The global financial downturn is affecting Australians’ feelings of preparedness to cope with the costs of their children’s education according to a survey commissioned by the Australian Scholarships Group (ASG). The survey reveals that parents still consider education a top priority for their children, however they are bracing to endure the short-term pain of lifestyle changes rather than opting for the longer-term strategy of saving for education. More parents are willing to go without luxuries, cut back on everyday expenses and go without a holiday to afford their children’s education.

Ms Michelle Hunder, ASG’s General Manager -- Development,
said the survey indicates that although Australians
continue to rank education as important, nearly half the
respondents with a child or grandchild under 10 years
do not feel prepared to meet the costs of educating their
children (significantly more than previously reported), and
only 35 per cent have a financial arrangement in place to
save for education. “Education continues to rank as one
of life’s major priorities, but we still haven’t got the message
through to parents and grandparents that it requires
planning to meet the costs irrespective of whether people
choose government or independent schooling options,”
Michelle concluded. Over the past 15 years education
costs have risen substantially. Information from the
Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that the education
fees component of the Consumer Price Index has been
rising at almost double the rate of inflation. “Particularly
in tougher times, people realise the importance of education.
Parents will try to ensure education doesn’t suffer.
Families are telling us they will make cuts elsewhere in
order to continue meeting education costs for their children,”
Michelle said. ASG’s survey (conducted through
Nexus Research and allowing participants to select
multiple responses -- see the survey report for full details)
has shown more Australians are willing to suffer the pain
of lifestyle changes than was reported in the previous
survey:
-Going without luxuries -- 49 per cent -- up five per cent
-Cutting back on everyday expenses -- 45 per cent -- up
10 per cent
-A weekly savings plan -- 42 per cent -- up three per cent
-Going without a holiday -- 41 per cent -- up seven per
cent
-Take on extra work -- 33 per cent -- up seven per cent
-Return to the workforce -- 31 per cent -- up five per cent
-Take out a loan -- 16 per cent -- up five per cent
-Move house -- 15 per cent -- up three per cent
-ASG is receiving more enquiries from Australians wanting
to turn to a disciplined education planning solution like
ASG’s Education Program because increasingly people
recognise they have more of a spending disposition than
a saving disposition,” Michelle said. “Of course this is not
a new trend. Nationally personal debt continues to spiral,
but one reason ASG’s members value its Education Program
is because it provides them with a discipline they
might not otherwise have without a framework.”
The survey results come in the midst of forecasts that
education costs for 2009 continue to rise. ASG estimates
that parents will pay the following amounts this year:
*Preschool: Government - $2,779; Systemic (Catholic) -
$4,520; Private - $7,195 per annum.
*Primary: Government - $5,536; Systemic (Catholic) -
$7,442; Private - $13,130 per annum.
*Secondary: Government - $5,938; Systemic (Catholic) -
$12,144; Private - $22,436 per annum.
(Further details can be found at ASG’s website: www.
asg.com.au - look in the Resources section in Education
Costs.)
Michelle Hunder says ASG has two important messages
for parents from the survey: first, begin saving for education
as early as possible and second, when choosing
schooling options look for schooling choices that offer
value and ensure that the school meets their child’s
needs and their own education preferences.
For those parents struggling with the payments of independent
school fees, ASG offers a payment plan solution
through its School Plan program.

Further information can
be found at: www.schoolplan.com.au or by calling 1800
337 419. Above all, ASG recommends that parents and grandparents
plan for the future costs of their children’s and
grandchildren’s education. A number of planning tools
and tips can be found at ASG’s website -- www.asg.com.
au or by calling 1800 648 945.
Further details about the research can be found in
the survey report on ASG’s website: www.asg.com.
au in the Resources section -- Research and Publications
-- Survey Report: Families Prepared To Go
Without To Educate.