How to prepare financially for sending your child to private school

Funding a private education is an enormous financial commitment for parents to undertake. If you’re considering a private school for your child, you must plan properly before you invest.

If you don’t create a robust financial plan, there’s a chance you could line yourself up for financial hardship in the future. You might have to give up on long-term dreams and goals, and you could even risk having to remove your child from their independent school part way through their education.

So how should you prepare financially for the cost of your child’s private education? Let’s look at the six key steps.

1. Find out the cost of private school fees

How much does your chosen public school charge? The cost of independent schooling can vary dramatically, so you need to understand the financial commitment before you enrol your child.

To give a guideline, we’re currently recommending that parents expect to pay around £300,000 for each child’s education (from ages 4-18), but it’s essential to know the exact fees your child’s chosen school charges.

Most private schools list their fees on their website, but if you can’t find the information – or need some clarification – give the school a call to understand the costs. It’s also important to understand what those fees include – for example, does a fee for boarding include weekends?

While you’re doing your research, it’s wise to find out what the options are for reducing the school fees. Does your chosen private school offer scholarships for talented children? Or bursaries for families who would otherwise struggle to fund the costs? Gather a complete picture of the school fees upfront and avoid making assumptions so you can dodge unpleasant surprises later.

2. Calculate the hidden costs of private education

A coach talking to a group of school children

Unfortunately, the school fees listed on the school’s website aren’t the be-all and end-all of private school expenses. There’s a raft of hidden costs that you’ll need to finance throughout your child’s education, and you need to understand what’s involved.

First, take a look at the costs of essential supplies like school uniforms and sports equipment. The prices of these can add up considerably, so make sure you don’t gloss over any details. It’s also worth finding out the typical costs of school trips and other extracurricular activities – it would be a shame for your child to miss out on adventurous visits to far-flung places because your family couldn’t afford to pay for them, so request a typical budget from the school to include in your figures.

A valuable exercise is to take a holistic view of your child’s upbringing. You might save on fees by sending your child to a day school, but the cost of travel, meals, and laundry at home could easily outstrip the savings made by avoiding boarding fees.

In other words, have realistic expectations about expenditure and savings, and don’t take anything for granted when you’re thinking about the hidden costs. If you do, the price of private education could turn out to be higher than you realise.

3. Work out your annual salary and outgoings

This sounds like it should be fairly simple – many parents think a quick look at a payslip and their bank account should do the trick for understanding their income and expenditure. But there may be other factors they haven’t considered.

For example, does your employer offer an annual or performance-related bonus on top of the basic salary? Do you have more than one source of income? And it’s not pleasant, but think about how reliable your income is – how secure is your employment status?

When working out the amount that’s coming in, it’s not just your salary. Don’t forget to take into account any revenue from savings and investments to get a full view of your earnings.

It’s important to look at your outgoings, too. Remember to include annual payments, like car insurance, season tickets or holiday expenditure on top of the regular monthly cycle of utilities, food and fuel.

4. Assess your assets

Create a list of your long-term investments, like shares and bonds, and include any other assets that you hold.

If you’re a business owner or a shareholder, how much do your dividends amount to? And if you’re a director, is there more coming into the business than you draw as a salary?

Do you have ISAs, or a long-forgotten stash of Premium Bonds? How much equity do you have in the value of your house?

Understanding the assets you hold is an important part of preparing financially to send your child to a private school, so make a thorough account before you commit to school fees.

5. Be honest about your personal goals

It’s tempting to see your financial future as something distant. It’s easy to see your dreams as a foregone conclusion – the way you’ll know you’ve made it – without planning properly for the things you want to achieve.

When making a substantial investment like school fees, it’s worth being open about your personal financial goals and whether they might be affected by a significant outlay in another direction.

For example, if you’re saving for a second home, hoping to retire early, or have other financial goals in the pipeline, it’s time to understand the cost implications of these – and how school fees will affect your ability to achieve them.

6. Take a step back

Once you’ve taken time to understand the individual aspects of school fees, your finances, and the future, the most significant stage is to look at the bigger picture.

Bring all the elements together to get a view on the costs of private school against your current funds and future dreams.

Without viewing the situation in the round, it’s very difficult to make an informed decision about whether a private school is right for your child, your family, and your future.

Daunted by financial planning for school fees?

A teacher helping a student with a computer

Making a thorough assessment like this can feel overwhelming – especially for busy working parents. Carrying out a full analysis of your financial position takes a significant time investment and requires an in-depth understanding of all the factors that make up your personal finances. Plus, you have to know what you’re paying when it comes to the cost of private schooling, too.

As application deadlines for private schools start looming, do you feel as though it’s too much to take on? Don’t worry – help is at hand.

At Eden School Fees Planning, we’re experienced in helping parents take a holistic view of their finances against the cost of school fees. We can reduce the time burden of such an in-depth review, and make the process completely painless for you.

And those dreams that come into focus as we work through your goals? We can even show you how to plan effectively so you can afford school fees without having to sacrifice your own goals.

Give us a call to chat about preparing financially to send your child to private school. We’ll answer any questions you have, and explain how our school fees planning service works.