Finding the right school is often the top priority for families living in or relocating to Beijing. But education in the capital comes at a cost.
Many larger companies offer full school funding for employees’ children as part of their relocation packages, meaning that money is no barrier to the top international schools. But not all are so fortunate. Some may choose to simply pay the fees out-of-pocket, while others look to local schools, homeschooling, and different sources of financial assistance to mitigate the cost of education. We spoke with four families about their solutions to the school funding conundrum.
Scholarship: The Lay-Him Family
Yearly Spend (in RMB)
Total: RMB 101,800
US-born Christopher Lay has lived in Beijing for five years, where he works as a photographer, writer, and beijingkids columnist. He lives in Wangjing with his wife Savvy Him (a full-time working mom), their 6-year-old daughter Reina, and toddler twins Bryson and Ryder (age 1). Reina started attending Daystar Academy after receiving a scholarship.
What is the nature of the scholarship?
Reina was awarded a scholarship to attend Daystar Academy by the board of directors. It was based on how well Reina [and our]family were a good fit for the school and our need [for]financial support. The scholarship covered the entrance and lunch fees and reduced the tuition to a level that we could manage. There are only a limited number of scholarships awarded each year and we felt very fortunate to receive one.
How was the scholarship assessed and awarded?
Upon enrolling at Daystar, all applicants receive an assessment from an English and Chinese teacher. The school also reviewed Reina’s records from kindergarten. In addition, the board also needed our financial records. I believe that, because Reina was already fluent in both languages (she previously attended a local kindergarten) and understands both Western and Chinese cultural differences, she was an ideal candidate for the school.
How much help has it been financially for you?
The scholarship made all the difference on our school choice for Reina. She really wanted a bilingual educational experience, but without the assistance from the board, Reina would be attending a local school here in Wangjing.
Did you look at scholarships from other schools?
We did not apply to other schools since most are much more expensive than Daystar and few have a similar bilingual approach. [The school] always felt like the best fit for our family. Our backup was the Wangjing Experimental School as it is close to home, but honestly, we were all in on Daystar.
You have 1-year-old twins. What are your plans for financing their education?
Sell one to pay for the other’s education? That is an excellent question that remains to be answered. We considered homeschooling Reina in the past, but it never felt like a good fit for her. With twin boys, homeschooling might be a viable option. Unless our finances change dramatically, there is no way we can afford international school prices for three children in Beijing. Beyond kindergarten, Beijing may not be viable unless we homeschool or the boys go to a local school.
Find the downloadable 2014-2015 School Choice Guide here.
Photo by Ken