Managing the crippling cost of private school fees is a hotly discussed subject among us expats. We chat to Andrew Talbot from Expat Financial Planning, a division of Global Eye, on how to prepare and plan for those dreaded international school payments. He’s one of the only Expat Certified Financial Planners (CFP) in Singapore and a member of the Financial Planning Association of Singapore, so he knows his stuff.
“International school fees are three words that can strike fear into a parent’s heart,” says Andrew. “From the moment of birth, we are bombarded by advertising encouraging us to save for our children’s education. But what happens when your annual tuition bill for an international school in Singapore is equal to, or more than, the annual cost at some of the world’s best universities? With careful planning you can survive the cost of private schooling in Singapore.
How much does tuition actually cost?
Fees increase with grade level, with tuition at Singapore’s international schools ranging from $13,000 – $47,000 per year. Be aware that many schools have extra costs, ranging from application fees to building funds, transportation and more. Be sure to fully investigate the total cost of schooling, before you commit financially and make an application.
Where many overseas postings used to boast a generous financial package that covered education, today, more people are ‘going local’, opting for packages without benefits. Thankfully, international schools have taken note of the changing expatriate financial climate, and most now offer a selection of payment plans to soften some of the sticker shocks. Be sure to discuss an instalment plan with your school of choice.
How much should I budget for for school fees?
From a budget perspective, we suggest you allocate up to $4,000 per calendar month per child for tuition at one of the major international schools. If you select a smaller school with less co-curricular activities, you may be able to reduce this figure by up to 50%.
How can I save for future school fees?
Consider investing in an education savings plan to cover future university fees. There are a variety of education investment plans available in Singapore that generally start at around $675 per month. Also, consider options in the home country of the school or university. For instance, the US has dedicated plans that are extremely tax-efficient. Some schools have their own internal schemes; these usually involve payment of upfront fees, but you receive a discount. The other alternatives include using existing investment portfolios or pay the fees out of your income.
What are the advantages of a specific education saving scheme over other investment products?
Having a dedicated education plan can take the pressure off finding the money when it’s needed to pay education fees. But it’s prudent to also look at using other family investments – such as an existing portfolio account or cash savings to withdraw fees from; this can save on transaction and administration costs.
Expat Financial Planning offers bespoke financial planning services, including advice on how to create a family budget tailored specifically to your requirements. Contact them to craft a school fee plan to fit your family.
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More financial tips for expats and more tips on how to save for your child’s edcuation.