As parents we often ask our children what they want to become when they grow up. The enthusiastic responses may vary from doctor and teacher to astronaut and lawyer. While these ambitions are charming, one thing remains certain: your child is going to need a university qualification before they can put on that lab coat or space suit one day.
Unfortunately, South Africa's economic landscape is currently far less rosy than you may wish for your child. With education inflation now exceeding general inflation by 5.3 %, according to Stats SA, many South Africans will find it challenging to foot the bill for university study. A personal loan can help to relieve the cost of smaller expenses such as textbooks and stationary, but what about the tuition and residential fees which, when combined, can be as high as R300 000 per year?
The increasing rate of education shouldn't prevent your child from reaching their goals. We spoke with a number of influencers on how you can effectively manage the daunting costs of tuition.
Compare the fees of different universities
If your child knows what they want to study then the first step is to shop around for the university which offers the highest quality related course at the lowest price compared to its competitors.
"The University of KwaZulu-Natal is ranked as one of the top five leading research universities in the country and their student fees, within this category of top research universities, are the lowest in the country," says Mr Baatile Poo, acting registrar at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
"The UKZN is a multi-campus, residential, teaching and research-led university located in the picturesque province of KwaZulu-Natal. It has a proud and rich heritage of academic excellence. The year 2010 marked the centenary of Higher Education in the province of KwaZulu-Natal – a centenary of scholarship, innovation and community engagement. This vast wealth of knowledge production lies at the heart of the university’s success as one of the top institutions on the African continent.
The approximate cost of an undergraduate degree varies between qualification and colleges.
Price fluctuation range per annum per course:
College of Health Sciences: R35 000 – R50 0000
College of Law and Management Studies: R25 000 – R44 000
College of Humanities: R35 000 – R48 000
College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science: R29 000 – R48 000
Fees are charged by module on a semester basis. Tuition fees include laboratory fees, examination fees (excluding supplementary examination fees), library subscriptions, student facilities and personal accident insurance. Charges relating to the provision of additional material, e.g. supplementary/ lecture notes, field trips, copyright fees, where applicable, will be raised separately, depending on the particular modules for which students are registered. Prescribed text books are explicitly excluded from the definition of tuition fees. Details of the charges for each module, as well as supplementary charges, may be obtained from the offices of the various colleges, student fees and student academic administration.” stated Mr Poo
Get a head-start. Plan early
"The move from school fees to university fees was a major adjustment," says Beverley Dias, a marketing and communications consultant and single mom to a 19 year old. "With my daughter at a private school, I thought that university would be a breeze, as I assumed I would be paying less. I got a nasty surprise when I realised that I would be paying much more.
Her Matric school fees were R60 000. 00 for the year, which was steep on my single salary, but the fee covered all outings for the year as well as things like the Matric Dance entry fee as well as her exam fee. At university, I pay R60 000.00 for her tuition and rent, then there is still money for groceries and cosmetics. Second year textbooks cost me R6 000.00, there is a fee for printing on campus, cell phone and laptop data contracts, clothes, entertainment, etc. She is also an Enactus Ambassador and, with the organisation being non-profit, all travel costs and camp fees are for the student's account.
I always tell my friends that as soon as that pregnancy test comes back positive, they should get cracking with saving for their child's education and if there is more than one, parents need to cut down on luxuries and throw as much money as possible into the kitty every month. I, fortunately, have just one, but this has not lightened the load in any way. I used to do projections to estimate how much I would be paying when Toni started university, but I still fell short. Saving is vital!"
Apply for a bursary or scholarship
"I would definitely encourage my daughter to apply for scholarships and bursaries," says Beverly. "In fact, I am working on that presently. We try to stretch our funds as far as possible.
Most scholarships/bursaries cover tuition, accommodation and textbooks and some even involve an allowance. If I did not have to pay for those expenses, I would put a portion of that money into savings and use the rest for other pressing expenses."
The subject of bursary application is a tricky one, according to Moheshini Rajaruthnam, an engineer and guest writer. "Having studied engineering, I encountered many bursary applications and even more successful applicants at university."
“There are many companies that encourage people to apply for these bursaries in the hopes that they will secure the most brilliant students as an employee in the future. These bursaries are great because they offer people a chance at their dreams and an opportunity that was financially out of their reach.
If, as a parent, you can afford your child’s fees it might be an idea to leave these bursaries open to those who truly cannot afford it. It gives children a chance at something they may never have thought possible.”
The prospect of tertiary education is something most parents worry about, but these simple strategies can help prepare you and your child for the future. Even with unstable economic conditions, it is possible to achieve the aspirations you have in mind for your child. Through the clever use of a personal loan you can provide your child with the best opportunity to succeed, but remember to consult a trained financial advisor before taking any loan based action.