Fee Assistance FAQ
FEE ASSISTANCE AT MOUNT SCOPUS - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Mount Scopus Memorial College has a proud tradition of providing an excellent education to the Jewish community in Melbourne - a tradition that has extended to providing fee assistance to many families who otherwise could not afford to send their children to the College. This assistance is naturally limited by the College’s financial capacity and in order to allocate the available funds as equitably as possible, a formal assessment of the parents’ financial (and personal) circumstances is undertaken on an annual basis.
Determinations on fee assistance are made by the College’s Bursary Committee, who represent the College Executive. The Committee aims to help as many families as equitably as possible, but no two cases are ever exactly the same. The following “Frequently Asked Questions” should therefore be read as a rough guideline of how fee assistance is provided. More importantly, parents are encouraged to make contact with the College’s Bursary Manager, Laurent Schonker, who is happy to take the time to explain the process in more detail and to answer any questions you may have. His role is to liaise with the aforementioned Committee and, as such, he is there to help parents with their application, fully acknowledging and appreciating that asking for fee assistance is never easy.
FEE ASSISTANCE AT MOUNT SCOPUS - WHAT IS AVAILABLE?
- What level or kind of fee assistance is available?
- For what year-levels is fee assistance available?
- Does the College provide long-term fee assistance?
- What role, if any, does my child’s academic/musical/sports/… talents play in determining fee assistance?
- What type of family is eligible for fee assistance?
FEE ASSISTANCE AT MOUNT SCOPUS - HOW TO APPLY
- What information does the College require?
- Who will see this information?
- How does the process work for separated parents?
- How does the process work if I have more children that I want to enrol at the College over time?
- Do I need to repay the College any fee assistance that has been granted?
FEE ASSISTANCE AT MOUNT SCOPUS - WHEN TO APPLY
- Is there a deadline to apply for fee assistance?
- What is the timeline of a fee assistance application?
- How often do I need to re-submit an application and/or supporting documentation?
- What happens if my circumstances suddenly change materially?
Q: What level or kind of fee assistance is available?
A: There are three types of fee assistance that the College can provide:
- Bursaries - not repayable
A bursary means that a percentage of the children’s school fees is not payable at all.
- Fee deferral - repayable at a later date
Fee deferral means that a percentage of the children’s school fees is not payable in the school year to which they apply, but are still repayable at a later stage (typically when the children leave the College).
- Payment arrangements - outside of the normal payment Terms and Conditions.
This can apply when temporary circumstances, which seem likely to be resolved within the calendar year, mean that parents cannot pay their children’s school fees in equal instalments.
The type of fee assistance granted is based on the applicant’s individual circumstances and there are no hard and fast rules. Combinations of the above types of assistance are possible. The Committee takes the view that it is not desirable for parents or for the College, to see parents having to repay a debt to the College for a long time after their children have graduated: our aim is to limit this to 2-3 years. No interest is payable on deferred fees.
The level of fee assistance is determined on a case-by-case basis. With a limited budget, the College cannot afford to grant significant fee assistance to many families (and/or for many years). Whilst no family is precluded from fee assistance, the College tends to prefer granting two families a 25% bursary than one family a 50% bursary.
Q: For what year-levels is fee assistance available?
A: Prep - Yr 12.
Q: Does the College provide long-term fee assistance?
A: Yes. This is reviewed annually and the College is unlikely to significantly change the level of fee assistance from one year to the next if your circumstances have not changed. As with everything else at the College, we see fee assistance as a partnership, where openness and transparency are crucial. We would like to ensure that parents who have their children at the College can keep their children at the College right until graduation.
Q: What role, if any, does my child’s academic/musical/sports/… talents play in determining fee assistance?
A: None whatsoever: the fee assistance process is means-tested only.
Q: What type of family is eligible for fee assistance?
A: We want to help as many families as possible and we recognise that, in many cases, the cost of school fees form a large proportion of a family’s disposable income. We also realise that even families whose income is well above the average of Australian household income, could struggle to pay school fees, especially with several children attending school concurrently. The College’s Bursary Committee acknowledges the high cost of living for Jewish families and the increasing property prices in areas where there are Jewish communities.
Said differently: it is a myth that one needs to be “quite poor” in order to be eligible for fee assistance. We do not expect parents to put their entire life on hold and sacrifice everything so that their children can attend Mount Scopus. That said, when applicable, we could discuss certain expenses and the Bursary Committee is likely to consider annual overseas family holidays, installing a swimming pool, buying a third car or funding gap-year programs for elder children as ‘luxuries’.
The long and the short of it is that no family is precluded from fee assistance. Transparent, upfront and open communication are key in establishing and maintaining the partnership we envisage having with all applicants. If you want your children at Mount Scopus, we will work hard, equitably and compassionately to come to a (mutually) affordable arrangement to achieve this.
Q: What information does the College require?
A: There is an application form that needs to be completed by parents who require fee assistance. The main information provided via this form relates to your income, expenditure, assets and liabilities. This is followed by a meeting with the Bursary Manager and a member of the College’s Bursary Committee to discuss your application.
Q: Who will see this information?
A: In order to ensure maximum anonymity, none of the College’s educational or administrative staff, including principal, teachers and enrolments or members of the College’s lay leadership have access to any names or information.
Information is only accessible to the Bursary Manager and the staff members in Accounts. Members of the Bursary Committee are provided a summary of each application.
Q: How does the process work for separated parents?
A: We recognise that going through a separation has an enormous impact on all family members and that it often takes time before practical and financial matters are in place. Just as no two family circumstances are ever the same, we also acknowledge that no divorce -or any alternative family set-up for that matter- can be treated exactly like any other. All we can promise is that that we treat any applications and all communication even more sensitively and compassionately than those of parents who are together and that, by keeping the children’s best interest at heart, we work even harder to avoid disruptions to the children’s education.
The College’s default position is that, where both parents formally need to consent with regards to their children choice of school, both parents remain jointly and severally liable for school fees. This means that, if fee assistance is required, both parents need to apply - although the information provided by one parent will never be shared by us with the other. Similarly, parents are not required to attend meetings together. The College does not get involved in who pays what (split billing is not available).
Q: How does the process work if I have more children that I want to enrol at the College over time?
A: Our aim is to enable a Mount Scopus education for all children in your family and we encourage you to raise your intentions and concerns early on, even though the actual fee assistance applications are dealt with on a year-by-year basis.
Q: Do I need to repay the College?
A: If a bursary has been granted, this is not repayable.
In cases where fees have been formally deferred (see also under “What level or kind of fee assistance is available?”), a repayment arrangement is discussed at a later stage, depending on the family’s circumstances at that time. No interest is charged on deferred fees. Our current policy is to smooth payments so that the debt to the College is cleared within 2-3 years of the child leaving the school at the latest.
Q: Is there a deadline to apply for fee assistance?
A: No, there are no fixed deadlines.
For new enrolments, it makes sense, from a practical perspective, to commence the process by mid-year preceding the first school year at Mount Scopus.
For students going into Prep, the process should be commenced in Term 2 of Upper Kinder (given that parents are required no less than two full terms’ notice of withdrawal).
Existing fee assistance recipients will automatically be given the opportunity around August/September to re-apply for the following school year.
Q: What is the timeline of a fee assistance application?
A: Once the forms have been completed and returned to the Bursary Manager, a meeting will be scheduled as soon as possible. Typically, a member of the Bursary Committee is available to attend meetings once a week. After the meeting, a decision is made by the Bursary Committee, which convenes every fortnight. This means that, normally, parents would be informed of the fee assistance determination within 3-4 weeks after the meeting.
Q: How often do I need to re-submit an application and/or supporting documentation?
A: We do an annual review of all applicants. If your circumstances have not really changed from one year to the next, you may not be required to attend a meeting every year and the Committee will try and offer your family a similar level of fee assistance in consecutive years.
Q: What happens if my circumstances suddenly change materially?
A: As said, fee assistance is a partnership with the Bursary Committee working very hard to help parents as long as (and to the extent that) they need. The Bursary Manager acts as a liaison between parents and the Committee and it is best to immediately inform him as soon as a material change in your circumstances occurs.
For any other questions or to -formally or informally- discuss your options, please contact the College’s Bursary Manager, Laurent Schonker (t: 03 9834 0027 / e: firstname.lastname@example.org).