What are the key points to remember when asking for a private school bursary? Want to send your child to private school, but don’t have the necessary funds? We give you some top private school bursary tips below.
Asking for a private school bursary
The cost of private schools continues to increase above the rate of inflation. According to the Independent Schools Council’s (ISC) latest annual census, average fees rose by 3.4% in 2017. Although the ISC said this was the lowest rate of increase since 2004, it is still well above the rate of inflation (currently around 2.5%).
Based on a survey of 1326 independent schools, the census shows that average private school fees are now £5,744 a term. Boarding school costs are the highest at £11,228 a term on average while private day schools average £4,618 a term.
In London, fees have increased at a far greater rate, in part because of an influx of wealthy parents into the city.
Private school bursaries v private school scholarships
So how are parents on modest incomes able to send their children to private school, should they wish to? The good news is that approximately 1 in 3 pupils receive financial help with their fees. This is mainly through bursaries and scholarships.
Scholarships are awarded for excellence in a particular area (academic, sports, music etc) and are usually worth between 10% and 25%.
However, bursaries are often worth much more. They are awarded to those who wouldn’t have the means to attend the school without financial help.
According to the ISC, nearly £1 billion was spent by private schools on providing financial aid of all types. These can range from a nominal amount (perhaps as little as £50 per annum) to a full 100% bursary. It may even be possible to get additional help with uniforms and school trips.
That’s not to say it’s getting easier to get help. It’s not. As Grace Moody-Stuart, Director of the Good Schools Guide Education Consultants told The Independent:
“It is encouraging to see schools are putting more money into bursary schemes than ever before, but we know that hard-working families increasingly consider private education to be beyond their reach.”
So how do you get a bursary to help pay private school fees if you don’t have an enormous income? Here we share seven simple tips:
Seven tips for private school bursaries
You probably need to start your research two years before your child is planning to go to the school in question. There’s nothing worse than your child getting a place at the school on merit but when you tell the school you need financial help there isn’t any available. Unfortunately, the various bodies which represent independent schools don’t compile and publish a comprehensive list of what’s available so you will have to do some digging. A good place to start is The Good Schools Guide. There should also be plenty of information on school websites.
Don’t let pride get in the way
Approximately one in three children at private school have some portion of their fees paid so you shouldn’t feel ‘poor’ by applying for a bursary. In fact, many schools are now actively canvassing for bursary applicants. For example, a group of 22 London schools have formed an alliance to help parents with more modest incomes get their children into private schools. To find out more visit London Fee Assistance Consortium here: https://feeassistancelondonschools.org.uk
Don’t expect much money from a scholarship
Scholarships may carry a lot of prestige but often not that much money (usually less than 25%). That said, it is definitely worth checking out the scholarships available if your child is talented at sport, arts or music. To do this visit the website for the Independent School of the British Isles (www.isbi.com). Then click on the school search followed by scholarships.
Be ready for means testing
Understandably, schools will want to know all about your financial circumstances before handing out a bursary. This doesn’t just mean your take-home pay. It also means the house you live in, the cars you drive and the holidays you take. The size of your mortgage may well be taken into consideration and whether there are any relatives who could help pay the fees too. Also, remember a bursary isn’t for life. If your circumstances change for whatever reason – for example, if you win the lottery – your bursary will be removed. Conversely, if disaster strikes and you lose your job you may be able to apply for a bursary.
Consider all avenues of funding
It isn’t just the schools themselves that offer funding. You may also qualify because of your job, birthplace or even religion. For example, there’s the Royal Caledonian Schools Trust, the Actors Charitable Trust and the Fashion and Textile Children’s Trust to name but a few. For a full list of trusts worth checking out go to the Educational Trusts Forum, www.educational-grants.org.
Have you considered asking relatives if they can help? For grandparents, it is probably a more valuable gift to help with their children’s education than leaving them cash when they die. Also if you don’t ask them it may affect your chances of getting a bursary.
Don’t give up!
Although you may not be able to get a bursary when your child is 11 or 12 don’t give up. There is less competition for sixth form bursaries and more options too. Check out the Government’s 16-19 Bursary Fund Guide here for more information: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/16-to-19-bursary-fund-guide-2018-to-2019-academic-year