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Private school - what percentage of salary do you spend

(65 Posts)
cluelessnewmum Sat 23-Sep-17 21:12:16

Am currently trying to work out whether we can afford private school without making our lives a misery.

We're lucky that for 1-2 dc we would be OK with fees. However, I'd ideally love to have a third dc, and the fees might be pushing it for 3...

If your dc are in private school, roughly what percentage of your take home household salary are you spending on fees?

Obviously will vary depending on your location, number of DCs etc but I'm trying to gauge when it starts to become a financially stupid thing to do, acknowledging everyone's outgoings are different too. But useful to get a yardstick from others.

Thanks for your help!

StinkPickle Sat 23-Sep-17 21:17:12

30,000 a year fees (10K per child) which is 10% of our income.

hiyasminitsme Sat 23-Sep-17 21:58:56

10k per child won't cover two terms in the SE let alone a year, so you need to check what your local schools cost first. then allow at least 5% per year fee inflation and work out what they'll be when your children are leaving.

FineOldCriminals Sat 23-Sep-17 22:05:46

Entire net second (6 figure) salary - public (boarding) school for 1 and boarding prep for the other. No family holidays, crap cars (no interest in leasing) and also not much rampant consumerism in this house grin

In terms of percentage of take home pay overall, about 45%- lucky that both have partial scholarships, so extras and uniform are generally covered.

JoJoSM2 Sat 23-Sep-17 23:33:25

FineOldCriminals, if the second 6-figure salary goes on fees, does your first 6-figure salary go on living expenses but doesn't stretch to a family holiday or a decent car hmm

cluelessnewmum Sun 24-Sep-17 10:00:41

Thanks for responses so far.

I've already had a detailed look at the school fees in my area, which unfortunately are well above £10k as you say hiyasminitsme. I've also factored in as many extras as I can think of (holiday cover, activities, after school cover uniform etc). Hadn't factored in 5% fee increase though sad

Main difficulty is trying to work out what I can earn, I used to earn pretty good money but for various reasons I can't do that role anymore.

Fineoldcriminals how does a partial scholarship work, especially in prep? I'm assuming scholarships aren't for the whole fee anyway (only kid I know that got a sport scholarship I think was only 10% of fees and not sure he retained it the whole time).

Winchester2018 Sun 24-Sep-17 10:48:37

We spend about one third of our joint net income,£32,000 per annum (including extras) for our sons boarding prep.

From next year that will be approx £40,000 when our son starts senior school.The education his is receiving makes it worth every penny.

LoniceraJaponica Sun 24-Sep-17 10:55:20

Wow. Those figures are eye wateringly high.

Do you have a safety net in case of job redundancy or illness?

Admittedly, we looked at private education when DD was in year 6, but decided we couldn't afford it when our bursary application was turned down. She subsequently went to the local comprehensive, did very well in her GCSEs and is now in year 13.

EmpressoftheMundane Sun 24-Sep-17 11:50:37

Next year, when two are private, secondary day school in London, it will be 40%+ of our combined take home pay.

SleepFreeZone Sun 24-Sep-17 11:55:32


amousehaseatenmypaddlingpool Sun 24-Sep-17 12:03:48

100% of my salary after tax. Fortunately DH covers everything else comfortably. I'd say maybe he earns x10 what I do.

We've only just started though so I know this will change!

We have insurance and worst comes to the worst, savings to ensure we can see DS through to graduation.

Then he's on his own grin

cluelessnewmum Sun 24-Sep-17 12:50:29

Thanks for replies, I'm reassured there are some people in a similar boat - rough reasonably conservative estimate is that it would be in the region of 35% of income for 3, but that's only up to age 11,as it feels like I can't really be accurate as secondary so far off and who knows what fees will be and our earning potential will be in a decade.

I'll look into insurance but premiums must be hefty I assume? Redundancy not a problem as DH industry is one where there's a lot of well paid freelance,illness would be but in that scenario private school wouldn't be the only change.

Hmm it's such a big commitment and alot of pressure on dh especially but my state education was really poor despite me ending up doing OK, I can't help think it's worth it.

ChocolateWombat Sun 24-Sep-17 13:54:11

There have been lots of threads on this before.

In the end, the % spent on fees isn't the key thing. The key thing is whether you have the income to live to the standard you require after paying school fees. This is determined by income, but also size of other outgoings such as mortgage and perhaps nursery fees.

It is possible for someone to spend 50% of their income on school fees and for this to be okay, because they have tiny other outgoings - no mortgage or other significant expenses. That 50% on fees could amount to a small amount or it could be the cost of 5 kids at a top boarding school and be close to £200k - but if you earn £400k and have not many outgoings,nit could be affordable. Alternatively, spending £12k on school fees could be just 20% of income if you earn £60k, but with a mortgage of £2k per month and other significant costs, those £12k fees might be out of the question.

So OP, after you have paid the school fees, and paid the mortgage and other bills and put aside for other things you see as necessary.....does it all add up? You maybe prepared to make some sacrifices on holidays and cars etc. Does it then add up?

Fffion Sun 24-Sep-17 13:59:03

We are ok now, but have dipped into out mortgage reserve for several years to cover fees.

ChocolateWombat Sun 24-Sep-17 14:33:47

You can project ahead with school fees.
Look at the points where hikes if fees occur (often Yr1, Yr3, Yr7 or Yr9) plus you can add 5% per year compounded for fee inflation. Often the fees of secondary school have risen by nearly 50% over the 7 years children are there.
I guess you can also try to project ahead with salary and also things like mortgage payments...but these will be less certain.

Having contingency money makes the whole thing much less scary. Lots of people like to have at least a year of fees in the back that they can draw on at anytime, or to pay fees in advance for a couple of years, so if there is a change in circumstance there is wriggle room. Paying from salary alone on a monthly basis does make you quite vulnerable.

The sooner you can start putting money aside (if you don't already have a pot of money for school fees) then the better. Don't just think that you have X years until you have to start paying.....start putting money aside right now. Every £ will be a £ you don't have to find from monthly income and just make things a little less dependent on salary.

OP - can you tell us something about your expenditure? Mortgage? Childcare costs? These are the things which can tip the balance between it being affordable or not.

JoJoSM2 Sun 24-Sep-17 17:32:00

If it's likely to be a little tight, have you considered going with a state primary and then moving your children into the independent sector for senior school? That way you could have most of the fees set aside before you even start paying. I think that paying fees out of your income as it comes in can be stressful or could put you in a vulnerable position.
Also, I know you're not entirely happy with your experience of the state school you went to, but don't imagine that independent schools are perfect. They most definitely aren't.

QuirkyGoose Sun 24-Sep-17 17:42:25

I would stick to 2 DC. Fees increase by more than inflation nearly every year. Add activities, especially tuition in 1 or 2 instruments and it's eye watering expensive. Senior school more expensive than prep and lots of trips to fund. Maybe not in London but some schools in the south east, many well known, are not full, the fees are proving too high for two professional incomes. Senior schools for DS I'm looking at will be £8k a term from year 9, that's for day pupils. There are some cheaper schools but they don't suit him and/or he probably wouldn't get in. He has SEN mild, but would not be well served by the state schools as is too mild, but is impacting his progress which would prob be average but not the potential that CAT scores show.

bengalcat Mon 25-Sep-17 06:44:01


cluelessnewmum Mon 25-Sep-17 08:48:06

Thanks for your responses. Our mortgage is reasonably hefty but we do have investments that more than cover it even without dh salary but I haven't factored these in to calculation as you never know they might do in the future.

Other outgoings are pretty small, own car outright, it's alright, doesn't need upgrading for a long time. Holidays etc already expecting to be downgraded, though neither of us would be happy to not have one at all and we are not camping etc types!

Jojo I have definitely considered that, just waiting until secondary... Our local primary is pretty underwhelming, I'm sure it's OK but if they went there we'd then be in the arms race with tutors and the rest of it to get them to the level where they'd get into a private secondary and I don't suppose they'll get into the best ones unless they're really bright. It would be much easier if we were in the catchment of an outstanding primary but were not.

Quirkygoose , the costs I have based it on are with all the extras I can think of,but I need to factor in the fee increase, as well as the sibling discount, two things I'd not thought about.

CatsAreFromOuterSpace Mon 25-Sep-17 09:40:39

about £26k plus lots of extras for one child (specialist school - worth every penny)

About 10% of net

MollyHuaCha Mon 25-Sep-17 09:57:05

We spend half of our take home money on school fees. Wish it was less!

sandybayley Mon 25-Sep-17 19:32:59

We spend about 25% but have no mortgage or other debts. As others have said the % is a bit of a red herring - other commitments are the main factor.

We prioritised paying off the mortgage as quickly as we could and not buying a nicer house. House is perfectly nice anyway. We also only sent DD at 11. Both DS1 and DS2 went at 7 (prep). Having not to pay for them all from reception has really helped.

It has involved sacrifices but not dramatic ones. So the car is not flash and the holidays France rather than exotic but I'm happy with the choices we've made.

hiyasminitsme Tue 26-Sep-17 13:30:57

Do you know for sure there is a sibling discount? School tend to only offer them if undersubscribed, none of the private schools I know of do.

ChocolateWombat Tue 26-Sep-17 19:45:09

We don't have a particularly high income and spend 25% on fees. The thing that makes this affordable is we don't have a mortgage anymore. It is this, rather than the % on fees which makes the difference. Lots of people round here would have a mortgage of 50% of our income and so private school would be unthinkable.

Op I would recommend not only saving up for school fees immediately (even if only for secondary) but also paying down as much mortgage as possible. The lower your debts the more choices you have when it comes to things like deciding on schools.

ChocolateWombat Tue 26-Sep-17 19:46:58

In my experience many school do offer a sibling discount...but it's often only 5% for a third child and nothing for the second. It's a help, but probably not going to swing it one way or the other.

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