Easing the tuition burden
By Mike Aquino for Yahoo! Southeast Asia | BDO Money Matters
When the bill for our child’s tuition arrives, the wife and I remember our kid-free days with some nostalgia. Forking over the equivalent cost of an iPad every trimester will do that: you’ll think about all the stuff you used to be able to buy on a whim when you weren’t paying for your loved ones’ education, and remind yourself the money is going to a good cause.
We’re lucky to be able to afford a good education for our only kid; not all of us are so fortunate. With tuition fees increasing year after year, a lot of other parents struggle with the burden of sending their kids to the best school possible with their present resources.
What can you do to ease the weight on your shoulders? Fortunately, you have options.
Ask about the school’s installment program. Most schools allow some flexibility in their payment terms, although the total cost of the tuition fee rises with the number of payments you make in the school year.
The wife and I chose to pay on a trimestral basis, which works for us—but we pay a few thousand pesos more overall than parents who pay for the whole schoolyear in one go. Some schools even offer discounts to parents who pay for the whole year at the outset—something to consider if total savings matter more to you than staggering the pain across the schoolyear.
Be mindful, too, of any penalties imposed for late payments. Some schools automatically impose a penalty of 2 percent or more if you miss the deadline.
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Don’t shoulder the load by yourself. My wife and I split the tuition bill down the middle—but what if you have other stakeholders invested in your kid’s education? Have them help you out. Grandma? Generous ninong? In these expensive times, pride shouldn’t get in the way of helping your child get the best education possible.
See if your child qualifies for a student loan or grant. You can get some help on your kid’s education from your friendly local government or a private foundation, assuming your situation merits assistance in their eyes.
For example, the local government of Taguig has set aside about P1.121 billion to offer the Taguig Learner’s Certificate (TLC) that provides assistance to about 1,500 deserving public school students. The money pays for their education in one of 27 accredited Taguig private schools. The program is designed to decongest the city’s public school system without compromising on the kids’ education—something that not a few Taguig parents have been happy to get behind.
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Plenty of other local governments have scholarship plans of their own. Ask the local city hall if a similar program exists in your city or municipality; if one does, better take advantage.
Consider bank loans. Many financial institutions in the Philippines offer loan products that are specifically designed to defray tuition costs, like personal loans. Ask your local bank about their tuition assistance program, but only choose the program whose interest rates seem reasonable, and whose payments you can meet.
Consider less costly schools. Yes, education costs money. And sometimes you’ll have to bite the bullet and compromise if the math doesn’t add up. Luckily, pricier does not necessarily mean better; a growing number of alternative schools offer excellent results while charging less than the more established names in the neighborhood.
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The alternative need not be the neighborhood public school; you could choose a newer private school that has yet to make a name for itself, or you might choose a secular school over an exclusive religious school. Where school selection is concerned, you can actually economize without making too big a compromise.
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