Private schools warn over fee portrayal

The Independent Schools Council of Australia (ISCA) has cautioned parents about “glossy marketing campaigns” for education focused financial products that misrepresent the cost of Independent school fees.

ISCA said that while it supports using “sensible strategies” to help provide for their children’s schooling, parents should note that school fee estimates quoted in the marketing material of these products do not reflect the majority of Independent schools.

One examples of this was a claim made last year by the Australian Scholarships Group (ASG) that the total national average cost of metropolitan K-12 independent schooling for a child born in 2017 would be close to $500,000.

ISCA Executive Director, Colette Colman, said that while ASG admit their school fee figures represent the upper ranges that parents can reasonably expect to pay, “they neglect to show just how small a proportion of Australia’s Independent schools are actually charging the kind of fees that could contribute to those sorts of cumulative costs”.

“ASG’s fee estimates stated in 2017 the national metropolitan upper-range figure parents could expect to pay in secondary school fees is $20,898 per annum,” Colman said.

“However, the most recent official data available data shows a median Australian metropolitan Independent school fee of $6,441 per annum. Nationally, 70 per cent of metropolitan Independent schools are charging below $10,000 per annum.”

Colman added that “fees in Independent schools vary greatly, with the majority of them much more affordable than modelling like ASG’s suggests”.

How parents can save on costs

Colman said there are numerous ways parents can save on costs, pointing out that many Independent schools offering scholarships, all-inclusive fees, and discounts for siblings or lump sum payments.

“We would strongly urge parents to do their own research on the fees of schools that interest them,” Colman said.

ISCA’s school fee information is derived from data of fees collected from all Australian Independent schools in 2016 (the most recent year for which accurate data is available), and reflects the great diversity that can be found across schools and between states and territories.

ASG last year stated that their school fee estimates were derived from a combination of 2013 and 2015 surveys of their parent members (and adjusted for CPI), which asked them to estimate various costs that they paid for their children’s schooling.

They state these are a guide only and do not guarantee that they will represent actual costs.

Related stories:
Private schools warn of fee hikes amid funding changes
Schools warn of big fee hikes


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