Part 02

Tips to help finance a private-school education

Smart strategies can help you invest in your child’s future

One obstacle on the road to a private-school education can be tuition, which some families fear is a financial commitment too substantial to manage. “Such concerns are understandable, given the financial climate many are now facing,” says Anthony Broomfield, director of admissions at Blyth Academy. “[My] advice would be to focus and plan for the long-term success of their child.” By taking some savvy steps, parents can access the funds they need.

Enlist a financial planner

First, get expert advice on how you can best leverage your existing finances and how to plan for the entirety of your child’s education. This includes tuition as well as other fees a private school may charge. “You’ll find this information under ‘Admissions’ on a school’s website,” says Dave Darby, assistant head of enrolment at Lakefield College School. “Contact the school to ask about any standard or incidental fees that may exist.” A financial planner can help you develop a long-term strategy, identify possible income streams and optimize your investments. 

Talk to the school

Be honest about your financial needs. Many private schools offer bursaries, scholarships and/or financial aid. “[We have] a financial-aid program that is aimed at helping the school attract and retain talented students who may not otherwise afford the cost of tuition,” says Nancy Richards, head of school at St. Mildred’s-Lightbourn School. As well, some schools provide a discount when enrolling multiple children or offer a flexible payment plan. 

Claim the Canada Child Benefit (CCB)

The CCB is a tax-free monthly payment from the Canadian government to aid with the cost of raising a child under 18. In 2021, the CCB was $6,833 per year for every child under six years of age, and $5,765 per year for every child between six and 17. To optimize the CCB, start claiming it as soon as your child is born, and invest that money toward future education. Tip: Contributing to your RRSP every year helps lower your net income, which then boosts your annual CCB amount. 

Investigate tax deductions

While private-school tuition as a whole is not tax-deductible, some of it might be. If your child has special needs and the school offers services to support their learning, you may be eligible for a medical-expense tax deduction on your annual return. Similarly, if the school offers before- or after-school care, part of the tuition may be eligible as a child-care expense. And if the school provides religious education and is a registered charity, a portion of the tuition may be eligible as a charitable donation. 

Keep looking

“An investment in a private-school education is an investment in your child’s future,” says Darby, so explore all your options. Many charities, community groups, sports teams and religious institutions award needs-based scholarships to students enrolling in private schools, and many companies offer scholarships to their employees’ children. The key is to do your homework early and be prepared to keep exploring new opportunities until you find the solution that fits you best.