With the costs of modern-day schooling, it is nearly impossible to save up for your children’s educational needs, let alone their extra-curricular activities. As a result, parents are desperately looking for ways to curb future financial demands or to better prepare themselves for the unforeseen expenses of their children’s educations.

Primary and secondary education

The average schooling lifecycle of a child, excluding tertiary education, is around 17 years. This timeframe entails the following phases of schooling:

  • Pre-primary schooling – Pre-Grade R (day care or crèche) and Grade R/0 (reception year)
  • Primary schooling – Grade 1 to Grade 10
  • Secondary schooling – Grade 10 and 12

The difference in tuition fees between public or private schooling, can be astronomical. Parents are often forced to shop around to strike the balance between affordability and personal preference, though limited access to funds make it very difficult.

Tertiary education

Post-secondary education is the academic phase where your children will prepare themselves for their future careers. This level of education is generally offered through formal trade schools, universities, colleges, or similar technical institutions. Upon completion, students will receive certificates, professional diplomas, or academic degrees, such as undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

While online learning platforms have simplified this process, it is still a time-consuming and costly exercise, during which you would need to sustain them, or they would need to study part-time while working for a living.

The shocking escalation in university and college enrolment fees makes saving up for tertiary education even more daunting than primary or secondary education.

The estimated costs of schooling

Currently, the annual fees for primary and secondary education can range between R35 000 to R300 000, while tertiary education can range between R30 000 to R250 000. This does not include school uniforms, technological requirements, curriculum textbooks, stationery, transport and school outings, such as daytrips or camp excursions.

Education inflation has been galloping at about 10% per annum over the last couple of years, which surpasses most annual salary increases. With inflation, a child’s primary and secondary education lifecycle could cost anything between R1.5m to R4m from Grade R through 12. The estimated costs for their tertiary education, on the other hand, could fluctuate tremendously and will increase with each passing year.

This paints a grim picture for parents with more than one child, or expatriate parents who want their children to attend an international schooling institution. In the current financial climate, the average household will probably see both parents working to make ends meet, while pitting school expenses against a complex budget. School planning can become a complicated matter for parents, especially when planning for their own retirement is already difficult.

Planning for the unforeseen

Any attempts at planning for a child’s education could be further exacerbated if you were to die in an accident and left unable to contribute to the monthly household income. Even worse is the scenario where you are left disabled or bed-ridden due to illness or injury, and a potential financial burden on the household. While these are unpleasant to think about, it is vital to consider the implications of death and disability if only for the fact that it could subsequently affect the educational needs of your children.

There are numerous savings options available for parents who wish to start saving for their children’s education. There is an age-old rule that the sooner you start saving, the more likely your savings will outperform those who start later. Many young couples implement a small savings plan prior to having conceived, simply because it would remove the burden later.

For those who are planning for death, disability or disease, the recent advent of policies and funds addressing the concern of your children’s educational needs, from creche to university, locally or abroad, could be the game-changer that will help parents plan for unforeseen events.

Consult with your financial planner and stress your concerns regarding the school fees and how important it is for you. By addressing this potential obstacle early on, it could help you prepare your children for their future.

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