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How you afford private school fees?

(140 Posts)
notsurehowtodothis Fri 20-Jan-17 16:07:11

This isn't intended to be a state vs. private school debate. We are just looking at all the options locally for our two DCs including both state and private schooling and, as our local private schools are in the region of £15-18k per child per year, I just wondered for those of you who pay for private schooling, especially for more than one child, how you find it (as in, what's it like, not 'where' you find it!) making such significant payments each year? And if you've found any great ways to make the payments easier? DH and I only have three viable kidneys between us so options there are limited.....

SoupDragon Fri 20-Jan-17 16:15:52

People all earn different amounts so it is impossible to say.

crazycatguy Fri 20-Jan-17 16:21:03

There are school fees plans which allow monthly payment if the whole up front chunk bothering you is an issue.

I think one's even called 'school fees plan'

notsurehowtodothis Fri 20-Jan-17 16:28:59

Thanks soup then let me ask another way. In what financial circumstances have you found it comfortable to pay for private schooling?

We are very fortunate income-wise, although nowhere near the 'money is no object category, so £36k a year of post-tax earnings is still quite a whack to us.

notsurehowtodothis Fri 20-Jan-17 16:29:30

Thanks crazy.

Twinkladdictmum Fri 20-Jan-17 16:31:15

People have different priorities and ideas about acceptable comfort. You could mortgage to the ears to pay, for example.

nocampinghere Fri 20-Jan-17 16:32:08

we remortgaged and put money £100k aside for 2 DDs which takes the sting out of it. (secondary only)

i could ask how do people afford multiple luxury holidays a year at 10 grand a pop? some just do.

Artandco Fri 20-Jan-17 16:35:52

We have two in private school. A) stay in smaller rental so extra money isn't spent on large accomadation. B) earn well x2 incomes c) full time earning but only part time childcare paid for d) both grandparents pay 20%. So we only have to find 60%. (They live far away and figured if closer they would spend that per year on days out and stuff with the kids, so pay for education instead)

notsurehowtodothis Fri 20-Jan-17 16:36:59

Okay, clearly this is not a question people are receptive to. All I was asking was for personal experiences, but thank you all for taking the time to reply at least.

jelliebelly Fri 20-Jan-17 16:38:53

I'm not quite sure what you're asking? I havd 2 at private school. We have a sizeable mortgage too. We both earn well but don't drive fancy cars or holiday abroad if that's what you mean.

notsurehowtodothis Fri 20-Jan-17 16:41:55

Thanks jellie and artandco.

Art thanks for the breakdown - what lovely Grandparents and such a good idea.

Twinkladdictmum Fri 20-Jan-17 16:42:27

Well it is a piece of string question though isnt it?

My friend has two at private school at £15k a year each, and a house bigger than ours. Their income is less but they have a mahoosive mortgage on interest only, which will hopefully be paid off when her inlaws die.

I wouldnt sleep at night but they think it is worth it.

notsurehowtodothis Fri 20-Jan-17 16:47:19

Thanks Twinkle, it is indeed, but those kind of examples are very helpful

And I'm with you. I couldn't sleep for worry with that.

hmcAsWas Fri 20-Jan-17 16:52:34

Big Salary. Not meant to be unhelpful - just factual

Katelocks Fri 20-Jan-17 16:57:59

I always pay the summer term from my bonus (which is paid in March) and usually bank the autumn term at the same time. So then it's just the spring term that I have to pay from monthly income.

I'm currently on an overseas assignment so my employer pays most of the school fees (autumn and spring terms) and again I just pay the summer term from my bonus.

I suppose it could be a bit risky relying on my bonus but I've had one every year. If I didn't get a bonus would save a bit every month or use a credit card or savings if I had to.

notsurehowtodothis Fri 20-Jan-17 16:58:16

hmcAsWas that's genuinely not as unhelpful as you think it is! smile Thank you

00100001 Fri 20-Jan-17 17:02:10

You should bear in mind the "hidden" extra costs of independent schools.

Obvious ones are uniform, paid activities etc

Not so obvious and may have to pay for
Sports equipment
Exam fees
Annual fee rises

Costly "extras"
School trips (often to far flung places)
Entrance /registration fees

Never budget based on the fees alone smile

MollyHuaCha Fri 20-Jan-17 17:04:58

Schools fees are completely unaffordable for many people - it's completely out of the question. But for a few people, it is possible to find the money to pay if a fee paying education is wanted. In these cases, it can help to shop around. 'Top' public schools charge £34k per pupil per year for boarding. A minor independent day school might come in at less than £10k per pupil per year. Though to a large extent you might get what you pay for.

Next there are scholarships and bursaries which may or may not be means tested. They can reduce the fees by anything from nothing at all (you take the scholarship as an honour, but do not benefit financially) right down to all fees plus uniform and extras fully paid for by the school, though this is rare. Most scholarships are in the 10% - 50% bracket.

Next there are the family's priorities: what's more important - a large home, nice car collection, expensive holidays, independent education?

Some families have grandparents pay towards school fees. I don't think parents could ask for this. I think grandparents would have to offer.

There are also subsequent children to think about. Two or three children clearly double or treble the bill and sibling discounts are usually pretty derisory.

I know families who consider grammar schools as good as independents and a private school might be seen as a stepping stone towards entering a grammar. If a child passes the grammar school entrance exam they go. If their siblings do not pass, they remain at fee paying school.

Anyone toying with a few paying school needs to have a plan in place for where the money is coming from. Some schools have sharp fee increases as children enter each new school year. What was a really affordable nursery and reception place can soon become a nightmarish year 5 bill.

Lastly, you need to check which extras are included, exam fees etc. I have DCs at different independent sixth forms. At the well known school, we are charged a lot of extras, for example charity donations, alumni society, materials, breakages, weekend activities, hotel and meal costs for a national sports championship last weekend. My DC at the less well known place brought home a permission letter for me to sign yesterday. It was for an upcoming extra curricular trip away which includes a two night hotel stay and all costs are covered by the school.

Duckstar Fri 20-Jan-17 17:06:50

At my DS school I would say fees are funded in the following ways:

- Help from Grandparents (ranging from all of fees to 1 k per term
- Low outgoings - no mortgage on property, get property with job and hence can use money for fees. Interest only mortgage.
- Work at school (school gives large discount)
- Both parents work and few luxuries

Actually very few parents are mega wealthy and have the fees just lying round. Most parents both work (and school geared up for this - care from 7.30-6.30).

We are also in grammar school area, so lots of parents pay for fees hoping to get children into grammar school at 11.

sazzy5 Fri 20-Jan-17 17:15:57

I know a few parents rent and have small properties with many siblings sharing a room. It is really a personal thing, some choose to live a tight life to give their kids the best (they think) they can. Others have grandparents funding the fees.
We saved all the way through primary to be able to send ours private at secondary school. Our primary schools are pretty good in this area whereas the secondary aren't up to much.

KindDogsTail Fri 20-Jan-17 17:16:47

Monthly payments, so they go out of the bank as a standing order with other main bills. You can only spend the little that's left.

It is very difficult and can leave you with so little money you can hardly function as a family. New clothes, a car, treats and so on may become something you do without.

Some city day schools make fees as low as they possibly can and plough everything back into the school trust. Their fees can be a little less - more like £10,000. Some have bursaries, but do take your equity in your house into account so it is not just your income that will decide eligibility.

The fees go up every year, at a much faster rate than inflation.

notsurehowtodothis Fri 20-Jan-17 17:25:48

Thanks everyone, this is all very helpful. Sazzy that's our position in terms of local state opportunities. I just have this (daft) romantic notion of the children being at school with many of the same kids from Prep to Upper Sixth but that of course in itself practically doubles the cost.

Enidblyton1 Fri 20-Jan-17 17:28:37

At my DC's school we have the following....
- extremely wealthy people who have made millions from property development/running their own businesses
- high earners (bankers/lawyers etc with salaries of £200k+)
- fees paid by grandparents or family trust funds (so the parents of the children may not have much disposable income at all)
- children of teachers (they receive 50% off fees)
- parents who both work full time and just about manage to afford £15k a year fees by not spending much on holidays/cars/house etc

I'd say the latter category are only about 10% of parents at DD's school. Grandparents/family money seems to feature quite highly.

ChestnutsRoastingOnAnOpenFire Fri 20-Jan-17 17:30:22

We have 1 in secondary (went to state primary) fees currently £16K PA. We both work, good income but there are some seriously wealthy people there for whom the fees are small change. Pay monthly from salary and have a couple of years fees put by in savings, plus hefty income insurance in case lose jobs. Mortgage isn't too bad and we'll pay off by the end of schooling. Before we committed I worked out potential best and worst case fee increases based on previous years. Most costs are in our fees, exception being uniform, school bus, exam fees (when time comes). It does worry me a bit. I would remortgage (release equity) to keep her there as it is fab.

Crumbs1 Fri 20-Jan-17 17:41:42

Be careful of assumptions. Small independents may be shockingly bad - unqualified teachers, failures from state schools, limited curriculum and outdated teaching methods. Do not assume state is worse - teachers are likely to be much better in a comprehensive compared to independent.
We have significant experience of both sectors.
Independent brings an elite cohort of 'people like us' but fail to educate about the wider society. Independent brings good networks which persist into adulthood and confers advantage. Bright kids do well wherever but just above average kids probably do better in smaller classes.

How do you pay? Large income, grandparents, family trust. Make friends with an independent school head who can offer 'scholarships' and bursaries. Means testing in independent can be ridiculously generous if they want your child. Included in means testing can be other children's university fees, car costs, Aga running costs, second home expenses. You can, if lucky, end up showing hardly any disposable income.

Be careful of additional costs - trips, uniform, instruments and lessons, parties and social commitments for child and parents, 'voluntary costs', exams. You might be better going for state with extra spending on music tuition, sports coaching and tutoring.

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