therefore substantial jump from what initially paying.
Don't forget that it is also possible to do well academically in the state system.
We couldn't afford to pay school fees and dd has the additional disadvantage of missing a lot of school due to health problems, but I am still expecting her to do well and so is her school.
With your own educational background you will be in a good position to support your children whatever school they attend. But remember that other parents who themselves have gone to great sacrifices to give their children a private education will not be likely to tell you that cheaper options can be equally valid.
Each school has different threshholds so you need to check with the schools that you are interested in. I have come across schools that have income limit at £25K, and others over £70K. However it is usually on a sliding scale, so even if the limit is £70K, if you earned £60K you may only get 10% bursary. At DD's school the limit is £55K. As well as income, you have to fill in a rather detailed form with information such as mortgage, value of property, savings etc etc, so if you have a large amount of savings or equity in your house that may be taken into consideration also. At DD's school they use actual income for a previous tax year ie later this year we will complete form for bursary for year 2012-13, and it will be based on earnings for 2010-11 as that is the only complete year available at the time. You also have to complete the assessment every year so just because you qualified for a bursary of £X in the first year does not guarantee you will get the same or even similar in later years.
My son's bursary relies a lot on out goings and P60. So if you can prove you did not get what you were contracted to get you could still get a bursary. Lots of questions about mortgages, loans (eg for car if needed and student loans), cost of childcare etc are included. It could be worth looking into. Do remember if they are at school it may cost less than nursery childcare (esp at the start when fees are often lower) but do think about as they get older. My son is ending reception so they can give them out at a young age.
Why do you think other families should subsidise a school place for you, chocolatey?
I don't know anything about bursaries, but when I looked at this the cost of keeping a child in the baby unit at nursery was £1000 a year more expensive than having a girl doing 4 A-levels in the sixth form at DDs school. My school holiday childcare does not amount to £1000 so yes I was able to afford the school fees as I had afforded nursery.
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