Friday 30 June and the last day of the financial year means that all the fantastic sales are about to come to a shuddering halt, at least until the next ‘sale’ event! But what does that mean for parents considering a fee charging school for their child? Discounts are all about retail, they don’t apply to schools, or do they?
All private schools discount their fees even if it is simply via a sibling discount. One of the big differences between private and public is that you, the parent, are choosing to pay for something that is provided for free elsewhere. So whilst fee-charging schools – Independent or Catholic – have the benefit of being able to choose which students they decide to enrol, parents equally have a choice in deciding whether they take up that offer. And that might mean assessing whether the offer, including the dollars, is good enough. In our view, it pays to ask.
So how do private schools discount fees? Well, whether they say so publicly or not, every school at some time has gaps to fill across their year levels and just like any business, they need a certain number of students to make their business viable. Here are a few ways schools discount the published school fees:
- Sibling discounts – usually range from 10% to 25% depending on the number of children at the school.
- System discounts – some schools will offer a discount if you have children in the same system or region of schools (think single-sex Uniting Church schools in the same geographic area).
- Pre-payment discounts – usually around 2% – 3% if you pre-pay the annual fee upfront by a certain date.
- Staff discounts – some schools offer significant (25% – 50%) discounts to staff members, usually these are for teaching staff but some will also extend this to non-teaching staff.
- Scholarships – not technically a discount but some schools will advertise for scholarships outside of the ‘normal’ scholarship season. If you see a school advertising any time in Term 2 or 3 for a specific year level, especially for entry in the following year, you might be right in wondering if it is an enrolment hook. We will write a whole article on scholarships a bit later!
- Plugging the gaps – if you are looking for a place outside of the normal entry points – usually Prep/Reception, Year 7, Year 10 – and there doesn’t seem to be a problem getting in then it would be worth asking for a discount, especially if you are enrolling more than one child.
- Multiple children – if you are considering enrolment for one child, say at Year 7 level (or whatever their ‘middle/senior’ entry point is) but have another child in say Year 4 who will eventually go to the same school, it is worth asking whether there would be any discount for you if you bought both across at the same time. If you have 3 or 4 children then bargain hard!
- Girls – co-ed schools like gender balance and it is sometimes the case that girls are under represented, particularly if there are a number of single-sex girls schools competing with the one you are considering. It’s always useful to pay attention to the number of girls in the school (you can find a broad gender breakdown on their My School profile) and ask the question.
Finally, many schools will be willing to talk about a payment plan rather than lose your enrolment so don’t be afraid to have an honest discussion about fees and finances. They might be a business but schools also have hearts!