Is anyone as terrified by future school fees as much as I am?

January 13, 2017

Written in partnership with Liberty

Just like my age, and sadly, just like the reading on my bathroom scale, things tend to increase every year, like school fees, and much as I'm happy and proud as my son progresses from grade to grade, it's a bit startling when we get the letter from his school every October stating the increased fees for the following year.

And whether you shopped for stationery or uniforms recently or back in November/December, you'll know how expensive everything is (I mean, a stick of 43g Pritt Glue is around 35, for heaven's sake). 

Before school, raising a child costs around R1 million

According to the experts, the average costs of raising a child are estimated at a staggering R1 million before they even start grade one.

Also, research indicates that education inflation increases annually by 8% to 9%, which is about 3% higher than consumer price inflation. Based on that percentage, if, let's say, you pay R30 000 for a year in school fees, in five years' time you'll be paying just over R44 000. Five years after that, you'll be paying almost R65 000.

But wait, it doesn't end here. It is estimated that three years of university education will currently cost R300 000 to R350 000 for tuition, books, accommodation, and board examinations and other expenses such as a computer, cellphone and internet access.

A child can cost up to R90 000 a year

But if you had to start configuring a budget, you’ll note that, excluding inflation, your child costs you approximately R90 000 every year. Admittedly, that cost has to take lifestyle factors into consideration, but it’s a basic figure, it doesn’t include holidays, birthday parties or private schools. 

So, the question is, what provisions have you made for your child's education, and what happens if you or your partner aren't around to pay the bills? I admit that I don't really have provisions – my biggest financial weakness is that while I have the basic insurance and life policies, my spending and saving revolves around the now, and I'm not always thinking about things next year, let alone when my son is in matric.

Aside from buying stationery on sale and second-hand uniform where I can, and choosing a school that isn't too far away (less petrol expense), I'm unprepared for the future costs. According to Liberty though, there are options to cover you and your kids, and me and mine.

An education policy

Liberty’s EduCator Benefit programme covers expenses for primary school, high school and even Ivy League universities across the globe. The Progressive EduCator policy even gives you money to pay for textbooks and boarding, and not just tuition.

The programme also provides the following

  • Tuition fees, paid directly to the education institution

  • Allowances for international study at an approved institution

  • Supplementary allowance for other expenses associated with education, e.g. uniforms, stationery and textbooks

  • Achievement allowance to reward a child that excels in a sport or cultural or other activity and represents a South African province

  • Education for special needs if the child needs to attend an approved institution for the mentally or physically disabled

  • Guaranteed cover for newborn babies


You can find out more about Liberty’s EduCator Benefit on, or you can ask your financial adviser for more info.

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  • Angelique

    I am terrified, and my daughter is only two now. I have watched in horror and heart ache how my girl friends struggle to get subsidy due to the ex partners/fathers not providing the required paper work to apply for the grant. I myself am in a situation where the father denies he is biologically responsible for her, refuses to go for the blood tests, he requested, so where does that leave me ?

    January 13, 2017 at 6:27 am Reply
  • Megan Kelly Botha

    Casually living in denial until about last week, when my pregnancy hormones has me over-worrying about things and thus googling school fees at 1am in the morning.

    January 15, 2017 at 5:26 pm Reply
  • lameez

    Yes..terrified big time. Feel the same , its a real worrying .Me and husband talk about this a few times. At the moment my husband work alone to provide. All we can do is work on the now .

    January 16, 2017 at 8:05 am Reply
  • Di

    What’s terrifying for us is the fact that we have to provide for our son until he dies….. and he will definitely outlive us. Such a worry.

    February 28, 2017 at 11:30 am Reply
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