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Income levels for bursaries/assisted places

(56 Posts)
DebbieFiderer Thu 16-Jul-15 16:23:36

I'm vaguely looking in to the possibility of DD going to an independent school for secondary as I think it would suit her (the right one would anyway!), but it wouldn't really be a possibility without significant assistance with fees. I've looked at a few local schools and they say they offer bursaries of up to 100%, obviously means tested; so far so good.

I had assumed that on our income level we would be good candidates for a bursary, however having looked at a couple of other schools a little further away (also more sought-after/prestigious, if that makes a difference), they are a little more specific about income levels for bursaries; one says that families with income above national average would be unlikely to get assistance, the other specifies £26,000 as a cut off for 100% bursary, so now I am wondering if that would be similar at other schools, in which case there is little chance we would get enough to make it a possibility sad

Does anyone know if this would be the case, or do schools vary quite significantly on this? We are in Surrey if that makes a difference.

Waitingandhoping2015 Thu 16-Jul-15 17:26:07

I don't know about income levels but be aware that many schools also take into account your capital situation, especially the equity in your house, so watch out for this potentially ruling you out also.

Knowledgablebursaryadvise Thu 16-Jul-15 17:28:32

IME level of earnings required to get a bursary very much varies from school to school. Without going into specifics we are both 40% tax payers I just tip over DH earns significantly more but we qualify at DC's for a substantial bursary (full boarding), at another school we wouldn't even get a look in. I"ll just add we are asset poor, we pay the fees from our salary
Secondly we also discovered when we first tried to find a school that gives generous bursaries that many make very grand claims on their websites especially when it comes to large bursaries but in reality only a few of the very wealthy often HG names actually regularly offer large/100% bursaries any more than once in a blue moon. You need to speak to the bursar in a large school or the head in a small one.
What about a scholarship although many now don't carry large financial rewards on their own you are often more likely to get a larger bursary if your DC is in receipt of a scholarship especially an academic one.

Knowledgablebursaryadvise Thu 16-Jul-15 17:29:43

Big not HG!!

EssexMummy123 Thu 16-Jul-15 17:30:15

The bursar of each specific school would be the best person to ask.
Have you thought how much you could afford? e.g if you got x% bursary and paid the rest yourself.

DebbieFiderer Thu 16-Jul-15 17:43:46

Capital situation not an issue - we rent, have zero savings, one 10 year old car etc etc.

It's a few years off so difficult to work out how much we could afford as I am just starting a new career so not sure how far I will have progressed in that time. In reality though (especially since we have a younger child to factor in too, although we may feel a different school would benefit her), we couldn't afford more than about 20-30% of the fees, especially once you factor in uniform, buses, trips, lunches etc.

I will definitely look at scholarships as well, but they seem to be fairly minimal, and one school at least says that effectively any bursary awarded would be reduced by the amount of the scholarship.

How early is too early to contact bursars? DD is just going in to Y3.

Kuppenbender Thu 16-Jul-15 20:33:26

Whitgift school give a fairly detailed chart of the bursaries they offer.
That might give you some idea.

Gruach Thu 16-Jul-15 22:25:53

I obviously cannot speak for all schools but a major prep school is unlikely to offer a significant bursary before yr 6 or 7. They need to be able to establish that your child is, in some positive way, likely to bring credit to the school. (Credit such as getting into the top senior schools they feed to.)

Are you considering boarding? Boarding schools are quite keen to attract and keep pupils who'll really make something of the experience.

camptownraces Thu 16-Jul-15 22:40:07

There is a limited pot for bursaries in most schools.

So parents having a low income doesn't mean that a bursary will necessarily be awarded - the pupil will have to be seen as in some way desirable to the school.

Desirability could be determined by achieving a particular mark/place in entrance exam, for instance. Another question to ask bursars in your trawl round schools.

mandy214 Thu 16-Jul-15 22:45:09

I looked very briefly at some of our local private secondary schools. It was quite low - it was the same figure as you quote £26,000 as a limit for a 100% bursary then a sliding scale I think upto about £43,000 I think. A combined income over that means no assistance at all.

Lurkedforever1 Thu 16-Jul-15 23:51:40

That sounds about right. Dds school and the others I looked at locally did consider expenditure and dependents and things too though, as well as what you're income is. Because £30k and 3 other children in private rental wouldn't leave £4k over in your example for school fees, but in different circumstances it might. I also discovered that it's on a sliding scale too in line with disposable income not full bursary or nothing. And that I got an an accurate prediction of what I'd be expected to pay if just my income increased and nothing else changed. Scholarships are usually only a token reduction, some schools offer them with a bursary, others use them as a temptation to high achieving fee paying pupils and award bursaries separate. But really you need to speak to the bursars at each school, they don't all operate the same.
Generally though the bigger name schools have more money for bursaries, so more chance of a generous one. And bear in mind that certainly in my experience and what I've heard from different areas, there's way more children that qualify for bursaries than money in the pot, so it's done on achievement, so qualifying for a bursary and passing the exam doesn't guarantee one.

iamnotaponceyloudperson Fri 17-Jul-15 12:59:56

Whilst keeping an eye on bursaries etc, make sure you fully research and are content with your state school options too.

During years 5 & 6 competition really hots up for the big schools and the pressure on the children can be immense if they feel this is their only acceptable option. Bursaries and scholarships really do require a significantly higher than average performance in a field of children who are all significantly higher than average. It must be tremendously hard for children who work so hard for the exams to have to turn down a place due to a lack of sufficient bursary.

Superexcited Fri 17-Jul-15 16:39:17

Although 26k is the cut off point for a 100% bursary at most of the schools local to me the upper earnings limit for partial bursaries is between 43k and 56k depending in the school. There is a sliding scale of fees between £26k and the upper earnings limit. A family with a combined household income of £30k would not be expected to pay a huge level of fees and would probably qualify for a bursary in the region of 85-90%, whereas a family with a combined income close to the upper earnings limit would be expected to pay close to the full fee.

If you ring the schools you are interested in and speak to the bursary they will be able to give you a much better idea of the level of bursary you might get. Don't forget that competition for bursaries is tough and applications often exceed the number of bursaries available so your child wil need to score very well on the entrance exam to be in with a good chance of getting a bursary place.

Emochild Fri 17-Jul-15 23:05:42

Dd1 applied for private school 2 years ago for year 7 entry
She won a maths scholarship which gave a 5% reduction in fees
Income related bursary of 65%

At the time I was a single parent, 2 children and earning 25,800

School bus was £1000pa

I turned down her place

When I enquired initially I was told she was eligible for 100% but apparently there were 'more children than anticipated that qualified for a bursary had passed the entrance exam'

I wouldn't have gone through the application process with her as there was no way I could have afforded the £6k in fees and school transport it was going to cost

Lurkedforever1 Sat 18-Jul-15 00:40:19

emo in fairness though that's the risk of applying, in every school I've heard of there are more eligible candidates than bursaries so they weren't deceiving you, they said yes you're entitled to a 100% bursary, but unfortunately due to the money left in the pot we can only offer you 65%.

Superexcited Sat 18-Jul-15 08:50:08

I don't think they spread the bursary funds in the way that emo's choice of school did at all schools though.
We applied for two schools and made bursary applications to both. Prior to the exams we filled in a bursary application form. One of the schools had a very clear bursary policy laid out on its website and sent us very detailed information in the post stating that if we qualified for a place after the entrance exam our contribution to fees would be x amount based on the income details provided. They made it clear that we would either be offered a bursary place at the indicated amount, placed on the bursary waiting list, receive an offer of a full fee paying place or receive no offer at all. There was no mention of receiving an offer of a place with a lower bursary contribution.

The other school sent the bursar out to see us a few weeks before the exam and said that based on our income we would be entitled to x amount if our son was successful in the exam. They did make it very clear that they didn't have enough funds for all bursary applicants so a very strong performance was required in the exam to secure a bursary. Both schools hold bursary waiting lists so that if a bursary place is turned down somebody on the waiting list will be offered a bursary. Neither school have a policy of offering smaller bursaries than they calculate you can afford based on your income (because obviously most people would not be able to afford to take the place).
We received offers from both schools of the amounts previously indicated. We turned one place down and we're hopeful that the funds would be allocated to somebody on the bursary waiting list.

If the school that emo applied to has a policy of offering smaller bursaries than required so that they can give something to a greater number of people then they should make that very clear to applicants prior to the exam.

DebbieFiderer Sat 18-Jul-15 08:53:45

Thanks all, some interesting food for thought.

Kuppenbender Sat 18-Jul-15 18:49:19

I suspect some schools might offer lower bursaries in order to test the water. They offer a substantial but insufficient bursary to see whether parents or relatives/estranged parents etc... are more willing to contribute than the school was led to believe in the bursary application.

If the school is massively over-subscribed, it might make some sense for them to do this.

Lurkedforever1 Sun 19-Jul-15 14:44:04

That's an interesting theory kuppen, but difficult to prove because while if they really want the child they'll follow with a higher offer if the first is declined, it doesn't follow if they don't make a second offer it definitely wasn't just a test. Because with the sheer numbers applying if you keep offering that amount down the rankings after the first has declined chances are you'd find someone still well within the range of scoring high enough for a bursary that does have a relative etc that can pay the rest. Although to be honest I doubt it's a tactic the bigger or more popular schools need to employ, because they have enough fee paying pupils to pick from that increasing revenue from bursaries isn't necessary.

Kuppenbender Sun 19-Jul-15 16:56:46

Only the individual bursars and head teachers will know for certain how or why they make these offers, which on the face of it seem quite cruel. Better to offer the place and no bursary at all than a place with an insufficient bursary, putting it just tantalisingly out of reach.

Lurkedforever1 Sun 19-Jul-15 17:05:37

Yes I agree, but in that situation I think I'd prefer an explanation of why the bursary is insufficient than no offer, because at least then there's be some consolation in knowing you were good enough but at that moment others were more so. Just something along the lines of reiterating their policy eg as you know we do it on exam places due to the limited pot, and when we reached your placing, although high overall there was only enough left in for x%

needmorespace Sun 19-Jul-15 22:46:32

When my dtr was offered her school place, we qualified for a good bursary (can't remember exactly what percentage now but around 65%) based on our disposable income. But, even though she was offered a place, she didn't do as well in the entrance exams as other girls who were also eligible for a bursary. So we didn't get offered one.
We took a decision to still send her and she is now about to start sixth form. Again, on paper we qualify for a bursary. But were turned down again because my husband is now the sole employee of his own company and the school didn't 'count' the tax he pays on his dividends as an outgoing. So in reality, despite having less disposable income than when she originally started (husband was employed full time at that time) on paper we had more because they used a gross figure rather than a net figure for tax.
You really need to speak to the schools involved. As I say, on paper both times we qualified but the reality was very different.

babymind Tue 21-Jul-15 16:06:41

I have my son offered 90% discount from bursary that is good but I just wonder if he start school then later the school does not give the discount anymore ,anyone have experience with these as normally it depend on the fund available ,for my understand it will be very upsetting thing for the kids to leave school later just because not enough fund for bursary ?
I guess many parents may turn down the place for the bursary offer and just get in to a local state good secondary school because of lacking the information about bursary

Superexcited Tue 21-Jul-15 16:18:10

babymind the best thing to do is to contact the school bursar for clarification. The usual scenario is that once a child has been offered a bursary they will continue to receive a bursary each year that they attend the school but the bursary is subject to annual review so if you earn a lot more then the bursary will be reduced accordingly (which is the only way to fairly distribute the available funds). I have never heard of a bursary being withdrawn after a couple of years unless the family has suddenly started to earn significantly more but as bursary policies vary from school to school it is best to clarify it with the school bursar to out your mind at ease.
Both of the schools that offered us bursaries clearly explained that my son would be entitled to the bursary for the 5 or 7 (if he does 6th form) years that he attends the school but the amount could be adjusted up or down according to our earnings each year. If our earnings stay the same then the bursary stays the same.

Gruach Tue 21-Jul-15 16:25:55

It depends on the individual school babymind.

Prep or senior. Whether it's well established or not. Does it have a proven record of significant, successful bursary support? Or is it desperate to increase numbers on roll?

Is this a school that everyone has heard of - that people would sell their grandmothers to get into. Or is it (shorthand) a small local school with a nice uniform and a leaky roof?

In general they would expect your DS to try his best, not waste the opportunity offered. Assuming he passed an exam to access the bursary?

Unless the school is in financial difficulty it would be unusual for them to remove a bursary before the end of the child's time there if he is working as expected. It may we'll be reduced if your financial situation improves significantly.

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