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Level of family income required for private school fees?

(472 Posts)
TheABC Sat 14-Mar-15 19:48:31

Had an interesting discussion with DH over tea tonight, after reading in the independent supplement that the average cost of fees per term for a day boarder is 4k. We are approaching that in nursery fees for DS and it's a struggle. I can't imagine trying to juggle that sort of cost for two children over 7 or more years. However, clearly a lot of people are, as 6% of all UK pupils are privately educated and I doubt we have that many millionaires.

DH thinks the income ceiling is around the 80k mark, I think it could easily be lower, depending on family circumstances (e.g mortgage commitments). Who is right?

WastingMyYoungYears Sat 14-Mar-15 19:53:24

There are lots of threads on here that discuss this. Some people feel very strongly that they want their DC to have a private education, so they budget in other areas of their lives and manage on <<£80k. Others feel that they can afford it as they earn >>£80k. It's all down to personal circumstances (including # of children) and priorities.

WastingMyYoungYears Sat 14-Mar-15 19:55:27

Oh God, half of my post disappeared, and it doesn't make any sense confused.

Some people budget and manage on more modest incomes because they value private education; others have higher incomes and choose private education because they easily can.

TheABC Sat 14-Mar-15 20:03:36

Absolutely, wasting. However, in the same way nursery fees can force women out of the workplace, I wondered if there was a similar pain point for private education. I have read a lot about school fee inflation in recent years, with various articles saying it can now take up to half of a paying professional's wage (e.g. doctor or solicitor) just on fees. That leaves a bloody narrow subset who can afford to pay and presumably keep a roof over their heads (as house prices have also risen in the same period).

ipadmad Sat 14-Mar-15 20:10:34

Depends on the school and the number of children you are putting through private schooling. Also, some people are prepared to make sacrifices elsewhere - smaller house, less holidays away etc.

morethanpotatoprints Sat 14-Mar-15 20:27:56

I don't think there is a pain point tbh, because as each family situation is different so are the schools.
There are all types of private schools including some that are charities, or attract large bursaries.
Maybe these children don't make up much of the 6% but they do exist.

I met a couple once who had finally started to live in the late 50's they had sacrificed most things to pay fees for their child. Only the dh worked but they managed as only had the one child to pay for.

I suppose if you had both or even one person working, no debts including mortgage paid off and relatively small outgoing you could afford it.

NoArmaniNoPunani Sat 14-Mar-15 20:30:20

We have a combined income of 80k and have agreed that we'd rather have 2 children in state school than one in private. I don't think we could send 2 children to private school on our wage.

letsplayscrabble Sat 14-Mar-15 20:35:27

There are knock on costs, such as your before/after school childcare being more expensive if they need to drive if the school isn't local. I'm a GP married to a consultant with a significant private practice - school fees will add 20 years to our mortgage and our combined income is well above 80k.

JillyR2015 Sat 14-Mar-15 20:35:59

I pay £15k per child - day school GCSE year at present and used to pay for 5 children. Income has varied over the last 27 years over which I have continuously paid school fees so hard to generalise. I went to private school from age 4 and so have my children. It works for us. I accept not all women can afford to pay 5 sets of school fees but some of us can.

letsplayscrabble Sat 14-Mar-15 20:36:14

It depends where you are but 4k per term is on the low side in London. Many area pushing 6.

shouldbeasize10 Sat 14-Mar-15 20:38:56

We have 2 young DCs, both about to start pre-prep. Based on current fees of £3200 a term, we have settled on a figure of £86k pa needs to be earnt.

£86k gives us £3500 monthly household spend (we budget for literally everything), £20k a year school costs, plus a few £k spare, plus tax.

QuintessentiallyInShade Sat 14-Mar-15 20:41:51

We have a modest 3 bed end of terrace, drive an old Peugeot, rarely go on holidays other than visiting family. Our oldest is in an independent school, started at 11+. Fees are 5.5k per term, plus expensive uniform and around 1k per year for educational trips, Our youngest is still in year 5 in an RC primary, I dread to think er may soon have two sets of fees.

TheBeekeepersDaughter Sat 14-Mar-15 21:06:40

It's also worth remembering that a significant proportion of families do not pay for school fees from their earned income, so it doesn't really matter what their day to day earnings are. It's very common for fees to come from grandparents, through trust fund arrangements or from invested income.
I think that very few people can afford to pay multiple sets of fees without significant sacrifice. I work in a senior local government role and just one of my colleagues has chosen private schools. DH is a partner in a medium sized city law firm and he's the only lawyer of his generation in his team who sends his children to private school. In contrast, those 15-20 years ahead of him wouldn't have thought twice about it.

MrsCampbellBlack Sat 14-Mar-15 21:10:58

It is a different set of parents now who can afford school fees then when I was at school many years ago.

But there are a lot of grandparents paying for school fees or I've seen people downsizing property wise in order to free up money for fees.

School fees are a very expensive luxury.

JillyR2015 Sat 14-Mar-15 21:41:37

I don't know anyone in my sons' classes who is not paying school fees out of current income. I suppose there might be the occasional grandparent chipping in I would not know about. i suspect it depends on the area in which you live and type of school as to how people fund it.

I certainly don't think parents need to worry too much either way. If you cannot afford it or would rather spend your money on something else then find a good state school. 50% of children at Oxbridge come from state schools.

Also if you've paid for fuill time childcare for 3 under 5s as we did that is not too different from the cost of the school fees when they come so in a sense you are already paying the same sum so just carry on with it.

Loobylou3 Sat 14-Mar-15 21:53:07

We are just in the process of considering this for our only dd. To begin with it seemed like it would not be affordable, however, it would appear that we tend to spend/waste a significant part of our monthly income and really have nothing to show for it apart from bulging waist lines and a playroom that looks like a toy shop. By thinking carefully about what we really want we found out it is in fact an option. Our income is approx £84k.

TheABC Sat 14-Mar-15 23:01:37

Thanks, everyone. It's true, generational expectations are different. I was fortunate to go to boarding school on an army bursary and most of my friends parents were from modest professional backgrounds. Fast-forward today and double fees are giving most of my friends pause.

* JillyR *and shouldbesize, thanks for you frankness. I may have lost the argument with DH (he is looking smug), but it's been an interesting insight into the costs. I have no idea if we will go private, but it looks like I will be in good (if financially straightened) company if we do!

antimatter Mon 16-Mar-15 07:15:25

I think all depends on your bills and mortgage cost.
We were able to pay 2 sets of private fees when kids were in primary on not very high income but once in secondary fees were far to high. I remember year 6 fees were 12K and year 7 would have been 16. By then there were redundancies and soon me and my ex split. Sending a child to private school on single parent income... The only person I know who can do it s is a barrister.

Jackieharris Mon 16-Mar-15 07:28:10

Almost no one I knew from private school has been able to afford to send their own DCs to private school.

Doesn't say much about their education does it?

Ones who do go-

-no mortgage
-grandparents pay

JillyR2015 Mon 16-Mar-15 07:30:43

jacie, except me... I am not saying my being able to afford 5 sets of private school fees out of income is because I went to a private school but it might be (or could be my natural brilliance of course....)

NoArmaniNoPunani Mon 16-Mar-15 07:39:57

Doesn't say much about their education does it?

I think it says more about how the cost of living has increased. I went to private school, my mum was a SAHM to four children. But my parents made thousands on property and were able to keep increasing their mortgage to cover the fees. I'm a dentist, well educated but private school is out of my reach.

ElectraCute Mon 16-Mar-15 07:50:31

Well, for a start not everyone who sends their kids private does so purely in the hope that they will earn mountains of cash in later life - that's a very narrow way of looking at it jackieharris.

Furthermore, the cost of private education has risen enormously and so has the cost of living. Professional salaries that 20 years ago would have more than covered the cost, now don't.

granolamuncher Mon 16-Mar-15 08:08:17

What it says is that school fees have outpaced inflation to such an extent over the last 20 or so years that private schools have now priced themselves out of what used to be their natural donestic market, the salaried professional middle class.

Some of the top London schools have decided to target, and pander to, the international super rich now on their doorstep, abandoning the families of their former pupils who have chosen traditional professions unadorned with bonuses, share options etc. See eg the thread on SPGS.

Other formerly independent schools have found that there just aren't enough parents in their area who can afford to pay the fees, so they have backed into the state system, eg Liverpool College.

We've reached a tipping point, as illustrated by the number and length of threads on MN about fees and how to pay them. The consensus seems to be that you can't pay them from ordinary salaries any more. That is a huge change that has happened in the space of one generation.

Basically it's the fault of the schools themselves. Some well led schools have understood the need to keep costs and fees down but they are few and far between. The most expensive ones are in danger of becoming toxic brands.

FoodPorn Mon 16-Mar-15 08:24:16

+1 granolamuncher

Solicitor here, household income in excess of 80k mark mentioned and (in the absence of a lottery win) there's no way our children will go to private school. There's more to life than school fees and I don't want to sacrifice everything else in our lives to pay them. We'll be finding good state schools and using the cash saved (haha) to pay for activities, tutors, overseas adventures--, mortgage--.

LIZS Mon 16-Mar-15 08:29:01

It isn't purely about income though. If you have lower outgoings and savings, for example own your home or have received an inheritance, then income itself can be less directly relevant. For a child at secondary you are looking at 15k plus pa out of net income, so about 25k gross. If you can live off the balance then it is manageable.

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