School fees rising? Here’s how to cope
The new ruling by the KHDA, that schools with an 'Outstanding' rating can only raise their fees by a maximum 6% for the 2013/14 year, while those rated ‘Good’ are allowed a 4.5% increment, and the ‘Acceptable’ schools are allowed 3% hikes, has actually made our future financial forecasts easier to digest.
At least we now know where we stand – even if it is more expensive. Here are a few things you can do to ease the discomfort of the education budget.
Register with schools as soon as possible
This seems extreme to the new parent, but getting your child on a school waiting list as a newborn, could well save you a heap of stress and cash later on. The best schools in the UAE aren’t actually the most expensive ones. But because they are good, they have the longest waiting lists. Basically, getting your child registered as soon as you can could literally save you a fortune later on.
Hold back on nursery
The trend here is to put your children into nursery as soon as they can walk. But it’s an unnecessary expense – especially if you are a mother who can work part time and manage with live-in help, or afford not to work at all while your babies are young. Nursery fees, term on term, are as expensive – if not more so than primary school fees – and get this, most parenting experts agree that while nursery does no harm, it certainly doesn’t put your child streets ahead of his or her peers who haven’t attended. Just a single term at nursery before big school, is enough to ease the majority of children into the routine. Look at it this way; you’ll be paying for their education until they’re at least 21. Why start before you have to?
Negotiate fee payments
Finding three large payments every year is tough. We don’t all have AED40,000+ hanging around in our bank accounts in September – especially if the summer has been costly. So, talk to your child’s school and ask them if they will be prepared to negotiate monthly school fee payments. If you can cut down big chunks into manageable bites and work them into your monthly budget, they don’t seem so scary anymore.
Think long term
If you haven’t yet started a family, but know it’s on the cards, start up an education fund now. Whether it’s a high interest account that you diligently tuck AED1,000 into every month, or a slow-burn fund that will mature and pay out once the huge college fees hit, at least it’s something to fall back on. The fact is that prices rise here with frightening speed here. Be prepared for that.
We love the fact that you can now compare all school fee prices on souqalmal.com. It makes life so much easier when you’re considering the education packages. Don’t just look at fees though, consider location too. If an attractive school with lower fees catches your eye, but is in a difficult location, you’ll end up spending either a fortune on school transport (an additional average of Dhs1,000 per month, per child) or precious drive time and money on petrol and Salik getting to and from the school twice a day. Are you struggling to pay the school fees? Perhaps you’ve hit on more solutions. If so, tell us about them.