Florence Chevalier, mum of 3 children under 8 and UAE resident, has noticed the pinch with her 3rd child starting school this year: “We are now paying more for school fees than for rent.” Bearing in mind, that in Florence’s home country of France, only 12% of schools are fee paying, “It’s a huge part of our monthly budget.”
Rana Asef Chief Operating Officer for a private insurance company and mother of two said; “There is a huge variance in tuition fees in the UAE. We did our due diligence and chose the best fit for our children, from a cost perspective one should factor in some increments over the years to be ready. A little bit of foresight goes a long way”. “In Jordan private schools can be very expensive and the options are not as many, so there is a positive side to everything” she concludes.
Another perspective from Mark Wagner a senior executive from England, is that school fees here are cheaper than the top-quality private schools in England. Plus, in England, school fees have to be paid from a salary that has been heavily taxed. While his school fees are some of the most expensive in the UAE, he feels it’s worth every penny.
60% of schools in the UAE are private. So, what is the cost of educating your child? And how can parents make sure they have the funds available?
Many expats are finding that education allowances from companies are going down, but school fees have been steadily rising over the years. Every time your child enters a new stage, the annual cost increases. An example in Edarabia: GEMS Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis has an annual cost for Y6 of AED 45,380, but in Y7 the cost increases by approximately AED 27,700 per annum.
The good news is that the landscape of primary and secondary education in the UAE is vast and the government has made ‘high educational standards’ a key objective. Quality of education continues to rise, and the choices increase. From commercial to non-profit, one can find schools from all corners of the globe; Canada, France, Germany, India, Iran, Pakistan, UK and USA just to name a few. Each type of school comes with a different curriculum, but they all have to abide by the Ministry of Education’s Vision 2021. In addition, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) is responsible for the growth and quality of private education in Dubai, which sets high quality standards for schools to fulfil.
The range of school fees in the UAE is also extremely broad. A recent article in whichschooladvisors.com states that “A new report by online education guide Edarabia has shown that average school fees in Dubai can range from AED 2,479 to AED 120,145 depending on the age of students (that's USD 675 to USD 32,711 per annum), and this is not including additional fees for admission, transportation, school uniforms and books”.
The important question parents often ask themselves is, which school system is right for their child and more importantly, how much can they afford to pay?
Given the wide range of school fees, parents need to develop strategies to pay for their children’s education. Most schools ask for fees to be paid at the beginning of the term, which can come as a challenge to many families. While the most common method is to pay by bank transfer, what are the other options?
We asked Upendra Balchandani, Head of Products at CBI, how parents can prepare and plan to cover their children’s education expenses?
There are 4 key options to consider:
1) Pay with Credit Card: Schools tend to ask for each term’s fees upfront, so paying by Credit Card would also mean that you can stage your payments over a few months. CBI allows you to convert school fee credit card transaction to 6 monthly equal instalments at 0% interest and 0% processing fee. As for all other retail transactions you will also earn CBI Reward Points that you can redeem on free flights. To find out how to get free flights, read this CBI blog. If your school does not accept credit cards, you can also request for a physical cheque with a 2% processing fee, which will also enable you to make the payment back to your credit card in equal monthly instalments at 0% Interest.
2) Easy Payment Plans: Ask your bank what payment plans they offer. CBI offers 0% interest instalment loans for Credit Card school fee payments without any processing fee.
3) Start a Savings account: Many parents can prepare by putting money aside in a savings account each month. Not only will you save money, but, with the variety of savings products at CBI, you can earn up to 4% p.a interest on your savings. Aspireto save with CBI’s hassle-free savings account. Alternatively, if you are in a position to plan ahead, you can set aside your following years’ school fees in a 12-month Fixed Deposit account and earn 4% p.a interest. Many schools also offer a discount if you pay the annual fees upfront.
4) Start a Long-Term Fund: If you recently had a baby, you have a few years to save. Invest in an eSaver and you can earn 3%a interest and have flexibility to access your funds anytime.
School fees for the next term are around the corner. Talk to your school and know your options to make sure you are prepared.