What it’s worth knowing about School Bursaries and Scholarships

Choosing a school for your child is one of the major decisions you will make as a parent. You may have ruled out independent education due to the fees. Indeed most families are priced out of the market, especially if they have more than one child, however, before making that final decision, it might be worth knowing what kind of financial assistance is available and where you can get more information.

Increasingly, independent schools are embarking on campaigns to raise more funds for means-tested bursaries. Did you know that around a third of children educated in the independent sector receive some level of fee remission?

Most independent schools are charities with obligations to extend their provision to children who warrant places but whose parents cannot afford the fees. This is why, if you take a look on most independent school websites, you will find a statement relating to “widening access to the brightest but most financially disadvantaged pupils”.

These are commonly only awarded to pupils in the top 50% of performance in the Entrance Exanimations and all bursaries will be means tested, their value being related to the income and financial resources of the pupil’s family. Many schools actually offer up to 100% school fee reduction.

The fact is, good schools want and need children with high ability. If your child is academically bright, you might be eligible for a significant fee reduction to secure the best independent education for them. Clever children improve overall school results, win sporting events and add trophies to their cabinets!

A school’s ability to offer bursaries is related to demand and supply. It therefore depends on the level of interest and volume of applications as to the percentage of eligible students that are able to actually receive a bursary, even if they qualify. It therefore would make sense to your family to shop around rather than place all your hopes on one school.

Scholarships can be very specific and not overly financially relevant, for example there are scholarships for the children of clergy, doctors and single parents. There are specific scholarships for talented singers, dancers, artists and sportspeople, which may be worth looking at if your child has a stand-out talent.

Probably one of the most important aspects of this is to do what is best for your child. If they would really like to attend independent school, they are highly capable and your financial circumstances meet the criteria, then it can’t hurt to be informed about what is on offer.

Some tips for your search:

• Ask early about bursaries at your chosen schools
• Don’t be shy: independent schools expect enquiries about bursaries
• Be prepared to be means-tested. Revealing how much your car, house & holidays cost are essential parts of means testing
• If you don’t get a bursary when your child is 11, try again at 14 or 16 when there may be less competition

Good luck with your search. More information can be found on the Good Schools Guide http://bit.ly/1GyKEuY

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