There comes a time in every parents life when they reach a cross-roads in their decision making abilities.
Private or public schooling?
What appears to be a relatively trivial choice from the distance and warm glow of your child’s birth, becomes a very distressing and real life dilemma (albeit a first world one) in far less time than you first thought possible.
The great debate
As someone who tends to watch their money reasonably closely, my initial reaction to the whole debate is to dismiss private schooling and opt for the public option, firm in my willingness to provide active support and assistance in my children’s education.
Unfortunately things aren’t so cut and dry. While the idea of effectively paying for a brand new car every 1-2 years doesn’t sit too well with me, there are far more considerations to take into account than just the financial ones.
Public schooling has a lot going for it these days and may are even becoming quite elite in their own right, but private schools still hold a certain amount of sway when it comes to educational opportunities, social preparedness and extracurricular activities. My wife and I are both very keen to see our children have the best education we can provide for them, so this decision has been quite a difficult one.
Although some suggest that private schooling is effective at all levels and particularly so during the early development years, we are leaning towards a public primary school followed by a private secondary school for both of our children.
Hopefully this choice proves to be a good. While we will be doing everything we can on the home front to ensure we support our kids, only time will tell. In any case, we like to think that being actively involved will be worth far more to the development of knowledge and good habits than working longer hours to fund the required cost.
Funding an education
While it’s nice to have the decision made and a plan in place, we know that we need to be mindful of the illusion of breathing space that our decision has created. Secondary education will roll around in a short amount of time, so we need to get to work on establishing an education fund for both of our girls.
After finally settling on a decision and a plan of attack, I thought that we had our long range planning under control, but as with most well laid plans our foresight got the better of us.
Although it is still early days, my wife and I both feel that we would like to encourage our children to attend university. Given the importance we have placed on education, it is a logical progression. Of course this means further tuition costs, which we need to build into the education fund.
I’m in the process of investigating education savings plans and although I live in Australia, I’ve been quite interested in reading about the US 529 saving plans and similar options like the RESP grant in Canada. Things are a little different for us here, but there are a few different strategies I could use to leverage regular savings and grow this over the next 8-10 years (before it starts to get used!).
A little help?
As you may have guessed, my wife and I have very little to base our judgement on (we both attended public schools), so any additional thoughts and comments are welcome, particularly if you have experienced a similar situation yourself.
Please feel free to add a comment below and weigh in on the debate!
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