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Fees - what would you do?

(43 Posts)
notsayinganything Fri 17-Feb-17 11:40:40

DD1 is in Year 2 at a primary school DH and I dislike, and has been offered a place for Year 3 at a local prep which we love and applied to almost on a whim, to see if she could get in. DD2 won't start school until September 2018. DH and I cannot afford the fees at the school DD1 has been offered.

SIL has offered to pay 100% of the fees for DD1, and any fees for DD2 at whatever pre-prep we choose, continuing for both kids until they finish school. That leaves us paying for uniform, meals, extra curriculars, trips, and transport (I think that's it?) which DH and I believe is doable. In return, she'd like to be able to have dinner with us every couple of weeks, and 'offer opinions on educational choices' confused. It's all feeling very Gilmore Girls.

Obviously we're very grateful to her, and DH can't seem to see any negatives. He and SIL were very close growing up, she comes by every couple of months, and my DDs adore her. I'm worried about whether she will deliver what she says - she is a hospital doctor hoping to make consultant in a few years time - what if she doesn't so presumably doesn't get the extra money she is hoping for? She's currently single and not planning on having children, but what if that changes? If she stops paying fees, we don't have any way of making up the shortfall. I'm also a bit doubtful about the 'offering opinions' thing, although I will say that she is a lot more intelligent and educated than DH and me, I don't want her to say things like 'go to XXX school or I'll stop paying fees' or 'do XXX gcses or I'll stop paying fees'.

DH thinks I'm being mad and unfair, and to be fair to her SIL has no track record of weird or controlling behaviour. I've known her (although never been close) since she was 17, and she's always said that education is one of the most important things you ever give a child. On the one hand I think there's so many ways that this can go wrong, but on the other hand it feels like I would be mad to let the opportunity go. Any advice?

DaphneDeLaFontaine Fri 17-Feb-17 11:43:36

Hmmm. I'm not sure but I would be very wary.

QuiteLikely5 Fri 17-Feb-17 11:46:09

I doubt her salary is enough to support two DC through private ed!!! After housing/bills/food she will have nothing to live on!

Bizarre!!!

Kennington Fri 17-Feb-17 11:47:21

It is precarious if she decides to have kids herself.
Unless she is doing a fair whack of locum and private work paying for x2 kids in prep is going to be v expensive. I pay 20k all in for 1.

Hellmouth Fri 17-Feb-17 11:47:41

That is totally Gilmore Girls!

What educational choices? Would she want to interfere in choosing secondary schools, further education subjects, universities? I think you should clarify that with her.

I personally wouldn't take the money, I hate taking money from people, even if it is offered without obligation to pay it back.

Newtssuitcase Fri 17-Feb-17 11:48:37

She's a single hospital doctor but not a consultant? Can she even afford the fees for two lots of independent school fees?

Personally I wouldn't. To have two children in private school you are looking at circa £30k out of taxed income. That's an enormous chunk of income for a doctor who is not even a consultant.

If you're going to accept you need to be prepared that you could have to pull them out at any time. Plus you will need to have a term's fees for each put by just in case she decides to pull the plug since most schools will make you pay a term's notice.

MiniMaxi Fri 17-Feb-17 11:50:20

I'd be uncomfortable with that too

As pp's have said, what if her situation changes?

Brokenbiscuit Fri 17-Feb-17 11:54:55

It's a very generous offer on her part, but as you say, her circumstances may change in the future and there is nothing to stop her from changing her mind. That's a risk that you'd have to accept, I suppose.

I would also be wary of the opinions that she might wish to "offer". As you say, she could hold you to ransom over the school fees if you didn't choose to accept her opinions. However, you say that she has no history of controlling behaviour. Can you ask her what her expectations would be if she felt strongly about something and you disagreed?

On balance, I think I'd worry that there might be too many strings attached to this arrangement, and that your SIL's circumstances might change in the future, even if she doesn't anticipate this at present. I guess it boils down to whether or not you think the private school is worth the risk.

I'm not a huge fan of private education in any case, so would probably look for alternatives in the state sector if I were you. However, if you really like the prep school, then perhaps you need to think through contingencies - what would happen if your SIL withdrew the funding for any reason, and they had to move back into the state sector? Would you feel that a few years in the private sector had been worthwhile?

SantasLittleMonkeyButler Fri 17-Feb-17 12:15:28

I would say no. Definitely. SIL's life is very likely to change over the years, she is reasonably likely to meet a partner, possibly have DCs of her own. Can you imagine how any new partner of hers would feel about such a large part of her income, and therefore their combined income, going to you each month? It would be very relevant to them as may adversely affect their own DCs education plans (if they have any DCs) or something like being able to buy a house together.

Also, I would not want a third party having a life long say in my child's education.

Why on earth did you apply to a school you couldn't afford rather than looking for a better state option?

cookie77 Fri 17-Feb-17 12:25:04

Agree with others - I would be very wary and considering a 'no'. I would also not want another adult making decisions about my DCs education.

We are a 2 consultant household (albeit new consultants - last 5 years) and we have DS1 at a local private school with DD1 moving there in September. We can only manage this by being very astute and careful with our finances - I would be very surprised if your SIL could afford 2 sets of fees on her own??

If your DD1 will be starting in Sept 17 (?) then surely your SIL will still be on junior doctor wages?

homebythesea Fri 17-Feb-17 12:45:35

If your SIL wants to help her nieces financially it would be better for her to set up ISA's for your girls (or some other savings vehicle) that might contribute towards their Uni expenses and/or future home. This creates flexibility if her circumstances change over the next 15 years but satisfies her wish to help out. As far as schools go you should explore state options - its really not worth becoming beholden to someone else for something that actually might not be that much better than the state sector.

Newtssuitcase Fri 17-Feb-17 13:04:39

As a PP has said it is difficult to afford even with two high earners. DH and I are both on very good salaries (six figures) and school fees are still a big drain on our income.

I think the savings idea is good. Put the money away every term, and if by the time they are at secondary level it is enough to cover school fees for secondary then great, you will have a lump sum and less concern about her pulling the plug.

I would also agree that the "added value" is not necessarily worth it either. If I could turn the clock back I wouldn't necessarily put my DSs through private for the infant and junior years. I'd rather have paid off the mortgage with that money. The school is good but not "you could have been mortgage free" good.

viques Fri 17-Feb-17 13:13:18

I am having difficulty getting my head around why you applied to this school 'on a whim' knowing you can't afford the fees for one dc let alone two. Presumably this 'whim' involved, phoning for an appointment to visit, visiting, discussing your child with the school, filling out an application form, possibly paying a deposit, your child having an interview/assessment. As a year 3 child she will have been well aware of what was happening.

Choosing to change school is not like upgrading your brand of cornflakes at the supermarket, it is not a 'whim'. you have been very unfair to your child.

Newtssuitcase Fri 17-Feb-17 13:13:53

Yes didn't you have to pay a deposit?

5moreminutes Fri 17-Feb-17 13:16:45

Have you actually told your dsil what the fees are and on what scale they increase each couple of school years? She might be able to afford infant school fees but not two sets of senior school fees...

Bluntness100 Fri 17-Feb-17 13:23:17

Why did you apply if you knew you could not afford it? What has then caused her to make the offer? It's very strange 🙄

notsayinganything Fri 17-Feb-17 13:51:46

Thank you everyone for the replies. I hadn't really thought about how SIL could afford it, I just assumed she could. DH didn't ask her, so I will talk to her this evening. We'll definitely be having a discussion about alternative savings plans too.

As for why we applied - DD can't stand her primary school, and has been asking to move for over a year. There is another state primary about 20 minutes from us that is Ofsted outstanding but very oversubscribed and we are not in catchment, so haven't been offered a place, and a Ofsted satisfactory school (like our current one) about 30 minutes away by car, but DH and I are not convinced that that school is a good idea - it's a similar environment to the one she currently dislikes, and we're far enough away that social activities would be a lot more difficult.

We put her in for the 7+ partially as a confidence boost for her (bright but shy, had issues with class teachers ignoring her or refusing to give her different/more difficult work once she's finished the set work) and partially as a 'let's just see what happens and figure it out from there'. DD understood that we almost certainly would not be able to take the place, and still wanted to try. My mum did the same for me at 11+, I did the exam and then she rejected the grammar school places, and MIL did the same for SIL but not DH. Yesterday DH told SIL that DD had been offered a place and we were going to have to reject it, and this morning she phoned him with this offer.

I will talk to SIL later and try and make more sense of this.

Newtssuitcase Fri 17-Feb-17 14:10:15

Unless she has a very high level of savings or income from elsewhere then I can't see how she could possibly afford it on a junior doctor salary. I suspect she doesn't realise how much the fees are.

Lets say she earns £60k. That's a take home of £42k assuming no pension contributions, student loan etc (which is unrealistic since she will at least have pension contributions). Even if the school fees were low and only £12k per child (which even if they start out that low, won't be the case at senior level), that means that she is left with living on 18k. Take out rent or mortgage, travel, food, utilities, Council tax and she has little to no money left.

1805 Fri 17-Feb-17 14:17:50

Some schools offer a pay-up-front deal where you can pay a huge lump sum to cover the next 5 years. Would she be able to do something like that?

Hoppinggreen Fri 17-Feb-17 15:55:29

Applying for a school,you can't afford it a bit silly really and quite unfair on your DD.
There is NO WAY I wouid accept the offer from Sil. She is already putting conditions on it and it will end badly.
Also, it sounds like she is still pretty young and could face a lot of life changes in the future that could affect her earnings and how upset wouid you all be if you had to withdraw your DD from her new school ( that she presumably would love) and send her back to the old school she hated - assuming there was even a place there.
It's a very very bad idea

carabos Fri 17-Feb-17 16:00:55

Like others have said, your SiL has no idea of the cost. Friend's father offered to pay fees for her two DC to get them out of their awful school, but backtracked at warp speed when she told him what it would cost.

On the point of applying on a whim, we did that with DS1, he came third in the exam and got a bursary.

Isthislazyorsensible Fri 17-Feb-17 16:21:23

I have just read half of your post and none of the replies and my knee jerk reaction is a big no. She is likely to have children for a start and will naturally want to pay for her own brood.

ChocolateWombat Fri 17-Feb-17 18:21:14

You and your DH sound like heads in the sand types.

It was crazy to apply for a school you couldn't afford. You have raised your own hopes falsely along with those of your DD. And your DH is keen on the offer from SIL without really considering the implications.....and there are many. TBH, it all sounds rather immature and naieve.

There are huge no.s of issues to consider, any of which having a 'no' answer could easily be a deal breaker.
- Does she know the price of the fees at the moment and that they are likely to increase by 5% each year, plus there are jumps at Ayr 3, Yr 7, with secondary often costing double that of Prep?
- Can you expect her to be able to guarantee paying for years and years and to not have any change of circumstances which means she won't be able to continue to do so, or will put her own finances under ridiculous pressure
- can you guarantee she won't become interfering and that the money won't have strings attached?
- have you seriously thought about the implications of starting g and then pulling her out due to cost?

The more I think about this, the more I think you are a bit daft. You have got yourself this far in the process and are now finding it hard to walk away. But you must, because you can't afford it. Like most people you can't afford it and so you can't have it. Simple.
This offer from your SIL is generous, but probably not fully thought through I to the long term for 2 kids and their 13 years each if education.
It's not like an offer from a GP who can assess their finances and be more sure of what will come later in life and if it's affordable.....this is an offer from an adult of a similar age to yourself, whose personal and financial position into the future is unknown, which makes the level of commitment she is suggesting to you unwise. And for you to accept it would be selfish in my view, because of the very serious potential implications for her particularly, but also your DD. She may well meet someone who isn't happy at the bulk of her income going to fund the education of 2 other kids, or have kids of her own. To tie up her finances so that her own choices later would be restricted would be wrong.

I suggest you have a serious chat and show extreme gratitude for the offer, but put her off....not with a sense of huge regret in your voice, so that she insists even more, but with genuine concern for her. Forget private primary. Get saving hard now towards secondary and if she wants to save something toward that, then fine. However, you need to be responsible for any school fees and if by secondary it's unaffordable, Then you need to accept it and not go applying for schools you cannot afford.

I think you've got carried away with the dream....but it's time to rein it in and start to be a bit more mature and realistic.

Newtssuitcase Fri 17-Feb-17 18:44:11

Focus on secondary

Each child will need seven years of fees.

Fees will be circa £15k each

So each child will need £105,000 just for secondary. If you add primary in to that they you are adding another 7 years at around £12k so an extra £84,000 each.

If your SIL wants to give your DC £400,000 then great (but I suspect that being realistic about the figures like this will make her realise she's been a little hasty with the offer - there's generous and then there's stupid)

Newtssuitcase Fri 17-Feb-17 18:44:37

In fact I'm not even sure why I'm doing this for my own children now that Ive written it down like that...

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