Paying For It

Private school can be a big investment. Learn more about tuition costs, extra fees and the funding options available. We'll cover financial aid, scholarships, and outside financing. Explore some of the most expensive schools and learn where your child can attend free.
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Financial aid can be very confusing for many parents. You wonder whether you make too much to be eligible. Is there a specific time when you apply? Here are five facts most of us didn't know about private school financial aid.

1. You have to apply for it.
Applying for financial aid at most private schools is a separate process from applying for admission to the school. You also need to make sure that you apply early. This is particularly important if the school has no specific admissions deadline or rolling admissions.

2. You may be eligible for free tuition if your family income is below a certain amount.
Exeter, Andover, Groton, St. Paul's and Deerfield all have financial aid programs which offer a tuition free education to admitted students whose income is below a certain threshold. The threshold varies but is in the $60-75k range.

3. There is a common application form.
Many private schools use a common financial aid form. This vastly simplifies the process of applying to several schools. You will have to fill out the Parents' Financial Statement (PFS) online at www.nais.org/financialaid/sss. You can also complete a paper version of this application. This will be available from school admissions offices.

4. Most schools have a sliding scale of aid.
You may think that you are ineligible for financial aid because your family income is $150,000. The truth is that you may indeed be eligible for some aid. It will depend on factors such as how many children you have at the . . .read more
Money always talks. Pay cash for something, no matter what that something is, and you will get a better deal. A discount. Better terms. Nowadays the same thing applies to getting into private school. Assuming that your child offers everything the school is looking for, if you tell the school that you do not need any financial assistance, you can be virtually assured of acceptance. Why is that? What's changed?
 
The Perfect Storm
The impact of the financial markets' meltdown in 2008 meant that endowments shrunk significantly in most cases. 20-30% shrinkage seems to be the norm, though, of course, it is extremely difficult to unearth any data. You and I will have to wait until schools have filed their Forms 990.. Form 990 is the tax return not for profit organizations file each year. Most schools file at the end of their fiscal year which typically is June 30. 

Added to the financial meltdown are the vast numbers of jobs which have been shed as companies have folded or down-sized. That means there are less parents able to afford private school without at least some financial assistance. Another factor is that many parents who were counting on sending their children to private school are scaling back their spending. The result is that there are fewer applicants for many schools.

The top tier schools are feeling minimal impact as they still have a huge demand for places and relatively strong finances. They can make the adjustments needed . . .read more
Many parents are finding themselves short on funds to pay for private school tuition both after their child has been accepted and when it comes time to commit to another year at the school. What do you do? Withdraw your child? Send her to public school? Here are some options which you should explore.

Scenario A
The deposit and contract for next year at Wildwood Country Day School are lying there in your stack of bills. You are one of the lucky ones. Your $150k job seems secure. At least for now. But your wife's job is looking kind of uncertain as sales are down. Layoffs are in the works. She's been there for 15 years and makes $95k as the HR director. All the economic indicators are just so scary. Maybe you should pull Jodee out of private school and save that $25k. If the school could help you a bit, you might feel a bit more confident about keeping her in school.

Scenario B
You are paying $1000 a month for your son's private high school. The school gave you a financial aid package which pays the equivalent of $1000 a month. But your wife just had major surgrey. Suddenly you are looking at $15,000 in medical bills you have to pay. Your cash savings are worth $5,000. Your 401k went south months ago. What do you do? Withdraw your son?

Scenario C
You just found out that you have to take a pay . . .read more
There are only a handful of free private schools in the United States. Most of them were founded many years ago by visionary, community-minded individuals who believed that children from working class and poor families should have the same educational advantages as children from families with money. The impact these schools have had on society is enormous. The benefits to thousands of students and their families are priceless.

As you read about these schools and watch the videos, remember that all of these schools believe very emphatically that an education does not consist solely of academics. Each of these schools understands that a child needs nurturing and counselling so that he can make the most of the opportunities before him.  These schools expect the child's family to be involved. His education is a partnership of three: home, school and student. That's what it takes to provide the solid foundation a child needs in order to succeed in his adult life.
 
De Marillac Academy, San Francisco, is an example of the very best sort of educational initiative sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church. Established by Daughters of Charity and De La Salle Christian Brothers the school provides tuition free schooling for middle school age children in one of San Francisco's poorest neighborhoods. More about the mission of the Academy here.
 
 
The key to De Marillac's ability to accomplish its mission is the Academy's Schoolwide Learning Expectations. The Academy isn't providing simply a top-notch . . .read more
No doubt about it, private school tuition costs are rising. Some schools seem to be rising at a faster rate than others. Why? What's behind those tuition increases? Unfortunately for many private schools costs of basic goods and services have risen dramatically. Energy costs alone chew up a major part of any school's budget. Faculty and staff salaries and benefits are a substantial part of  budgets as well. In order to attract and retain qualified, skilled and experience personnel, you need to offer a decent compensation package with annual increases. Most schools also offer free or substantially reduced tuition for children of faculty and staff.

The Foundation Center keeps Forms 990 for every non-profit organization which files with the IRS. It is fairly easy to see how much the school reported as income and expenses as well as a wealth of other data. Note that it is frankly impossible to compare apples to apples when it comes to private schools. Even their accounting and reporting varies from school to school. But a review of the data paints the same picture: costs are rising.

Another fact to consider is that tuition charged by a school does not completely offset expenses. That is why you will see your tuition bill filled with additional charges for technology, communications, laundry, athletics, uniforms and so on. These sundries, as the more bespoke schools style them, vary from school to school.
 
Is it worth it? Private schools have to spend their income wisely. They . . .read more
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Paying For It

Financial Aid

Paying for private school can be expensive and financial aid can be a huge help. Here we'll cover the financial aid options, how eligibility is determined and how it can affect the admissions process.

Financing Basics

There are several ways to finance a private school education, learn more about your options here. We'll explore some of the most expensive schools, explain why tuition is rising and show you how it's all paid for.

Free Schools and Scholarships

Don't let the cost of private school deter you, many schools offer scholarships. Explore scholarships, how they are funded and get a list of schools your child may be able to attend tuition free.