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.
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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.
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. . .read more
What is financial aid? Financial aid is money given by individual private schools to help families pay for a private school education. Private schools give families millions of dollars annually to help them afford a private school education.
What is the purpose of financial aid? Financial aid is one tool private schools can use to make their school more diverse. Yes, many years ago, private schools had a less than positive reputation for being elitist. But thankfully, times have changed. Being able to pay for a private school education is no longer the only thing that matters. If your child has the qualifications which the school is looking for but you cannot afford to send her, then financial aid is certainly an option which you need to explore.
Read what one of the most prestigious private schools in the United States of America has to say about diversity:
"Andover's broad socio-economic diversity is a hallmark of the Academy as displayed in the inclusive distribution of financial aid grants to low-, middle- and upper- middle income families."
Phillips Andover, like a great many private schools, has a Need Blind Admission policy in place. What that means is that the school does not look at your financial circumstances as part of its admissions criteria. Ask whether the school to which you are applying has a Need Blind Admissions policy in place and find out more about how it works.
Financial aid programs are unique.
Because schools expect their fees to. . .read more
If you require financial aid in order to send your child to private school, you will probably have to complete The Parents’ Financial Statement or PFS for short. The PFS instructions and application can be found on the School and Student Services web site. School and Student Services is an offering of the National Association of Independent Schools. It gives you access to over 2,000 schools which use this service to assess the financial needs of parents applying for financial aid from individual schools.
What is really helpful about SSS is that you only have to complete the application once. There is a one time fee of $35. And if you cannot afford the application fee, the fee can be waived by using the special fee waiver code which the school will give you.
Complete the Application
The Parents Financial Statement Instruction Booklet walks you through each step of the process. Remember that you only complete the PFS if the school asks you to. After completing the application, you pay for it - currently a $35 fee - and submit your application. This will do two things: it sends your application to the schools which you have selected and it gives you an estimate of the kind of aid which you can expect to be offered. Now, you must realize that the SSS estimate is only that. Each individual school will determine the amount of financial aid you will receive based on the available pool of. . .read more
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 to weather the storm. It is. . .read more
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