Financial considerations for prospective private-school parents

When weighing the pros and cons of sending your child to a private school, concerns about money are top of mind for many parents. A private-school education is a significant financial commitment, so families must be fully aware of what’s involved before making any decisions.

Here are four crucial questions to ask yourself to ensure paying for private school is financially feasible for your family.

Have we started saving?

How much have you already put aside for your child’s private-school education? If you don’t have a wealth of disposable income, saving is a must–and the earlier you begin, the better. Parents can also begin claiming the Canada Child Benefit–which is up to $6,997 (depending on the age of your child) for 2022-23–every year as soon as their child is born. This can amount to a healthy private-school savings fund by the time your child enrolls.

Have we planned for the long term?

Plan for the full extent of your child’s education, not just the first year, especially if you’re thinking of sending your child to private school from kindergarten through high school. No matter your income, consulting with a financial planner is invaluable in this regard. As well, investigate whether there are payment plans available at your private school of choice, so the cost of tuition can be spread out over time. “Parents aren’t always aware that independent schools offer different tuition payment options, including a monthly payment plan and the use of credit cards for tuition payments,” says Liisa Stephenson, communications associate director, at Toronto’s Branksome Hall.

Do we know what tuition includes?

One of the first things parents should find out is what a school’s tuition covers and what it doesn’t, as the latter could result in considerable additional expenses. Will you need to pay for a uniform? School supplies? Meals? “Our tuition fees cover the majority of student activities, and we aim to keep additional charges to a minimum,” says Tara Silver, principal of The Linden School in Toronto. For Linden School students, expenses such as books, field trips, yearbooks and some school events are included. At Branksome Hall, tuition also covers “core services related to students’ well-being, social-emotional learning, and entrepreneurship and innovation,” says Stephenson.

What are we prepared to sacrifice or change, financially?

It’s not unusual for parents to make financial sacrifices to pay for a private-school education, so it’s important to ask yourself what you and your family are willing to give up to redirect funds towards tuition. Are you prepared to curb your spending, forego vacations, or create a strict family budget and stick to it? “The highest returning investment a parent can make is to invest in their child and child’s future,” says Stephenson, so it’s important for parents to consider the extent of what that investment will entail.

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