Paying for tertiary education

Donna Willan Money cents

A quick look at Wits University fees for this year show that while fees range widely they are high! First year of an Education Degree is R41,000 through to medical degrees at R68,000 for first year – that is a lot of money that I have to save!

What do I have – I opened a Fundisa account when they were both born, it was a pilot government scheme to assist with tertiary education fees. It started in 2007 and the government matched your contribution 25% (to a maximum) every month, after 3 years they reviewed the scheme and decided to limit it to beneficiaries from households that have an average annual income less then R180,000 a year. I completely support this as it limits the beneficiaries to those who need it the most – however what do I do now, I have been paying every month for 6 years. So I have investigated and I can remove the funds I have contributed, but I cannot remove the subsidy I accrued in the first three years (as I am not using it to pay tertiary fees).

I have decided to withdraw the lump sum, of around R26,000 and invest it in a ETF (Exchange Traded Fund), I will then continue to invest R400 every month. In 11 years time I will be able to offer my children a contribution towards their tertiary education – it certainly won’t be enough to pay for everything but it will at least contribute towards them studying and lessen the financial strain on them. You’ll see I have NOT opted for one of the tailored tertiary education savings schemes that many banks offer – I have been advised that ETF’s offer much better returns

I must add that for anyone earning under R180,000 Fundisa remains a great scheme, you can also take it out for children other than your own who come from families earning less than R180,000 – what  a great gift to a child!

Next column how much did my kids and I spend over the Easter Week end, did we take on Simon’s challenge that a picnic is a great and cheap way to enjoy fun, relaxed time? Or were we reckless and now facing an unhappy credit card?


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