The final step in the process of choosing a private school is dealing with the acceptance letter. These letters are typically mailed in mid-March for schools which have a January 31 (or thereabouts) deadline for applications. If the school has rolling admissions, you will receive your acceptance letter or an offer of a place at the school once your admissions file is completed and a decision has been made.
If you have been accepted
Schools will give you a date by which you must accept or refuse the offer of admission. Acceptance requires the return of the acceptance forms together with payment of a deposit for next year's tuition.That is usually 10% of the fees. So, for example, if next year's tuition is $25,000, you will need to return the acceptance forms with a payment of $2,500. If you applied for financial aid, you will also receive a letter detailing the terms of your financial aid package.
It is very important to read all the materials which the schools send you and deal with them immediately. You have a limited window of opportunity in which to respond. If, for some reason, you do not reply to the acceptance letter, the school will most likely give away your child's place.
What if the financial aid package is not enough?
It is possible that the financial aid award letter will contain some perplexing news. You may have required $15,000 in aid and the school is only offering $10,000. What are your options? Discuss your situation with the school. A full and frank discussion of the matter will be the first step to finding a solution. Don't delay. And don't be embarrassed about asking for more help especially if your circumstances have changed since you filed your financial aid forms.
If you were rejected
The rejection letter will be just that. The envelope from the school will be disappointingly thin. The school will inform you politely that you didn't make it. There is no recourse
If you were waitlisted
It's possible that the school thought you were a good fit but just not quite good enough to make the first cut of acceptances. But they aren't sure whether everybody they accepted will actually decide to attend their school. So what they do then is to put qualified applicants on a waitlist.
The way that works is that sometime in April after the school finds out who is coming and who is not, they will then offer places to applicants they have on their waitlist. Basically the school is hedging its bets.
What should you do? Discuss your options with your educational consultant. It might make sense to accept one of the other offers you have. The downside to that is that if the school where you are waitlisted finally does offer you a place, you will forfeit the deposit already paid to the school you were not waitlisted at.