HOW TO PAY SCHOOL FEES Without breaking the bank

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Long gone are days when school fee was a three-digit affair and it isn’t surprising that some school’s fees are bordering on seven digits. Hence matters school fees need careful financial planning. Here are some tips on how to manage school fees on a tight budget and what to do if you can’t.

As individuals become more aware of financial planning, so have they learnt to distinguish between their needs and wants, and prioritise accordingly. Of course, school fees features heavily on the needs’ list and as such messes around with our monthly spending plans. And it is okay since education is a must-have survival tool in the 21st century and it doesn’t matter how rudimentary. So we have no choice but to start planning for our children’s education. Here are a few ideas to help you out:

Start Early: In the immortal words of Benjamin Franklin, failing to plan is planning to fail. It is no secret that if you want an easy time paying school fees, you need to start saving early, way before the child starts school. The earlier you start allocating a portion of your family budget to school fees, the easier it will be to manage your budget.

Work out the big numbers: Admittedly, one of the things parents consider when looking for a school for their children is school fees. It would be imperative for parents to inquire about the school’s fees progression. For example, how much was the school fees say two years ago and how does it compare to now. Also, for many schools, the fees rise as the child moves to the next class. Having this in mind will help you make a decision on whether it is sustainable in the long run.

Work out the extras: The devil, they say, is in the details. Rings true in this case. It is wise to interrogate what you have to spend aside from the tuition fees such as cost of school uniform, trips, lunches, snacks, insurance and transport, among others. These vary from school to school.

Income: After all is said and done, your income will determine whether you will be able to afford the school or not. Have a long and careful consideration on the extent of dent to your pocket; don’t risk going into debt or being forced to take out your child just as they are beginning to settle. If you can’t keep up with private schools, there are very good public schools where you can enroll your child. Take time to shop around for a good affordable school.

Education funding products: There are a number of financial products that are tailor-made to ease school fees payment. Some are long-term such as insurance bonds or short-term such Fee Plan where they pay your child’s school fees or your own, if you are a student, upfront and you repay them in little amounts.

If the situation is so dire and you can’t afford the school fees, you can always talk to the school management and since most are understanding, they may provide alternative ways for you to pay.

These may include, a payment plan, providing access to scholarship, waiving fees or payment in lie of providing services or supplying provisions such as milk, bread or firewood to the school to offset the fees owed.

Published in January 2015

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