Fee Assistance FAQs
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 the sensitivity of each application and the right to dignity.
Fee Assistance FAQs
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 offered as a discount and 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.
Prep to Year 12.
Assistance is not offered by the College for Kinder or Little Learners as the government offers the Child Care Subsidy for eligible families.
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.
None whatsoever: the fee assistance process is means-tested only.
However students in Years 7 to 12 may also audition for a music scholarship which offsets the cost of instrumental / vocal lessons at the College. See the Scholarships page for further information.
We want to help as many Jewish students as possible benefit from an immersive Jewish education at Scopus 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.
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.
In order to ensure maximum anonymity, none of the College’s educational or administrative staff, including principal, teachers and enrolments, have access to the information provided. Unless the assistance is granted as a specific scholarship such as the Ruben Fried Scholarship, which is not solely mean-tested, not even the applicants' names are accessible.
For the purpose of properly assessing the applications and to ensure proper registration in the College's financial administration, the information provided is accessible by the Bursary Manager, the Credit Department and members of the Bursary Committee, although the latter would typically receive a non-anonymised summary of each application.
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 very sensitively and compassionately and that, by keeping the children’s best interest at heart, we work even harder to avoid disruptions to the stability of the children’s education and social setting.
The College’s default position is that, where both parents formally need to consent with regards to their children's choice of school, that is, legally have shared parental responsibility, 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).
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.
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 two to three years of the child leaving the school at the latest.
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 which you wish to enrol, noting that applications can also be submitted for mid-year entry.
You will need to allow sufficient time for your application to be processed and a determination made prior to the date that you wish your child to commence.
For students going into Prep, the process should be commenced in Term 2 of Upper Kinder (given that parents are required to provide 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.
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 three to four weeks after the meeting.
In total the process might take anywhere from four to six weeks during the school year.
With regard to new enrolments, parents will need to choose whether their child undertakes a trial visit at the College before or after they go through the fee assistance application process. This and other aspects of the enrolment process will also need to be taken into account with regard to the timeline.
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.
As noted earlier, 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.
Q: What does the FAB do?
The FAB will, independently, assess parents who wish to enrol their child(ren), currently attending a government school, in a Jewish school but who cannot afford to pay the full fees. The FAB assessment is based on a quantitative model and does not require applicants to provide any non-financial information or to attend a meeting.
Q: How will it work if I apply for fee assistance via the FAB?
The FAB will only assess applicants for children in the advertised year levels. Families select their preferred school and submit their application. The FAB initially liaises with the College with regard to all applications once the fee discount has been determined with anonymised information. Once the enquiry proceeds to the enrolment process then obviously the family details will be provided to the College's Enrolments and Finance Departments.
Q: What are my options in terms of which route I take to apply for fee assistance?
Parents with children eligible for either route, i.e. via the FAB or directly with Mount Scopus, must make the choice of route before they apply. Once an application has been received via one route, the applicant is no longer eligible for an assessment via the other for entry in the same academic year.
Q: How do I decide which route to take if I am eligible for a FAB assessment?
There is no clear answer to that question. The FAB model has been developed in close consultation with all participating schools and, in many test cases, we have found the outcomes from the FAB process is very similar to that from the College’s own assessment. Whilst the FAB process has a clear quantitative approach, which may be more appropriate (and preferred) for some applicants, others may prefer to have the opportunity to discuss their family's circumstances, which the College can take into account when making the fee assessment determination, but which the FAB does not. The choice is yours and one cannot predict which route will result in your preferred outcome.
For any other questions or to -formally or informally- discuss your options, please contact the College’s Bursary Manager, Laurent Schonker on 9834 0027 or via email.