It pays to go to school. (Or something like that!)

Our summer fun is quickly coming to an end.  And so begins the Back-to-School whirlwind.  There are school uniforms and shoes to be bought.  Backpacks.  And an endless supply of notebooks, pencils and every school supply imaginable multiplied by four. 

Today, I got the first taste of the Back-to-School madness.

Jr. High registration for returning students was this morning at 9.  So last night, before I went to bed, I gathered everything I might need: Hope's report card, birth certificate and immunization record.  It wasn't really hard to find.  I kept everything in the same folder from last year's registration, including one tiny detail I had forgotten...La Cuota Voluntaria!

Almost every school in Mexico has a Cuota Voluntaria.  It's a "voluntary" payment made each school year for repairs, maintenance and whatever else the school might need.  (Just not a substitute teacher! But we already discussed that over here.)  

The Cuota Voluntaria varies from school to school.  The Kindergarten Cuota is only 150 pesos per year, while the Elementary School Cuota is 250 pesos.  At both schools, parents have until December to pay the Cuota Voluntaria to either the Parent-Teacher Association or the school office, and can do so in weekly or monthly payments. 

But the Junior High Cuota is handled a little differently.  The parents must deposit the money (300 pesos) directly to the school's bank account, then present the receipt at the school for registration.  There's no need for the bank account number, because our town is so small there's only one Junior High and the bank tellers know the account number by heart. 

But don't let the name Cuota Voluntaria fool you.  The word "Voluntaria" is a little misleading.  To me, "Voluntary" means that we can choose to pay it or not.  It's not like it's MANDATORY!  Ah, but it is!  Parents are reminded to pay the Cuota Voluntaria at every school meeting.  Some schools (not the ones my kids attend) will actually withhold a child's report card if the Cuota isn't paid by the end of the school year.  Other schools (again, not the ones my kids attend) won't allow a child to attend school if the Cuota isn't paid at registration. And here I thought it was Voluntaria!

But it's not all bad.  If you're like me, in that you have a large family, these Cuota Voluntarias can add up to a lot of dinero.  I have four kids in three different schools.  And this is actually where the schools are very understanding.  If a parent has more than one child attending the same school, they are only required to pay ONE Cuota Voluntaria!   

And we all know that...A peso saved is a peso earned! 



  1. Leslie - Kind of like paying Federal income tax in the U.S. Somewhere early on it was described as voluntary - hmmmm.

  2. Oh and I failed to mention that those fees are quite a bargain. 300 pesos or about $25 U.S. compared to the average $7800 U.S. per student in U.S. schools (of course paid by property taxes).

  3. That is cool that they will work with you if you have more then 1 child. That was always my biggest problem when it came to schools. Especially back in the states. People would always say... " It is only $2000 a month -you should be able to do that." Well, okay- then for those of us that have more kids - that gets really expensive.

    But hey- I am okay with paying- just get the kids back in school

  4. Interesting -- and this is for a public school? What do schools do about families that can't afford the cost of books, uniforms, and *voluntary* fees??

    I was thinking of volunteering at a local school because I don't want to eventually leave MX not having seen how public schools operate. Do you substitute at your kids' schools sometimes? I'm wondering how different schools are between here and the US.

  5. hahahaa sounds like actually providing teachers is more "voluntario" than the "cuota voluntaria", right?

    I do think it's cool that they only make you pay for 1 kid :) (Maybe paying for the other 3 kids is the "voluntaria" part?)

  6. hi leslie,

    i left you a comment on cynthia's blog but then realized that you might not go back to it. so, i just wanted to say thank you for the kind words.

    i'm sure you will miss your kids when they go back to school. you sound like you have so much fun with them. i always wished my kids were home longer because i enjoyed doing so many different things with them in the summer. i know a lot of parents can't wait for their kids to go back to school, but i never felt that way and i have a feeling you don't either.


    teresa in lake stevens

  7. So you have one down and three to go, I look forward to hearing about the others getting enrolled

  8. Very interesting how the do schooling in Mexico! Thanks for sharing with us!!

  9. How awesome that you relocated to Mexico! I'm looking forward to learning more about life south of the border...


  10. that just reminded me of my years studying in Mexico! I attended school there from pre-K all the way up to primero de secundaria and I'm having lots flashbacks reading your posts. I grew up in San Juan de los Lagos, Jalisco which is kind of close where you're living now! btw, just discovered your blog and love it!! saludos!