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Financial planning to provide differently abled children with special-need education.

The rising cost of providing children with a solid education is taking its toll on South African parents. And the pressure is even greater when children are differently abled and require special-need education.

A shrinking economy, the after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, a higher (and increasing) cost of living and hikes in school fees are leaving parents financially strapped. And, they are increasingly concerned about providing the quality, holistic education they want for their children. Even more so when it comes to children with special needs.

challenges abound

Parents of differently abled children face many challenges when deciding, locating, and securing the best special-need education for their children.

Additional expenses, such as assistive devices, transportation, healthcare, transportation and personal assistance, on top of rising school fees are some of the extra hurdles parents of special-need children have to jump to give their child the best education.

“This means that many South African parents simply cannot afford to give their children the best education,” says Kresantha Pillay, Liberty’s chief specialist for Lifestyle Protector.

the financial burden is heavy

Some parents have had to provide care and education to their children at home. The financial burden is exacerbated as most special schools are still not listed in the government’s  annual “no-fee” schools lists. In 2019, Human Rights Watch found that, for the first time, the Gauteng province listed five special schools as “no-fee” out of 128 special schools in the entire province. This leaves the financial costs for private special needs schooling squarely on the parents’ shoulders.

there is hope

However, by planning ahead, none of these obstacles are insurmountable.

Start by setting out a financial plan. While it is important for all parents to develop a financial plan, there are many factors to consider with regard to special-needs education. Then invest in a policy that covers the life of the parent/s.

seek advice, find the best

Engage a financial adviser to scope out and prepare for the total cost of educating your child based on their unique circumstances. “Thankfully, there are several options out there to help relieve financial strain, protect the children’s education and secure their future,” says Pillay.

“Guardians and parents should investigate policy offerings carefully. Consider taking out one that will cover the ongoing costs of special-need education at an improved institution should the policyholder die or become disabled.

“Find an inflation-linked policy that covers the school fees and increases benefit limits accordingly. Some policies allow you to add-on supplementary benefits to cover additional expenses such as uniforms, devices, therapy and even transportation,” says Pillay.

“Ideally, parents should take out a policy that has no waiting period, covers education inflation costs, offers flexibility in terms of private or public schooling, and caters for overseas studies too.”

This way, parents can safeguard their children’s special-need education and secure their future.