Every parent researching private schools has the same objective; to find the school that best suits their child that will help them reach their full potential. Hand in hand with this however is the fear that the cost of fees may put certain schools out of their reach.
To a parent just starting the research process, it can be difficult to establish how the fee system works and what options are available to help with affordability. We’ve gone directly to the source and discovered that sometimes things aren’t what they first seem.
It’s more than likely that your first visit to a school’s website involves going straight to their fees section to see if it fits within your budget. What’s important to consider when establishing affordability is what’s included in the overall fee and what’s not.
Some schools present a lump sum fee that covers all of the student’s needs up front. Principal of Shelford Girls’ Grammar, Polly Flanagan, explains, “We currently offer fees that are all-inclusive covering tuition fees and consolidated fees that cover items like the use of technology, camps and musical instruments used in classroom music sessions. There are no other charges for parents at Shelford unless their daughter opts to join an overseas trip.”
Some schools charge additional fees where the main upfront fee covers tuition while other composite costs (e.g. for camps) are charged throughout the year. You are generally made aware of these additional fees at the start of the year.
Discounts and structured payment plans.
Most private schools offer discounts. The most common discounts are for early or full payments, having multiple siblings at the same school or for children of alumni.
Some parents find paying a term’s tuition fee in one lump sum difficult to manage. If this is the case for you, a payment plan may be an option. Check with the school to see if they offer structured payment plans or consider arranging a payment plan through a third-party. These organisations make payments to the school on your behalf and you then repay them in manageable fortnightly or monthly installments.
Another option worth investigating is a scholarship. Scholarship applications are usually received by schools in February and March each year, for enrolment intake the following year. Many schools are very encouraging when it comes to applying for them and offer discounts based on a student’s academic, performing arts, music or sporting ability.
Calvary Christian College in South-East Queensland offers an academic scholarship and a bursary option for an all-rounder student with a good Christian character.
The school’s Marketing Officer, Regan Verwey, says applying for the scholarships is relatively easy and the school welcomes applications from new students.
“We would like to get more applications from prospective students but seem to get most from our own cohort,” she said.
Independent versus Catholic schools.
Although a wide range of fees are charged across the private school sector, it is generally known that most Catholic schools are more affordable than independent, non-denominational schools.
Private schools supported by a religion do accept a small number of students that are not of that faith, however, it will likely be expected for the student to embrace the culture of the school.