The real costs of education

back to school; the real cost of education

By now, you’ve probably realised that having a child completely changes your priorities and outlook on life – nothing is more important, more precious, or more loved than your child. But oh my goodness, our little people don’t come cheap?! According to the experts, the average costs of raising a child is estimated at about R1 000 000 before they even start grade one – that’s six zeroes for a six year old!! Most of our schools re-opened this week and lots of Mama’s have first time school-goers, what better time than now to start talking about the rising costs of education?


back to school; the real cost of education


What is the real cost of education and what goes into it?

It’s estimated that three years of university education will currently cost R300 000 to R350 000. This includes, tuition, text books, accommodation, board exams and other expenses such as a computers/tablets, printing, cell phones and internet access.

I bet you didn’t even realise you make that much money?! If you had to start configuring a budget, you’ll note that (excluding inflation) your child costs you approximately R90 000 every year, and that’s just the essentials. It doesn’t include holidays, birthday parties, professional therapy, extra lessons like swimming, etc. It begs the questions, what provisions have you made for your little one’s education? More importantly, what happens if you’re no longer there to foot these bills?


How we have saved or reduced our education costs:


Choosing the right school for your family: you might have read about us changing Lesedi’s school. Although cost wasn’t the reason we moved him, we have managed to save SO much just from moving him to a school that is 3KM’s away (= less petrol and no additional after care required). This move was from a private school to a very well established and administered public school – there are so many myths that we don’t have anymore good public schools and this is not true. Do your research and choose the school that will suit your budget, needs and lifestyle. My blog post on the public vs private school debate might be useful for you.


We save up and pay for school fees in advance (i.e. before 31 December), which means that we save up 10-15% of the annual fees. This goes a looooong way and frees up some cash for the extra lessons, speech therapy etc.


I started saving for high school and university very early: Just like you start saving for retirement when you start working, you should do the same for your child’s education when they are born. I signed up for Lesedi’s first education policy when he was a few months old and when he was about 5 years old, I heard about and signed up for Liberty’s Educator Benefit programme, in addition to my first policy. If one is insured with the life-agency, you can adopt a policy that will cover expenses for primary school, high school, and even take your pick of Ivy League universities across the globe. My colleagues will tell you that I’m always going on about this policy. Then there’s the Progressive Educator policy that even affords you monies to pay for textbooks and boarding, not just tuition.


I buy some uniform second hand: Of course I do brand new shoes, shirts and pants, but when it comes to jerseys and PE tops, I’m a friend of the second hand shop. My child loses his jersey every 3 months, so I no longer bother to buy them new at about R400 each. Sorry!



Real cost of education; back to school


This is just how I’ve gone about it though, I’d like to know if you have anything to add, particularly around the costs of education and how you’ve gone about maximising your back to school budget year on year? Please leave me your comments!

Disclaimer: this article was written in collaboration with Liberty; however, I have personally (and in my own capacity) been a Liberty client since the above-mentioned date.

You can find out more about Liberty’s Educator Benefit on, or you can ask your financial adviser as soon as you’re done reading this, they’ll be able to tell you more about it.



Modern Zulu Mom


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  1. Great post! We used to pay school fees up front for the year, till we discovered that our discount was actually only 5% and we could earn more keeping that money in our own investment account and paying monthly.
    Also, shopping around for schools and comparing what they offer versus the costs.
    We recently moved our girls to a new school, they are still in private school but we are now saving R60 000 a year! WINNING!

  2. Amazing post! You know i have even taken my kids to Limpopo to my inlaws because we found a private school for much cheaper than any of the surrounding schools

    1. Oh wow Grace, good on you for maing a huge sacrifice for your family and finding an alternative. I’m sure they’re spoilt and well looked after there.

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