Some private schools offering financial relief to parents in tough COVID-19 times

Parents of students attending some private schools will receive some financial relief in these tough economic times, with thousands of people out of work due to COVID-19. The financial relief, in most instances on unpaid third term tuition, has been capped at 20 percent.

Some schools have gone the “extra mile” and offered the discount to parents who paid third term tuition in full prior to schools closing their doors to in-classroom learning two months ago, just as the third term got underway.

For most private institutions, third term fees were due at the beginning of March. The Bahamas confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on March 15.

The Catholic Board of Education, Kingsway Academy and Queen’s College officials said they will alleviate the financial burden on parents by offering discounts on third term tuition fees for parents that are unable to meet their financial obligations.

Catholic Board of Education

Claudette Rolle, director of Catholic education – encompassing Aquinas College, Sts. Francis & Joseph School, St. Cecilia’s School, St. Thomas More and Xavier’s Lower School, said the board is offering up to 20 percent discounts on third-term tuition fees for parents faced with financial constraints.

“In consideration of the changes students have had to adapt to with respect to learning, and bearing in mind the difficult financial circumstances being currently experienced by many in the country, the Catholic Board of Education (CBE) strongly empathizes with the community and seeks to alleviate some of the financial burden,” said Rolle in a written communication to parents and guardians of CBE students.

For students whose tuition has already been paid for the third term, the board said it will apply a 20 percent discount against the fall term fees.

Parents who have not yet paid tuition for the third term, will receive a 20 percent discount provided tuition fees are paid in full by May 31.

Parents who have not yet paid tuition for the third term, and who may also have other tuition arrears, but cannot complete payments by May 31, are being offered a 10 percent discount. Additionally, a payment plan has been made available to allow for the completion of outstanding payments due for the 2020/2021 school year to be repaid by April 30, 2021.

CBE schools’ tuition ranges between $2,979 and $4,575.

Queen’s College

In a communication to parents, Queen’s College (QC) officials said they gave consideration to the economic and social challenges that parents are experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. And implemented several provisions to students’ tuition accounts.

Parents/guardians who presently have official payment plans to pay outstanding fees by July 31, will have their payment arrangements extended to August 31. Parents who do not have an official plan with the school and wish to apply for a payment plan must send an email to Accounts that meet the criteria for financial hardship – unemployment, reduced income, or other approved criteria, officials said, will qualify. School officials said all other accounts that have outstanding balances and do not have an official payment plan for the school are required to become current.

QC officials reminded parents in the letter that per the school’s policy, report cards, transcripts and graduation diplomas are withheld for all accounts that have

outstanding balances. And that report cards will be issued at the end of June 2020.

In its financial alleviation plan, the school said the $100 late fee previously applied to Term 3 balances will be credited to the 2020/2021 term one statements for all returning students in September 2020.

A tuition credit of $200 will be applied to the accounts for all Phase 1 to Grade 11 students returning in September 2020.

“The fees billed for the upcoming term one will include the respective credit, and will not be paid as a cash refund, applied towards purchases in the Galaxy store, or applied to any other payment due to the school. All accounts for students graduating in June 2020 will receive a $200 credit towards Term 3 fees. Accounts that are eligible to be paid a refund after the $200 credit is applied will be processed by September 30, 2020,” said the letter.

A tuition discount, they said, will be applied if tuition for the 2020/2021 school year is paid by August 31, 2020. A five percent discount will be applied to the family accounts of parents who have three or more biological children enrolled at QC.

For the next school year, a nine-month payment plan will be made available to parents/guardians who qualify.

Queen’s College’s tuition ranges between $3,000 to $5,700 depending on the grade of the child.

Kingsway Academy

Kingsway Academy school’s committee of management in letters to parents offered a “promotional package” for the payment of outstanding term three tuition fees for parents who may be financially challenged at this time. The package does not include technology and security fees.

The alternatives to parents for payment of the third term’s tuition fees for the 2019/2020 school year, included an allowance for the term’s fees to be paid in 12 equal installments if parents started May 1 through April 1.

If term fees are paid in full by June 30, parents will receive a 20 percent discount. If term three fees are paid in full by August 30, parents will receive a 15 percent discount.

In a second letter to parents, Kingsway Academy’s committee of management extended a 20 percent discount to parents and guardians who had paid third term fees in full on or before April 30. The discount is to be applied towards the first term school fees for the reopening of school in September 2020.

“This discount is not a cash refund; it is not transferable, and will only apply if the student is returning to Kingsway Academy for the new school year. Further, the discount will not apply to any other fees payable and will be offset towards school fees only,” said the letter.

Anglican Diocese

The Anglican Diocese was unable to give an update on what financial relief would be given to parents, but said they are working on it. Schools falling under the Anglican Diocese purview include St. Anne’s School, St. John’s College, Bishop Michael Eldon School on Grand Bahama and St. Andrew’s Anglican School on Exuma, the smallest of all the Anglican schools with 130 students.

Education moved beyond the four walls of the classroom to online learning as The Bahamas and the world battled to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

With no idea when their children will return to the physical classroom setting, many parents of private sector-educated children have been questioning whether they still owed third term tuition to institutions, or if they would offer a discount, considering schools were shut just as the third semester got underway.

The Bahamas had 96 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths, 41 recovered cases, seven hospitalized cases, 44 active cases and had completed 1,700 tests up to yesterday.

Worldwide, there were 4,408,618 confirmed cases and 300,315 deaths.

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Shavaughn Moss

Shavaughn Moss joined The Nassau Guardian as a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor. Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics. Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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