As an erstwhile Banker, the topic is lucrative enough for me to get distracted and start writing on the need for diversification of funds, tenure of and right time for investment. But a glance at the fee-book of the school where the boy’s future has finally been sealed brings me back to reality. We will have to make a visit to collect books (you read that right) from his school tomorrow and like any other cautious parent, I am keeping the documents ready just in case they decide to recheck if we have actually paid the money!. In my husband’s words, they might ask for proof of existing investment in education before deciding on a further amount of investment for education to begin.
Until recently, we were a dual-earning family with major areas of expenditure covering luxury travel, books, movies, and gastronomic adventures at multiple restaurants. Then Tuneer happened. Expenses were channelized towards diapers, baby clothes, baby carrier, perambulator, walker and so on. Next, I decided to follow my passion and ventured into a profession famous for not having a financial prospect (that too, at my age when most of my counterparts have been promoted to the level of AVPs in Banks). It didn’t bother much though. Primarily because Sr. T is usually supportive of my decisions (those that are not related to the child) and I was making some money for my own survival (since my idea of survival is about eating Momos for lunch and dinner).
But we came face to face with the expenses related to education when Tuneer started his preschool last year. Of course, a metro city meant that the expenditures were meant to be high but the one-time admission plus quarterly fee exceeded all our expectations. Well, it was just the beginning of our long-term investments in this field. Once the school admission brochures were handed over, we realized that the new age schools had taken the concept of development a tad too seriously by quoting an exorbitant amount in the name of development fee.
For nursery admissions, the total cost went beyond a lakh in a couple of schools. This was just the tuition fee, annual fee and admission fee along with the fancy development fee which multiplied as per the whims of the school. Of course, there were other expenses like transport, uniform, and books as topping on the cake. In return, some of them had the sleek tag of ‘international’ in the name of the school and an infrastructure setting that could put any corporate office to shame. Like one of Tuneer’s classmates’ mother said, “These schools have facilities that can keep a child busy the whole day while they acquire a new skill in the form of swimming or martial arts. That leaves the parents enough time for other activities. So, if I have money, I don’t see any reason not to enroll my son there.” She echoes the bitter truth in many a case when parents don’t have enough time to invest in their child.
Both St. T and I have quite unique thoughts with regards to education expenses. I consider this investment akin to a medical insurance policy where we keep paying the premium every year hoping that we don’t need to encash on its benefits (I have decided to be that zen parent with nil expectations from her progeny or so I claim!). My only concern is the affordability of the premium for the next two decades. As per Sr. T, this investment is more like a housing loan where we keep paying the money (like EMI) to the school (like the Bank) by taking money from our salary (as Bank loan) with the hope that someday we will get to see the house built and furnished. And then he looks at me with a wide grin and asks, “Considering your intention of getting back to studies again, I feel that my father-in-law is on a life-long installment mode for a house repair loan.”
Fact is that education has started resembling the format of a business more than the essence of learning. And those who can’t invest are left with a raw deal or no deal. One of the essential criteria in our final choice of Tuneer’s school was also its fee structure that spelled middle class, not the urban elite class. As parents, we only hope that schools also have resources with the intent to invest in the well-being and development of the child similar to our investment in the form of time, efforts and money.
Hope you had a good time reading this because I had a blast correlating finance with admission today. I will return tomorrow with a new and funny post on ‘J’. Until then, you might want to check out my previous posts in this series here.