One of my young employees was horrified to discover that a certain Los Angeles day school charges $30,000 tuition. "How do they pay for that?" was his shocked cry. It's difficult for a 24 year old who's only making $40,000 to understand how families can afford college much less private school. So, exactly how does a family afford a private school education? Here are some ways they can make that special educational opportunity possible.
There are not many scholarships
for K-12 private school students. Still, it is worth doing your research in this area to uncover the scholarships which do exist. Several states have programs set up which allow citizens to contribute to funding for private schools. Arizona and Washington offer special tax credits for gifts to private schools for scholarships.
This is the most exciting part of the 'paying for private school' picture. Understand that each private school is independent. Each school stands on its own two feet financially speaking. That's why financial aid
will vary from school to school. Older, established schools such as Andover and Exeter have substantial endowment funds. That's why they and a few other schools can offer a virtually free education to students who come from families which make below a certain amount. $75,000, for example. But you will have to visit the schools' web sites to find out the details. Better yet, call and ask.
If you are strapped for cash, but have assets which can be pledged as collateral, then perhaps a loan will make sense. It pays to consult a financial expert before commiting to such a major outlay. Remember: you still have college expenses to cover in the years ahead.
Tuition payment plans
Most private schools will offer some method of spreading the annual tuition bill over the year. Monthly payments of a fixed amount make budgeting easier. Tuition payment plans come in two varietes: the kind which is an ad hoc arrangement with the school. You agree to pay a certain amount of tuition plus incidental expenses each month. The other kind of tuition payment plan is one managed by an outside firm which collections the money from you monthly but in fact pays the school up front. In this latter situation the firm assumes the risk of paying the school rather than the school assuming the risk.
If your employer posts you and your family abroad, more than likely you will be offered tuition free schooling for your school age children. You will still be responsible for the incidentals such as lunches, lab fees, lessons and so on. The idea behind offering this perk to expatriot employees is simply to smooth the transition from being abroad when you and your family return home to the States.
There are a handful of private schools which offer parents of limited means the opportunity to send their children to private school basically for free. These schools range from boarding schools to day schools. What's the catch? There's no catch. Just very few free schools.
Tip: You will have to complete dozens of pages of online and/or paper forms. You will also have to supply tax information for the past several years. As a result, it is very important to keep yourself organized. Incomplete applications and inconsistent information can cause problems when your application is reviewed.