Thursday, 10 July 2014

From first words to thinking about planning for school

Having kids is an awesome responsibility, in the best and the scariest ways. Sunny has started his first real words… ‘mum’ of course, and ‘banana’ (or ‘nana’) for bananas or any kind of food really!  As his vocab increases I see that little brain just ticking over all the time, absorbing so much around him that it totally spins me out. Right now he’s learning from his family, but in few years he’ll be in preschool like Pia.

My beautiful little babies are growing up so quickly.  Soon they’ll both be in primary school, then high school, and then who knows what kind of post secondary education they might choose? In the next few years we are going to have to start making a whole lot of decisions as parents on schools, extra curricular activities, and how we are going to pay for it all.

When you are feeling overwhelmed, sometimes it helps to get some advice from the experts, so I sat down with An ASG Representative from the Australian Scholarship Group (ASG) to get the buzz direct on how to best plan, for our kids education.

1.    Pia is three and Sunny is barely one year old, am I getting way too much ahead of myself here thinking about things like high school and Uni?

No, right now is the perfect time. When you add it up, the money you spend on your kids’ education is likely to be one of your family’s biggest expenses. Planning early will help with the education choices you make along the way, from the ones you make in regards to high school to whatever they might choose for higher education.

Also keep in mind that the proposed Federal budget changes will have an impact, putting even more pressure on the family budget and make planning for future life events, such as education, even more important. The change in government direction means that parents should get in now to maximize the benefits.

2.    So what kind of education costs am I looking at?

That’s a good question. Too often parents just look at school fees but it pays to remember you’ve also got to budget for transport, uniforms, computers, school excursions and sporting trips to really determine the true cost of education.

ASG have an education cost calculator on their website which parents find helpful as it breaks down those estimated costs for pre-school, primary, secondary and university education with different public, systemic and private school options to choose from in each state.

3.    Okay I get that your goal at ASG is to help families plan for their children’s education but, in simple terms, how does this actually work?

You make contributions to your nominated fund over a period of time. Your contributions are invested with professional fund managers with the aim of achieving steady capital growth. Investment returns are added back annually, so your overall balance grows steadily over time.

When the nominated time comes you receive your account balance back in the form of two distinct benefits.
·      First the contribution you’ve made will be paid back to you as a tax-free return of your capital (your Members Benefit).
·      Second your investment returns will be paid back either directly to you (Maturity Benefit), or directly to your child (Scholarship Benefit), depending on your fund and benefit election. Certain tax advantages apply to the payment of these benefits.

4.    How does what you offer compare to a regular saving plan?

While most parents have the best of intentions when it comes to saving for their kid’s education, since this is such a long-term goal, it’s all too easy to draw from that money that has been set aside for other family expenses, anything from monthly bills to holidays and even house deposits! ASG’s more disciplined approach ensures that, when the time comes, you have the funds available to help offset the costs of education.

And now is the time to join because of all the other non-financial benefits Members will recieve. As part of the new, more holistic approach by ASG, we’re working to partner with parents to help their child reach their full potential. This means parents are going to get more help and guidance than ever before through extra content, resources and services all around education.

5.    What should I do next?

The good news is you’ve already started. Education is likely to become more expensive, and even more important as an asset to your kids. The key to success is planning early, even before pre-school. Now is the perfect time to start looking into your family’s potential education expenses and plan for them financially, as well as socially and emotionally.

Australian Scholarships Group (ASG) is a not-for-profit organisation and specialist education benefits provider.  ASG has supported over 509,000 children and their families to offset the cost of education.  But now ASG is moving towards offering more than just education funds. They’re creating an ever-expanding suite of resources, online tools and guides to support parents and nurture children in their educational journey so they can reach their full potential. Visit to discover member benefits or call 1800 648 945.More articles regarding education issues, development, family members and parenting are available on

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