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Volunteer hours for parents: Can they help reduce school tuition?

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For many parents, volunteering at their child's school is the best way to stay connected to what's going on in that particular community, as well as to get to know the teachers and school officials better, so that parents and administrators can become a strong team. But how else do volunteer hours count toward a child's education and can they help reduce tuition? Let's find out in this parent Q&A!

Q: Could volunteer hours rendered by the parents decrease the tuition of their children?

A: Great question! The consensus of most experts is to check first and foremost with the individual school because although decreases in tuition are generally more rare through volunteering, they can happen. Some schools don't use volunteers at all, while some offer a wide range of benefits to parents. It's best to ask the school directly during the admissions process, or to contact the school director or admissions department.

According to Barbara Bierman, executive director for the Ontario Federation of Independent Schools, "Each school has different policies on the use of volunteers and any benefits that may come the volunteers' way. Some schools have tuition reduction incentive programs based on voucher purchase or volunteering. And there is a whole range of schools between who allow some volunteering, and who provide no incentive for volunteering other than to be more involved in their childrens' schools."

In regards to voucher purchases, she elaborates, "Some schools participate in gift card purchase programs. Schools sell the gift cards to parents and a certain percentage of the proceeds goes to the schools. Schools then either use those funds to keep tuition lower or they use those funds to lower the balance of tuition for parents individually."

A few examples of companies that specialize in gift card fundraising are Shop & Support and Fundscrip.

Most often, as Katherine Poyntz from the Canadian Council of Montessori Administrators confirmed by email, "Having parent volunteers is unique for each school and it can come in the form of community building, fun and fund-raising, parent committees for making materials, gardening or cleaning up play grounds, creating a library or from a real need to have help (i.e. giving children individual reading help on a daily parent volunteer basis). Parent volunteerism can also be about creating parent partnerships which is so important in schools and especially in schools where the pedagogy is less familiar to parents."

Most schools have financial aid and bursary or scholarship programs available for families who need the assistance, and in most cases these schools have a policy in place in which they don't hire parents. However, it doesn't hurt to ask!

The bottom line here is to check with the individual school about the possibilities–you never know what they might be able to offer you!

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