If you're an expatriate in the UAE, chances are you're experience paid for private education for the first time. If that is the case, then along with finding the right school for your children, financing will be one your primary concerns. Here we've compiled a set of frequently asked questions on financing for fees in the UAE.
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Do UAE schools offer financial help to students in terms of grants, bursaries, scholarships? Is this a rarity, or common?
This is a good question to which the answer is generally no. There is no tradition or culture of this in the UAE as can be seen in private schools in one’s home country.
How can I find out which schools offer this - if there are any?
Based on the last comment, you will need to conduct an Internet search and then further research the websites of the schools that you are interested in. If you have a child who is gifted and/or talented there would be nothing wrong with asking a school whether they would offer a scholarship or some form of support with the fees.
If I were to have financial difficulties while sending my children to a UAE school, is it as simple as if I can't pay, they can't come in, or are schools more forgiving than that?
All private schools must operate as a business whether they are not-for-profit or for-profit ones otherwise they will cease to exist. By extension, schools cannot afford to have non-paying students and will have a clear policy about payment of fees. Schools have large upfront expenses at the beginning of the year and at set times during the year which require fee payments to be prompt and at the beginning of a term or semester.
Should you be experiencing difficulties in paying the fees, the first thing to do is make an appointment to see the appropriate person in the school to discuss the matter. It may be that the school can support you through a challenging financial period with a payment plan. Do not stick your head in the sand on this, as it can only lead to you receiving a series of letters and demands that can add stress to your situation and ultimately to the exclusion of your child.
I want to send my children to the best school I can afford. My company does not provide help with school fees, are there banks in the UAE that will help me with loans, etc? Are there preferential terms for things like this?
It is a common characteristic in the UAE nowadays that more and more parents are either paying or subsidising the school fees. This can create real challenges and, in some cases, the schools may consider a payment plan.
In answer to whether the banks will offer loans toward school fees, this will be more about your credit history with the bank than actual policy within the bank. Regarding preferential loan rates, I suspect, not with the rate relating more to how the loan is secured and the repayment period. Islamic banks may have a different approach to this which is worth exploring.
If you have several children attending the same school, it may be worth asking the school whether it has a fees policy that allows a reduction for a certain number of siblings and/or, for example, the fourth child or so.
The old English adage of: if you don’t ask, you don’t get comes to mind here!
I want to start a saving scheme for my children's education, are there banks in the UAE that have such schemes?
Most banks would consider financial planning of this nature, as too, financial advisers who can point you in the direction of relevant investment products. For understandable reasons, we do not, however, recommend or endorse any particular financial product or financial advisor.