School fees continue to rise at an alarming rate, so it’s no surprise that a lot of parents are struggling to meet the demands. It’s a tricky situation to be in, because you want your child to get the best possible education, stay close to their friends and be happy – but sometimes it seems like the only option is to pull them out of a private school and find a cheaper option.
Before you make any hasty decisions, it’s a good idea to find out from your child if they truly are happy at their current school. Sometimes, a new school can be just what they need to grow as an individual but often they’ve already formed strong friendships – so it’s a good idea to get their thoughts first.
If you’re convinced that your child is happiest where they are, then you could start by talking to the school about possible fee arrangements. The sooner you tell them that you’re going to struggle to meet the payments the better, as it gives you plenty of time to come to an agreement. Schools can offer bursaries and scholarships if the financial difficulty is just temporary, and there are other options you can take with your bank to prevent the situation arising again.
To always have access to your money for in times of need, you may want to consider an instant access savings account which allows you to withdraw money whenever you need it. This means you can put aside any spare income and use this for fees in the future. These accounts often offer higher interest rates on large savings plus there are no charges for moving your money around, which is important.
Another option is opting for a salary sacrifice scheme with your current employer (if they offer one.) This is where you come to a contractual arrangement, where you will accept a reduced gross pay and in return your employer will provide a specific non-cash benefit such as school fees, pension savings, or childcare.
The School Fees Advice page notes that the benefits available are being largely reduced: “From April 2017, the government has significantly limited the range of benefits offered through salary sacrifice schemes. Members of existing school fees salary sacrifice schemes can continue to benefit until 2021.” If you’d like to pay less tax and instead contribute to your child’s future, this is something you’ll want to get involved in as soon as possible.
Finally, if you’re fortunate enough to have generous grandparents, you may want to call them in for some financial support. Many parents rely on the capital that grandparents perhaps have to help fund some percentage of their children’s school fees. This is a great way that grandparents can invest into their grandchildren’s future, without hefty inheritance tax getting involved.
No matter which option you go with, remember that you’re an excellent parent, you are trying your best and as long as your children are happy that is all that matters!