We are in the last week of September. If you are a parent of young children who are still in nursery, primary or secondary school and you made it here without the stress and hypertension of September, congratulations. Even grandparents suffer in September, sometimes having to shell out something to help out with their grandchildren’s school fees.
Everywhere, the month of September is known for many things and most of them are not positive. This is why it is so common to experience ‘September anxiety’.
If you have ever felt your mood change depending on the season, you will know that the time of year can have a huge impact on how you are feeling. Anxiety is known to worsen during different months, while conditions like seasonal affective disorder can induce serious depressive episodes.
Most of us associate September with going back to school.
Once the fun of the children’s holiday is over, the thought of shelling out huge amounts of money in school fees and school bills brings pressures and is a major source of anxiety.
Even though all parents are aware their children will go back to school in September, the period still brings a sense of trepidation and unsettlement in families, sometimes resulting in frayed nerves and snap retorts to questions by spouses.
Up till the early 1970s, the school year was a calendar system, beginning in January and ending in December. January was therefore a double ‘Wahala’ month for salary earning parents, who after the spending on Christmas and New Year festivities, still had to contend with school fees beginning of the year. But now, while September is not the start of the calendar year, it is the beginning of the school year at practically all levels and parents who have several children of school age tend to feel the pinch of the tough period this time of the year than at any other time.
School proprietors will be quick to tell you that education is not cheap anywhere and if you need cheap education, try the public school system. But in a situation where the public education system has been completely degraded, almost all parents who want the best for their children and wards have no alternative but to go the private school route.
The current economic situation in the country has further made the ability to pay school fees more difficult for parents. The times have also taught us that these are not the days for couples to bring more children into the world than they can cater for. It is fast becoming a thing of the past to see families with 6 or 8 children. Even 4 is a stretch!
Thankfully, some school owners and administrators are said to have been more sensitive to the plight of their patrons these days by providing flexible payment terms where possible so that the pressures can be less on families, especially those with more than one student in a particular school.
There has also been the option of taking loans or insurance products for the education of children. Many banks have been very inventive with school fees products this year and they have tried to attract customers with advertising that has wooed them to patronize bank products targeted at paying school fees for children.
For instance, Ecobank Nigeria announced special loan packages for parents and guardians to enable them pay school fees for their children and wards ahead of resumption for the 2021/2022 school year. Also, the bank made special infrastructure loans available to educational institutions to help equip such schools adequately for the new session. The ‘Back to School’ initiative is said to be in line with the bank’s overall strategy to support the development of the nation’s education sector by reducing the financial burden on parents, students and schools, and also facilitating the ease of payment of fees without stress.
On its own, Access Bank introduced ‘Advance for School Fees’ scheme which is designed to provide parents/guardians with short–term financing to cover tuition fees for their children/wards. It is also ideal for financing of undergraduate and postgraduate study and for professional examinations. The scheme spread repayment over a period of 4 to 6 months, with interest rate @ 18% p.a.
GT Bank has its ‘School Fees Advance’ which is also a loan facility designed to finance the payment of children’s school fees for schools/institutions in Nigeria only. This facility is available to members of staff of public and reputable private organizations whose salaries are domiciled with the Bank. It covers up to N5 Million for school fees with a maximum tenor of 4 months per request and there is immediate access to funds for the prompt payment of the child/ward’s school fees.
WEMA Bank also has its own version of ‘School Fees Advance’ for financing school fees for schools/institutions in Nigeria and diaspora. This facility is available to salaried and self-employed individuals. The Minimum Facility Amount is N50,000.00 while the Maximum Facility Amount is N10,000,000, with maximum tenor of 3 months (For Nursery/Primary/Secondary schools) and Maximum tenor of 12 months (for tertiary institutions) per request. The School/Tuition fee is paid directly to the child/ward’s school.
FCMB introduced its ‘Get Them Back To School With No Hassles’ scheme that can be used in and outside Nigeria to buy new uniforms, books and other supplies, pay school fees and prepare the child or ward for resumption. Customers can also access foreign currency for PTA /school fees remittance.
Fidelity Bank’s ‘Back2School’ credit scheme provides credit cards with a zero card issuance charge and customers can get 10% of their gross annual salary to use in Back-to-School expenses at home or abroad, with a promise of easy visa application process.
Zenith Bank’s ZECA – Zenith Children’s Account – offers Back To School features that makes it easy and convenient to pay school fees as well as gives education loans to finance the children’s education needs.
As September ends, it is hoped that school fees stress should be over, at least for the brief period, so that those who took these loans can start recouping to pay back before the yuletide. Bye-Bye to the school fees stress of September.
Epa Ogie Eboigbe, veteran journalist, broadcaster and public affairs specialist, writes on, and analyses current and historical issues with a ‘wise pen’.