School Fees

School Fees

Thursday, 26 October 2017  | Gerry - Administration Manager
Last week we published our 2018 school fees in the newsletter and now also on our website. There wasn’t space to offer any commentary, but if you did the maths you would see that the increase is 3%, though the maximum fee ceiling increased by the lesser amount of 2.2%. This compares with an increase of 3.3% for 2017, and average increases of around 5% annually for quite a few years before 2017. The Board is very conscious of affordability issues and so we have been working to achieve lower increases. The 3% increase is aligned a little below the ABS’s Education Price Index (EPI) which was 3.3% for the 12 months to June 2017, remaining below its long term average of over 5% (the EPI is still more than CPI inflation but not as much as before).

Of course increases in fees need to be kept as low as possible to keep the school affordable. Where affordability becomes a challenge, we have a process to give some help to those families who are comitted. When families have shown they are committed they can apply for assistance through a confidential fee assistance process that assesses the level of need (contact Craig Goldsmith in the office if you need details on how to apply).

A look at the fee rates of other local independent schools will show you that the MECS fee rates are comparatively affordable. That’s usually not a simple thing to do because comparing fees between schools can be like comparing ‘apples and pears’. Scholarships at other schools; our significant discounts for 2nd and 3rd children at MECS and our maximum family fee ceiling (rarely seen in other schools) here at MECS don’t always lead to easy comparisons. Also, MECS works very hard at the ‘one fee pays all’ approach. We don’t want to advertise one fee rate and then later ‘load on’ a whole lot of ‘hidden extras’ such as subject levies, laptop fees, and camp fees that mean the real actual rate is a lot higher. The only extras you’ll see on a MECS bill are for optional things like Instrumental Music Tuition (if your child learns an instrument) or optional VET courses. And the only other items that may come as additional costs are items such as sports tops, a small number of textbooks in secondary, and if you use the bus – our very economical transport fees. Other than some Catholic providers, we are one of the least expensive providers of independent education in our immediate region. This is because we take seriously the priority of our mission to keep fees affordable.

Back in August I wrote about the new government funding regime so I won’t repeat that here. Still, the level of our fees does relate to how much government funding we will receive. In 2018 we estimate that 63% of the school’s income will come from government funding (both Commonwealth and State); pretty much the same as in 2017. In thinking about that I’d like to remind you that whatever is said about government funding of non-government schools, the fact is that students at Independent schools receive significantly less government funding than students at government schools. Approximately 15% of Victorian students are enrolled in Independent schools. Combined State and Commonwealth Governments save around about $900 million dollars per year because Victorian children are in Independent schools.

We know that each family in our community makes a financial sacrifice to invest in their children’s education. We know it is not easy. We hope that we have struck the right balance between keeping the school affordable and keeping it viable. Thank you for partnering with us.

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