St. Augustine’s College (SAC) and Temple Christian School (TCS) have officially offered tuition discount relief to parents who may find themselves financially challenged during the COVID-19 pandemic with thousands of people unemployed. As with other private institutions, the maximum discount offered to parents unable to meet their financial obligation is capped at 20 percent.
Schools are trying to strike a balance between offering assistance to parents and keeping schools afloat as they say their primary source of income is tuition.
Some schools have also offered the discount to parents who have paid third- term tuition in full prior to schools closing their doors to in-classroom learning on March 16, as the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in The Bahamas just as the academic third term got underway
St. Augustine’s College (SAC)
For accounts paid in full, SAC’s board of directors gave the approval for discounts to be applied to term one for the 2020/2021 school year. Accounts that have already received family discounts, receive a further 10 percent discount on the March 1 billing if paid in full by June 4.
Student accounts that received five percent discount for full payment in August, receive a further 15 percent on the March 1 invoice only.
For student accounts that have already paid the March 1 invoice, a 20 percent discount will be offered on the invoice, according to the letter to parents.
Student accounts where the March 1 invoice is not yet paid, a 20 percent discount it says will be applied in full by June 4.
For students with arrears on previous terms and the account cannot be paid in full by June 4, they are offering a 10 percent discount on the March 1 invoice.
A payment plan is also available for outstanding payments plus the tuition for the 2020/2021 school year. Payments must be completed by May 1, 2021.
In the letter dated May 19, signed by principal Sonja Knowles, parents were reminded that the school is a not-for-profit institution, and its primary source of income is tuition.
Temple Christian School (TCS)
In a letter dated May 20, to parents signed by TCS administrator Samuel Rutherford, it says that the school has given parents a tuition credit of 15 percent to be applied to accounts of students from K3 through Grade 11, in recognition of students not physically in school.
The discount is available to parents who have not yet paid until June 4.
Fees already paid for the third semester will receive a credit on term-one tuition. The credit is only available to returning students and parents not currently employed with the school or church.
TCS says the tuition credit is non-transferable and will not be refunded as cash.
Where a student has graduated, they say a refund will be made Friday, October 2.
With their tuition discounts, SAC and TCS have joined fellow private institutions – Kingsway Academy, Queen’s College, and Catholic Board of Education schools: Aquinas College, Sts. Francis & Joseph School, St. Cecilia’s School, St. Thomas More and Xavier’s Lower School – in offering discounts to parents faced with financial constraints.
Catholic Board of Education Schools (CBE)
For CBE schools, students whose tuition has already been paid for the third term, the board 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.
Queen’s College (QC) 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 email@example.com; accounts that meet the criteria for financial hardship – unemployment, reduced income, or other approved criteria, (QC) 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.
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 1 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.
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.
A tuition discount, they said, will be applied if tuition for the 2020/2021 school year is paid by August 31. 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.
Kingsway Academy’s 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, 2021.
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.
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.
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.
Education moved outside 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 students questioned whether they still owed third term tuition to schools, or if they would offer a discount, considering schools were shut just as the semester got underway.
The Bahamas has 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 11 deaths, 45 recovered cases, six hospitalized cases, and 44 active cases; 1,955 tests have been completed.
According to the Ministry of Health, there are 5,267,452 confirmed cases and 339,949 deaths worldwide.