Fees and lack of funds(159 Posts)
I suppose it happens to a lot of people but we have sadly found ourselves in financial difficulties.
It's nothing dramatic - my husband is self employed and there is no work. I work part time and do extra work to make up to about 40 hours a week. I work in the NHS and whilst my salary isn't awful, it doesn't go very far. I have been working extra shifts through my annual leave recently to top up my salary.
We are nearing the end of our savings and I need to know what to do about the school fees.
The school offers very generous bursaries in the senior school but not in the prep. I moved us to monthly notice some time ago as a just-in-case measure.
We have equity in our house but I am acutely aware that that is all we have left now. I also put us on a 5yr deal 4 months ago that means no chance of a mortgage break for 2 years.
I know I need to make an appointment with the head &/or the bursar - I just need some advice please. I don't know how to get through the meeting without sobbing.
Has anyone ever been through this?
I would make an appointment. To discuss. They may have something in place for things like this. They may have some advice x
Maybe take as much information as you can to help explain. Perhaps ask if you could defer payments if they can't offer help? Could your husband offer to help them in some way? In the longer term could your husband re train?
I think deferring the fees is probably just moving the problem and the problem is we are out of cash.
So we can be out of cash with zero funds or out of cash owing £1k a month.
He could re-train but if I'm honest it would be better for me to do it. I am more flexible and can (& have) turned my hand to lots of things. His industry is IT but niche.
Thanks for the replies. It helps.
Just talk to them as soon as you can.
And call the council to find out what state school options are available in your area.
Many years ago DH used to be self employed and we were paying prep school fees. One day just before Xmas a long standing client didn’t pay his very large bill, and it was the final straw we were both tired of the feast or famine wages. Our schools fee bill was substantial the strain of worrying if the money would come in to pay the bill was getting to both of us. He’d always believed he couldn’t find the right job and that being self employed was better. We spent the Xmas holiday researching possible jobs, he sent his CV round and within three months he had a pretty decent job. 12 years later he is still employed in the same company. The DC’s are at uni now he talks wistfully of working for himself again, maybe but I know couldn’t have contemplated it whilst we were paying school fees, Can your DH not get a job? I know it’s not the same as being self employed but needs must etc.
I just think if you have no savings or a reasonable prospect of a good income in the short term, you may have to come to terms with the fact you cannot actually afford Private education for your DC.
In the financial crash, DH’s income crashed to 5% of what it had been the previous year. Yes, I typed that correctly - he lost 95% of his income. We negotiated a re structuring of the fees but in the end we paid up from savings. He is self employed and still is. There wasn’t going to be any change in that because he hadn’t worked for anyone since he was 25 so had been his own boss for 30 years and had over 100 staff.
So either sell your house (and most schools expect you to do this to release equity or take out a further mortgage) or bite the bullet and pull your children out of the school. They’ll cope and you’ll sleep.
I would just find the best option for state schools and get them moved , they will adapt and private just gets more expensive as they get older.
It sounds like you’ll need to consider state school- it’s really not worth getting into serious financial difficulty over.
You have to talk to the school.
If bursaries are not normally given to prep pupils, you may have to brace yourself to this ending up as a discussion about exit terms. Because if the bursary pot for this year is already allocated, then they have no money either.
I think you're likely to need to look at state school options, move your DC at the least awkward time, pay off current school fees on an arrears plan if necessary. And then try to improve income stream - timeliness as well as amount - and build up some savings if you can.
And reapply for seniors if things look better by then.
Agree, as the situation has no definite prospect of improving you are best approaching this as negotiating an end now and start a positive search for state alternatives. Your dc are not at such a critical point in education where a move would be detrimental to their longer term. At y10/11/13 a bursar may be more sympathetic to a sudden change in circumstances, although if there were earlier warning signs you might reasonably have been expected to have made a move or found alternative funding sooner.
Some fee-paying schools are happy to discreetly reduce fees when approached. It might depend on whether your children are highly valued within the school (i.e. academic, sporty, good examples to others) and whether the school is full.
I know who has two children at prep school. Parents decided they could no longer afford the fees, so gave notice to withdraw. The school then offered the younger child to attend free provided the couple paid for the older child.
Do go and ask.
It's not worth taking money out of the house for. I'd be also asking lea which local schools have space and having a nose around them. It's a huge change but children do change schools and it can be done. It sounds like even with a discount you will struggle financially with the school
You really have to consider state schools. Even if it means driving some distance daily the saving will be worth it. Children adapt quickly and you can always change back if finances improve enough. Give notice to the school now to buy you some thinking time
Send your kids to a non paying school and prioritise keeping a roof over your head - obvious, surely.
Firstly, do speak to the school and be honest. If you can't sort this out short term, then no child in the longer run is going to appreciate a great school, education and support and then come home to parents who are stressed, lack of heating and food. If your child is bright or has particular interests and is good at them, ie sport, music, drama, there's always the possibility of a scholarship/bursary if things haven't improved financially for you. If they're bright and work hard, there's no reason why they can't leave secondary with a good number of 8s and possible 9s.
Definitely speak to the school. Bursaries might only be for Seniors but short term hardship help is often available for situations like this. In the schools I know, help is available on a termly reviewable basis for up to 2 years.
Speak to them sooner rather than later and before you run down the savings anymore or start taking equity out if the house.
Even with short term help, which might get you to a sensible point for leaving, unless there is a brighter financial future for you, you will need to look for a state school. Lots of people have to do this. It isn't a failure or a disaster. Believe your kids can do well in another school. Get looking sooner rather than later and finding out where places might be available.
The sooner you speak to the school and find out about alternatives, the sooner you take some control back over all this and can start to at least manage the timing of a possible exit. By not getting on the case sooner you may find you need to edit with short notice or be left with a very poor choice of alternatives.
Best of luck - it's a tricky situation to be in....but not a disaster.
Thank you all. You have no idea how grateful I am for the replies. I feel completely alone. I cannot discuss this with anyone as I simply don’t have the words.
We went to see the head this evening. They were very kind, as expected. We learned 2 things.
1. The bursar thought I meant we were going on to monthly fees not notice.
2. There is no such thing as monthly notice.
So we are liable for fees up until the Easter holidays as the notice period is the end of the next full term.
The head is going to speak with the bursar and see if we can pull DC out at Feb 1/2 term.
I have 1 dc, 6yrs old. They have been at the school since nursery aged 2. I know children are adaptable and resilient and all the thugs but I feel, tonight, utterly broken and a failure. It is all she has ever known. I know I am reflecting on my own childhood and education when I say that a similar thing happened to me aged 8 & I never went to a decent school again.
I have cried for 3+ days, pausing for work and there I have taken myself off into the loo when it’s got too much.
I will ring the LEA tomorrow and get the ball rolling. I will not bury my head in the sand.
I’m so sorry this is happening to you. The best advise I can give you is be positive about the state school you get allocated, believe it’s going to work, and most importantly let your DC know that you believe it’s going to be absolutely fine. Try not to let her see your doubts. I know from personal experience as we became increasingly disillusioned with the prep DS was at, he quickly caught on and became equally more disillusioned.
At 6 your dc will be fine moving! Loads of people move schools for all sorts of reasons. Unless you tell him/ her that he's moving from private to state I doubt he'd even realise.
I don’t have any practical advice but I do understand how horribly hard this feels right now. I teach in a secondary independent school and we often have children coming at yr 7 who spent some time at the prep school then went elsewhere. This may be possible for you in a few years time.
If you present this as positively as possible to your daughter, she will be fine.
In some ways although an expense you can do without, having to pay until February means that
1. Your financial situation might change
2. You have time to look at schools and get on some waiting lists so you don't have to jump at the first school with a place but at the same time if a lovely school has a place next week you can move anyway.
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