The cost of education has steadily risen in Kenya over the years. With education costs on the rise, parents are struggling to meet the cost of school expenses and basic education.

Apart from tuition fees, parents also have to contend with other costs such as books, extra reading materials, uniforms, transportation, exam fees, boarding fees etc. All these expenses cut a huge chunk from the family budget and need to be considered when managing finances.

Parents need to be savvy in how they tackle the cost of preparing children to go back to school. Here are some tips on how education costs can be mitigated.

1.Have a savings strategy

It’s never too early to start saving for your child’s education. Once you get children, it is best to get into the habit of putting money aside every month geared towards the education cost. Bonus points if you automate the process by setting up a standing order.

2. Invest the money saved

Instead of parking the money you are saving in a savings account, take advantage of the power of compounding and invest the money in a Money Market Fund. There it earns a bigger interest and it is easily accessible.

3. Cut your coat according to your cloth

 It is tempting to take your child to high end schools or schools that are popular, but it is wiser to seek out quality schools that are affordable to ensure a seamless education for your child.

4. Reduce frills

Opting for a school that is near your home means that you can save on school transport costs. Your child can also carry lunch to eliminate the need for school provided lunch. These savings can be used to meet another cost.

5. Negotiate a payment plan

Since time immemorial parents have entered into arrangements with schools on how to schedule fees payment. This can be a tool to align fees payment with individual cash flow. You can also prioritize what to buy by thinking about what they will need immediately and what you can buy later. That way you can spread the expenses and not bear all the burden at once.

6. Have options for bridge financing

If things are tight getting short term financing from friends, banks, SACCOs, etc can help you navigate the immediate need for cash.. 

7. Buy second-hand items

While it may be hard to do this as schools now insist that parents buy uniforms from particular shops, it is advisable to see where one can cut costs by buying items second hand or even from fellow parents whose children have outgrown their uniform. Asking other parents for tips can also provide insights into where to get good deals.

8. Seek out scholarships and bursaries

Ensure you enquire about available bursaries and scholarships. National and county governments do offer these to deserving students plus there are Kenyan corporates who also do this. So, if your child is a high achiever in sports or academically, they can qualify for a scholarship or bursary and that can help offset their education costs.

9. Start them early

Involving children in drawing up the back-to-school shopping budget will help to give them an appreciation of how much it costs, and it may deter them from asking for everything they see when you go shopping. By taking children shopping with you, they will learn how much things cost and potentially will take better care of their school supplies and uniforms. Children can also earn their pocket money during holidays.

10. Explore education plans

With the help of a financial advisor, a parent can start planning for tertiary education which the child will need at 18, it is a long-term strategy and the power of compounding can again be maximised.

Education is important and it is also one of the biggest expenses for those with children and therefore it should be planned for deliberately and cleverly to avoid it being an even bigger source of stress in households.