Can I Afford Private School?

Short answer: Yes. Long answer: Continue reading.

There are many studies, many researchers, and many of my blog posts that attest to the plethora of benefits your child will glean from acquiring a private school education. However, while enrolling your child in private school may have become an important family goal, you may be wondering about the daunting financial aspect.

Allow me to dispel a resilient private school myth, that only the elite can afford an elite education. Not true. Twenty-first-century private schools do not resemble the demographics of private schools from the past. A 2007 Ontario report noted that only half of all private school families reported an annual income of over $120,000. Middle-class families are quickly becoming one of the largest cohorts enrolling at private schools across Ontario, and if they can do it, so can you.

One of the first financial strategies I recommend is searching for a reputable private school with a more affordable price tag. Upper Canada College, the famous male-only boarding school, enjoys a notable reputation, but that comes at a debilitating cost: $30,000-$60,000 in annual fees. There are many other excellent independent schools in Ontario that offer a competitive education at a mid-range cost, one-third of that glaring price tag.

Another valuable tip is to pay in monthly installments instead of one lump sum, which is an option many private schools offer. Also, if you have more than one child, find a private school that offers a sibling deal.

Besides the obvious scholarships and bursaries tip, many financial advisors recommend families to apply for financial aid or ask for assistance, regardless of their income. Why? Because there could be many pleasant surprises to doing so, and it never hurts. You never know what benefits are available the year you apply, or how many other families who have not thought to apply. Private schools are competitive, but they are also competing amongst themselves for enrolment. Therefore they are more than willing to work with families to make a private school education a reality.

You could also qualify for a Canadian tax credit, and don’t forget, public school isn’t technically “free”; you are already subsidizing your child’s education on every tax return, so why not have some control over where your child is educated?

Lastly, prioritize prioritize prioritize! Maybe you won’t be able to buy a new high-end car for the next few years, or go on an out-of-country vacation for the next few summers. These are sacrifices that only you can decide whether to make. More and more families are rearranging their finances to accommodate their child’s private school education by withholding from spending their hard-earned income on short-term pleasures.

Yes, private school is an investment; however it is an investment with a great return. Your child will be receiving a world-class education taught by highly qualified teachers in a rigorous academic environment, supported by other likeminded high-achieving students who will actually value the education they are receiving because they know how much you, their parents, have sacrificed to ensure they will have a successful future.

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