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Thinking of independent-bursaries and scholarships?

(16 Posts)
yellowvan Thu 08-Sep-11 08:21:57

Am considering local selective independent school but it would be very (very) tight. Has anyone had experience of scholarships and bursaries/? What is the bursary application procedure like? I know it's means tested, but the form asks for things like value of second home (definitely does not apply here!)What % reduction is possible or likely? is it a one-off or can you reapply year on year? What sort of financial circumstances are typical of successful applicants? I'm waiting for info from school, and i've looked at 'turn2us' for charitable help, but hope you don't mind me asking here, as i haven't really got a clue how these things work. Thanks.

LIZS Thu 08-Sep-11 17:05:55

Bursary criteria will vary widely from one school to another, one area to another. Some will cut off at less than 40k income, others much higher with a sliding scale down to 100% for low incomes, and may well take into account your other assets. Scholarships are on merit and could (but again will vary) be worth up to 50% but more often less, 10-25% . For an academic one some will require the child to sit an extra set of exams others just give it to those scoring at the top of the entrance tests. Some offer awards based on beign exceptional at Sports, Music, Drama etc , others don't. Some schools will reassess bursary criteria but you can't rely on getting one next time if you don't qualify now.

You really need to have a coinversation with the Bursar of your potential school to see what rules they apply.

angrywoman Thu 08-Sep-11 17:16:01

I tried to get my daughter into the local girls school. They said they couldn't guarantee anything as they have finite funding. I was on very low income and would still have been paying £1000 a term (rather than 5k). This was all quite upsetting as she went to the entrance exam and visit day. I expected her to be offered more as they state that bursaries can be up to 100%. That is in theory. I wish they had been able to give me a more accurate prediction from the outset.
Another friend tried to get her daughter into another local school and as she is earning she would have ended up paying. The amount would have left them with no holidays, no luxuries of any sort whatsoever.
I think the system/s should be much clearer.

happygardening Thu 08-Sep-11 17:54:25

Bursaries are there for parents who are prepared to sacrifice everything to send their child to the particular school not those who want to carry on driving the Range Rover, having exotic holiday in Antigua and still send their children to private school. You have voluntarily decided that you want your child to be educated at a particular school rather than having a pension scheme, new car, second home (in some cases first home) etc.
Having said this I do agree that many school websites are not clear about the level of bursary they are prepared to offer and others make grand claims that they are unable to meet.
The best things to do is before you or you child even look at a particular school is work out what you can realistically afford and ring up and speak to the bursar. If you want an 80% reduction tell him. If he has a small heart attack and is left at a loss for words its a no goer. Ask if the school has ever given bursaries of that size before. Be friendly but polite say you are not asking him to commit himself in writing you just need to know if they will even consider a bursary of that size.

onadifferentplanettoday Thu 08-Sep-11 18:07:15

I am a lone parent,at the moment I am on ESA due to ill health and I live in a HA property,prior to this I worked full time and was able to have my two ds' at independent schools. When my circumstances changed and we moved to another area my older ds got a 100% bursary to a top Independent. I was told before he did the exams that a bursary of this size was unlikely but after the exams he was offered it. My younger ds goes to a smaller less academic school and was offered 75% which is the highest amount they offer.Both schools had very long application forms and wanted a large amount of financial information and a representative of ds2' school also came to visit us at home. I was a bit concerned that ds1 would be known as a bursary child at his school but a little investigating on line showed me that in fact of the 1000 children at his school just under 200 receive some financial help.

meditrina Thu 08-Sep-11 18:10:17

A scholarship is a fixed award, non-means tested, for specified abilities (eg academic, art, sport, music). It's value is clearly stated - but many are purely nominal, those that have monetary value are often around the 10% mark - though there are still some higher. It may be possible to hold simultaneous awards in different fields.

Scholarships are tending to get smaller - so there can be more money in the bursary pot.

Bursaries are means tested - and retested annually. You do not have to be a scholar to receive one, but obviously at will help as they are awarded to pupils they really want to have in the school and will benefit from their particular style of education.

Each school sets its own T&Cs for awards (income level, disregards, other thresholds and assets). You can only find this out from the individual school. How much they can offer depends on the overall value of their fund (and investment income is doing badly at the moment) and the number of existing calls on the pot.

happygardening Thu 08-Sep-11 18:51:31

In these financially strapped times many schools are now only making them available to scholars to top up the nominal award. Nearly all state on their websites if this is the case. As I've said before on previous posting on this subject the bigger more famous ones with lots of assets and rich parents are usually more generous.

Hulababy Thu 08-Sep-11 18:56:20

I would not go into the independent sector unless you could cover the fees yourselves. If you can't manage alone without a bursery or scholarship I would look elsewhere tbh. Burseries and scholarships can be removed, you wouldn't want that half way through the system and then have to remove your child really.

BoringSchoolChoiceNickname Thu 08-Sep-11 19:04:21

Out of idle curiosity I was looking at the bursaries for City of London Girls and if I've understood it correctly the top end of their bursary system (25% discount) covers a family income of 50 grand after tax, mortgage/rent and c. 5 grand allowance per additional child. If you've got a big mortgage that could mean some very wealthy people getting financial support.
100% fees are available if the family net income is 20 thousand on the same basis.

But COLG is a rather special case so I guess the moral is, read the small print, and if you're not sure ask the bursar flat out whether it's even worth applying.

eatyourveg Thu 08-Sep-11 19:45:30

ds1 has a bursary and 2 scholarships (one music and one academic) We asked the bursar when ds1 was in Y5 what sort of person qualified for a bursary. He sent us the forms and we had to fill in all the financial details down to TV licence and any pets in the house. (we are a one car household living in a semi with no foreign holidays nor sky tv, xbox or wii) We then got a letter to say that on the face of it we might qualify but it was the Head's decision based on the quality and quantity of requests made that year.

As it was we got one. He did well in the entrance exam and we made a good case why we wanted him there and crucially what we thought he could bring to the school. The bursary lasts as long as he is there.

At the end of Y8 the head of music said he would recommend him for the music scholarship and last summer he got enough As in his gcse to qualify for a 6th form scholarship too.

happygardening Thu 08-Sep-11 19:49:45

I've never heard of bursaries being removed and scholarship are usually only removed if the child fails to perform. Most schools are aware that if you don't have £31 000 a year to spend on school fees when you start, barring inheriting it or winning it, your unlikely to find it two years later.

meditrina Thu 08-Sep-11 19:54:40

Bursaries are typically adjusted every year - it's not "all or nothing". But awards will be reduced if your circumstances improve.

Scholarships a for a set period - normally subject to good behaviour and effort, occasionally performance.

yellowvan Thu 08-Sep-11 19:59:31

Thanks so much for all your replies. I kind of fear what angrywoman said, and in my heart-of-hearts agree with Hula too, and also with Happy about the necessity of sacrifice. eatyour: may I ask what 'making a good case for why we wanted him there' entailed in your case? DS is currently y5, assessed at nc level 4a at end of y4 in maths, english, science. I consider him bright(of course I would,wink) but wonder if it's enough for scholarship. He's also pretty self motivated, and hard working, but not natuarally gregarious and outgoing,ie I'm struggling to identify his usp. Adults tend to like him more than children do, as he's a bit of a 'lonely only'. Don't know if this will help or hinder. Thanks again for all advice, I know I really need to speak to school, but any more thoughts?

crazycarol Thu 08-Sep-11 22:24:43

DD has had a bursary for the last 3 years. The first year she got 50% but that has gone down as my earnings have gone up (I have increased my hours). At her school about 10% have bursaries and there are only 1 or 2 scholarships per year and they are only worth peanuts. We have to reapply every year for the bursary with lots of financial detail, but if that is the sort of education you want and you can't afford it any other way, then you do it. No-one at the school knows who is on a bursary (except the bursar's staff!) so they are not treated any different.
However each school is very different in how much is available and what the thresholds are. At the time we applied for a number of schools, and at another school we would have qualified for a bursary for the first year but no funds were left. Also had we got the funding for that year, for later years we would have got nothing as my increase in earnings has taken us above the top limit, but at dd's school we still get about 15%. Fortunately for us her current school was in fact her first choice!
Some schools publish the details on their website but most (if not all) will give you the details if you ask. I have seen schools give 100& at around £15K income or less, others higher. Then it is a sliding scale, some go to 0% at around £30K others will still offer a bursary up to £75K. At DD's school their top limit is £55K.
Hope this helps

eatyourveg Sat 10-Sep-11 12:19:03

yellowvan in our case ds1 has 2 db with autism and has historically been bottom of the pile. Having him in an environment with 120 peers would just render him anonymous and we figured he deserved to be somewhere a lot smaller where all the students are known as opposed to the bigger schools where it tends to be those who have made a name for themselves either by being top of the class, bottom of the class, school trouble makers or sportsmen. I think we used the phrase not defined as brother of x and y but someone in his own right. I still have a copy somewhere which if I can find, will pm through. I also quoted some of the speech the head had given in an open day a couple of years beforehand about the type of student they wanted to produce.

happygardening Sun 11-Sep-11 01:36:48

I think quoting from the heads speech is inspired.
I suspect that banging on about bullying/poor results at your local state school is unlikely to increase you chances of getting a bursary rather talk your child up, emphasise his positive points. Schools like positve news, things they can put on thier websites that make them look good even if they have not directly caused the success.

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