Middle Class Tuition Fee Woes During Pandemic

Middle Class Tuition Fee Woes During Pandemic

Ma. Luisa "Louie" P. Sebastianhttp://contributor
Ma. Luisa “Louie” Sebastian is Senior Adviser for Strategic Communications of Page One Group News/Media. She loves to write, dance, and watch movies. She is currently Vice President-Internal of the Public Relations Society of the Philippines.

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Notifications in my group chat with the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) kept popping in the past two weeks. For the first time, I am an active participant in PTA discussions, one of my silver linings in this quarantine. Being a full-time working mother since I got married, I never had a chance to engage in any PTA activity although I have always wanted to.

Tuition fees of our incoming sons in senior high school was the topic of our long talks.

Tuition and Miscellaneous

With online learning sessions instead of face-to-face classroom interaction, we went through each expense item in the tuition fee assessment schedule.

The actual tuition fees did not increase from last year. However, costs of the shift to a new learning management system for online sessions were added. Online registration to Microsoft Teams, online library resource, and online platform fees were new expense items this year. But other miscellaneous expenses such educational trip, athletic fee, water and electricity, retreat/recollection costs, among others were cut. About P22,000 was reduced from last year’s total school fees.

I asked my friends whose kids are studying in private schools if they also reduced school fees. Others did not but some did. This is good news for middle class families with kids in private high schools. I would assume that this is the same situation in primary schools.

But parents who have college students seem to be in a different situation. My eldest is also in a private university but his enrolment is still in August so I have no idea if his school will be as considerate as his younger brother’s.

Early this week, a saw a Facebook post of a mother asking the Registrar of the university to clarify her son’s school fees which included laboratory fees, NSTP/ROTC fees, medical/dental costs, library and registration fees. Since his son is below 21 and not allowed to go out, she asked the registrar why these costs are included in her son’s school fees. The Commission on Higher Education was copied in the letter which is now being shared on social media.

Mode of payment

Another topic of my PTA discussion was to appeal to the school management to consider accepting credit card payments. I could not butt in on the conversation but I wanted to remind them that credit card interest rates are very steep and they might find themselves paying double for the tuition fees.

The PTA also wanted to request management to allow installment of outstanding payments from last school year. In the past, a pre-requisite to enrolment was to pay all outstanding obligations. The conversation was too long that I was not able to track the management decision on these requests.

As middle class parents, we will do everything to keep our children in private school. In this pandemic. We are not embarrassed to ask for considerations when it comes to the welfare of our kids.

Budget adjustments

Many middle class families are now in a quandary on how to finance the online school requirements. An additional laptop would set us back anywhere from P20,000 to P25,000 per unit. You have to buy two more if you have three kids. Usually, our kids share one laptop or borrow mine for school assignments. Buying two laptops during this crisis is a huge dent on the pocket. One of my co-parents who has three kids asked if she could buy old laptops from our sons’ school since these will not be used anyway.

We also have to pay more for high-speed internet which, at 30mbps, is at P1,900 per month. Electricity cost will definitely shoot up. Teens eat every 2-3 hours so the pantry has to be always stacked.

Under this new normal, the only expense item I deleted was for gasoline when my father brings him to school every morning. I already taught him how to commute from school so he rides the public transport with his friends when they go home.

Tough times ahead

It is sad to note that I could sense the hardships of many of the parents in the chat. I know for a fact that many of my co-parents depend on their spouses who are either seafarers or land-based OFWs. Others are businessmen who are most likely affected by this crisis. But our sons are on their last year in senior high school so transferring to another school is out of the question.

We will make it work. This is our mantra as middle class families when it comes to education. We will sacrifice other things such as travel and other leisure activities or even sell or pawn our jewelries. You will probably see many of us selling items online.
Middle class families are known to be creative, resilient and focused. We will survive this pandemic.

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