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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Vouchers have been a fact in American private school education since 1989 when the State of Wisconsin passed a voucher program which aimed to help students from low income families in Milwaukee. Since then 39 voucher programs have been set up. According to the American Federation for Children the following states now have some form of voucher program:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin


What exactly are vouchers? The simplest definition is using public funds to pay for a private school education. Voucher programs take many forms and we will look at those later in this article.

How many students nationwide benefit from voucher programs? In 2014 approximately 308,000 students were recipients of some kind of tax dollars in voucher programs or variations thereof. That is 0.006% of the K-12 public school student population which was approximately 50 million at the beginning of the 2014 school year. The actual expenditure is in the millions of dollars which like the number of students in voucher programs is tiny. 

What is the future of voucher programs? As of 2015 voucher programs are state-sponsored, state-managed and state-funded programs. Some politicians, however, would like to see federal funds used for voucher programs nationwide. Why? Because their constituents are disatisfied with underperforming public schools.

What does the public education community think about vouchers? Needless to say, voucher programs in all their forms and variations are complete anathema to the teachers unions and the supporters of public education. Why?

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Finding the right private school for your child is a major process in and of itself. It is time-consuming with lots of steps, deadlines and forms to fill out and submit. Then, of course, you have to deal with the issue of how to pay for that private school education once you have identified the right school. Against this backdrop let's you and I figure out how to make the financial aid process work for us.
Start early
The key to success with any major project is to begin early. Taming the financial aid part of getting your child into private school begins with knowing how much you can afford to pay. Have that number worked out and clear in your mind. The most effective way at figuring out what you can pay is to review your income and expenses. Determine what you can afford to pay monthly for your child's tuition. Project that also as an annual amount. Now bear in mind that this is a rough cut because what you are going to be doing very soon is completing the online documentation known as the Parents' Financial Statement or PFS provided by the School and Student Service (SSS) organization operated by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). The PFS will require accurate financial information about your income, expenses and assets as well as information about any other children who are in tuition-charging schools, i.e., private school. Having that rough idea of how much financial aid you
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I am always sad to hear parents rule out sending their children to private school because it is too expensive. The conversation usually begins with one of these facts as the reason for considering private school:
1. Their child is gifted.
2. Class sizes in the local public school are way too large.
3. Their child has a learning disability.
Any one of these reasons is a valid reason for considering private school. But, unfortunately, that is as far as considering a private school gets in most cases. Why? Because either the parents assume that they cannot afford private school or they looked at the page on a school's web site showing tuition and fees and panicked. 
Considering sending your child is a major decision. As with any major decision, it makes sense to do your due diligence before ruling anything out. When you take time to do a thorough investigation of the facts, as opposed to your assumptions, you just might be pleasantly surprised at what you discover. That applies equally to paying for private school.
Here then are six ways you can pay for a private school education. One just might prove to be the answer you are looking for.
1. Write a check.
Some people can afford to write a check for their children's private school tuition. If you are in a position in life where you can do this, don't forget to ask about a cash discount. Most schools will be thrilled to get their money up front. The usual practice is to
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DO Understand Why Some Private Schools Cost More Than Others
There are several factors which drive tuition costs. Location and facilities and type of school are three of the most important factors. Some schools cost more than others simply because of where they are located. Real estate prices vary widely throughout the United States as you well know. For example, it costs considerably less to rent space in Butte, Montana than in Los Angeles, California. 
Insurance costs vary from locality to locality as well. Schools need comprehensive liability and property insurance. That's not an expense a prudent private school business manager will stint on.
The school facilities vary widely as well. A 12 classroom K-6 school located in the 10 year old education wing of a church or temple will cost less to run than a similar school housed in a 1930s mansion set on 30 private acres in the countryside.
Boarding schools generally cost more to operate than day schools. That's because they offer 24/7 supervision of your child as opposed to the 8 or 9 hours daily supervision a day school will offer.
Schools specializing in remediating learning differences and disabilities cost even more because they employ experienced, highly skilled and trained para-professionals and professionals who work with students closely, often on an individual or 1 to 1 basis. That drives the labor cost associated with this kind of teaching much higher than when a teacher has a class of 12-15 students.
DONT Delay Finding Out About Financial Aid
Financial aid can be very confusing
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You and I can understand the average cost of tuition of private schools as detailed on Private School Review by being aware of a couple of factors. We will take a look at those factors and also show you how the cost of a private K-12 education varies from region to region. That way, if you have to move from one location to another, you will have a general idea of what to expect as far as your private school expenses go.
We will begin with a look at how the cost of elementary schools compares with schools offering high school grades.
Costs subsidized by religious organizations
Let's examine one reason why average tuition costs can be less in one area than in another. That has to do with the number of religious schools included in the statistics. I am not being negative here. Just factual. Faith-based schools, be they Roman Catholic, Jewish or Christian or any other religion, tend to be subsidized by their religious organizations. For example, a temple which establishes an elementary school will do so to serve its congregation in the first instance and then as an outreach to the wider Jewish community in the second instance. The tuition generally will be discounted for families who are members of the temple. This practice is similar to how state universities charge less for students who are state residents as opposed to students who are from out of state.
Using existing facilities
The next factor to consider will be non-cash subsidies such
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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.