How much does it cost to put your child through school?

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Parents in the UAE are now looking at spending almost Dh1 million to put a single child through school, according to a new Zurich International Life Limited report.

The report, issued this week, calculated the average costs of education in the UAE, starting from pre-primary school and going all the way up to university. Including degree-level education, the report said that the lifetime education cost for a single child came to around Dh933,945 – and that’s without taking inflation or compound interest rates into account.

The report arrived at this daunting number by looking at the fees charged by various schools around the UAE, as well as estimating related costs that parents have to pay over the course of their children’s education.

“A typical family with two children could look at spending as much as Dh2 million on education,” explained Amrita Sethi, head of marketing and communications for Zurich International Life, Middle East.

Sethi added that the majority of parents now have to incur these costs themselves, with very few businesses in the UAE providing financial support for school fees. What’s more, she said, university education is paid for using day-to-day income for 70% of parents.

According to the report, the average parent can expect to pay Dh528,390 per child for pre-school, primary school and secondary school. However, Zurich added that these costs could increase by 40% if parents chose to send their children to elite schools. What’s more, this number does not include the costs of uniforms, books or school trips.

University costs add even more to the mix, with the average UK universities costing around Dh57,000 per year on tuition alone. And UAE-based universities charge up to Dh76,000 per year, according to the report.

The stellar costs involved in educating a child in the UAE mean that parents are encouraged to plan their finances extremely carefully.

“It’s a huge expense that, without proper savings and financial planning, is very difficult to meet and often at the opportunity cost of planning for other important goals, such as retirement,” said Sethi.

There are educational bank schemes available for parents by way of a personal loan via a credit card to make monthly repayments; a few larger networked schools offer such a facility at 0 % interest, but as with other loans if a borrower defaults, the penalties can be very high.

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