Meeting the Cost

Meeting the cost of school fees

In 2014-15, Scotland's independent schools are giving £45 million in financial assistance to widen access

Independent schools in Scotland are sensitive to the lifestyle sacrifices that many parents make in order to afford school fees, particularly in the current economic climate. The vast majority of schools in membership of SCIS offer financial assistance, mainly in the form of means-tested awards. This is done to enable children from lower income households, who otherwise would not have the opportunity of an independent education, to benefit. Schools are keen to encourage more families on lower incomes to apply, so that funds can be awarded to those in greatest need. The total amount of financial assistance provided by SCIS schools is currently £45 million. Some children receive a free place (where 100% of the fees are met by the school) while others receive a smaller contribution from 20% upwards.

In applying to an independent school for financial assistance, you will be asked to complete a form, giving details of your financial circumstances, including both income and assets. This enables the school to make awards fairly and to prioritise those whose need is greatest. Where means-tested awards are made, schools usually commit to continuing to support a pupil for the duration of his/her education at that school, although parents are required to provide details of any changes in their financial circumstances each year.

Understandably, some parents are hesitant about making an application for financial assistance to so-called "private" schools because they worry that their child may not fit in. The fact is that pupils at Scottish independent schools come from diverse social and cultural backgrounds and they are helped to settle in quickly through each school's induction programme and its guidance system.

Financial assistance from grant-making trusts for those in genuine need

In cases of genuine need, charitable grant-making trusts can sometimes help parents to meet the cost of school fees at independent schools. Some trusts will help where a child already attends an independent school but is at risk of having to leave at a critical stage of their education due to an unforeseen change in financial circumstances caused by, for example, serious ill health or the death of a parent. In exceptional circumstances, some trusts will provide financial support to enable children to attend independent schools, especially where it can be demonstrated that the child's needs cannot be met adequately elsewhere or, in the case of boarding, if there is a family difficulty at home which makes the home environment unsuitable. SCIS has compiled a list of trusts, available to view here, that will consider applications for help in meeting school fees, including eligibility criteria and contact details. Since the number of applications trusts receive often outweighs the available funds, please consider carefully whether you meet the eligibility criteria before making an application. 

'Investing in your child's education may cost less than you think.'



Meeting the Cost