With the ever increasing level of fees charged by independent schools many parents are finding that their plans of sending their children to a particular prep-school and then onto a hoped for private school are having to be delayed or permanently shelved.
All is not lost, however, since most private schools have bursarial arrangements, which is to say that under certain specific circumstances they may be able to reduce the termly fees charged for your child to attend their school.
Bursaries vs Scholarships
It used to be the case that if a child did very well in their entrance exams they may well be awarded a ‘scholarship place’ and with that a significant reduction in the fees their parents would have to pay.
One of the problems with this was that if wealthier parents were able to support their child’s studies, perhaps by employing tutors for example, then they would gain a significant financial benefit from having a significant amount of their fee cancelled out, even though they may well have been able to quite easily afford to pay for their child to attend the school.
Over time, therefore, they relationship between bursaries and scholarships has shifted, such that now in most instances a scholarship award will confer either a ‘notional’ award or a maximum reduction of five to ten percent in the termly fees.
This means, however, that schools now have more funds available to support the applications from parents who may not be able to cover the full fee amount themselves.
How much might a bursary award be for?
There is no single official source of information that provides bursary information for all private schools.
This is understandable since the intention underpinning a bursary is that it is to help provide for parents of children who might not be able to attend a particular school. & no school would want to feel that parents had applied to them for a bursary purely because they provided the largest in cash terms.
It’s therefore always best to indentify the most appropriate school or schools for a child and then, if necessary, to discuss bursaries thereafter but before making any final decisions.
How many students receive bursarial support?
Analysis of school brochures suggests that around one-third of all students receive some amount of financial assistance and this ranges from a nominal 10-15% up to a 100% bursary.
Furthermore, in certain circumstances additional support, such as with uniforms, IT and school mandated trips can also be provided for.
Who decides how much a bursary will be?
In order to ensure that the school’s funds are focused upon helping both the most able and most in need of financial assistance there is always a means-tested process to be carried out. In order to ensure scrupulous fairness and lack of bias, many schools employ the services of external assessors who will often come out to visit prospective parents, who will have been required to have completed a detailed assessment of their assets and income.
Will where we live / where the school is located make a difference?
All fee-charging schools are mindful of the varying cost of living in different locations throughout the UK. Because of this, different schools each have differing threshold levels as to whether they can offer a bursary.
In addition to location, whether you are seeking a day place or a boarding place will make a difference to how your application is assessed, along with whether there may be younger siblings whom you may hope to secure another bursary for in a few years time.