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.
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Updated June 10, 2016 |
Which Is The Most Expensive Private School?
Tuition at private schools varies from nothing at a few schools to over $100,000 for the most expensive school.
Le Rosey which bills itself as 'the prestigious international boarding school' tops the scale at a princely $114,000 in tuition and fees for 2014-15. Sundries are not included. The school is located in Switzerland and is owned a Swiss couple who are 'Les Directeurs'. What sort of clientele enjoys Le Rosey's proximity to some of the best skiing in the world? You guessed it: children of the rich and famous from every corner of the globe. The school does offer some need-based scholarships.
 
Back in the real world private schools in the U.S. get along with boarding tuition and fees running in the $40-45,000 range. Forman School tops the list at $64,150 for 2013-14. Tuition and fees at most day schools will run you approximately $20,000-25,000 a year.

At the bottom of the scale in terms of fees are the parochial schools. The Roman Catholic, Jewish, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Seventh Day Adventist, Christian and Muslim schools offer great educations for a very reasonable cost. Most of these schools are day schools. Schools like the Cristo del Rey schools specifically target at risk children from families which could not otherwise afford a private school education.

Helping the affordability factor is the initiative taken by several leading prep schools. Read Private School May Be Free If You Make Less Than $75,000 for details.

Remember: most private schools offer generous financial aid. Be sure to ask each school on your list. Don't forget
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Updated May 25, 2016 |
Borrowing to Pay for Private School
Borrowing money to pay for your child's private school is one of several options you have.
Whether you are a parent looking to send your child to a private K-12 school, or your child is currently enrolled in one, you are probably exploring your options for how to pay for tuition and the other costs associated with a K-12 school. The following information will guide you as you consider the many loan program options available to help you pay for your child's private education.
 
Tuition Planning
 
Advanced planning is your best option for financing a private school education. The first step in planning for education financing is to contact the admissions or business office at your child's current or prospective school. The financial aid officers at the school can help you learn about available financing options. Waiting until the last minute is never a good idea when it comes to matters financial. By starting your research early you give yourself time to plan paying for this major expense on the best terms possible.
 
Today a large number of private school students receive financial aid. Many schools offer financial aid in the form of merit awards and need-based scholarships. Based on eligibility, these awards can help make a private school education more affordable. Financial aid grants may cover a significant portion of your child's tuition depending on the school and eligibility. Knowing what a potential award might be helps you plan your borrowing.
 
About Private School Student Loans
 
In addition to scholarships and grants, there is another valuable resource to help you pay for your child's education, particularly when grants and
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Updated April 09, 2015 |
Will The School Give Me A Refund If My Child Withdraws Early?
What happens if my child suddenly takes sick before the end of the school year? What if he is expelled? Answers here.
You have just paid $45,000 for a year's tuition and fees at St. Sedgewick's. You are all set, right? Not exactly. What happens if your child suddenly takes sick before the end of the school year? What if circumstances beyond your control force you to withdraw her from school in March? What if he is expelled? In brief, you are obligated for the entire year's tuition and fees regardless of whether your child completes the year or not.
 
What Are My Options?
 
The only remedy you have is to sign up for the school's refund plan. It typically acts like insurance in the event that your child withdraws before end of year.  The insurance plan will pay for the unused/remaining portion of your child's time at the school. You contracted to pay for an entire year when you signed the contract with the school at the time she was accepted. You do not want to be out of pocket. Neither does the school. This is why tuition refund insurance is an important part of your planning for a private school education. Tuition refund policies are in place at every private school regardless of whether it is day or boarding, large or small, elementary/nursery school or high school.
 
St. Mary's policy is the sort of thing you can expect at most schools:
 
"To minimize the loss to a family due to early departure or change in boarding status, Saint Mary’s School has established a Refund Plan. Under ordinary circumstances, the Refund Plan
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Updated May 25, 2016 |
Private School May Be Free If You Make Less Than $75,000
Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth set the pace. Now several top private schools are offering free or greatly reduced tuition for children from families making less than $75,000.
Over the past two decades private schools have developed very generous financial aid programs. This has happened for a variety of reasons. But the most compelling reason is that private schools want to diversify their student bodies. They want to attract academically well-qualified applicants whose families simply cannot afford the enormous expense of sending their children to private school. Generous financial aid programs are one way of helping schools achieve that goal.
 

Here's how Exeter describes why it offers the very generous financial aid it does:

 

"Socioeconomic diversity has been a characteristic of Phillips Exeter Academy from our founding. It's built into our ethic—to attract and teach 'youth from every quarter'—and it's crucial to the nature of our community and our classrooms."

 

St. Paul's School, Concord, New Hampshire expresses its commitment to financial aid as follows:

 

"We are committed to making St. Paul’s an affordable option for families.

 

To honor this commitment we will:

  • Consider a household income of $80,000 per year or less as qualifying for full financial aid.
  • Families with an annual income of less than $200,000 will not pay more than 10% of their income toward tuition per year." 

Deerfield Academy outlines its full-need grants as follows:

 

In 2012-2013 over 28% of our financial aid recipients received full-need grants. These full-need grants include 98% or more of tuition coverage as well as other forms of assistance. These can include coverage for laptop and schoolbook purchases, travel allowances, stipends for school supplies, music and dance lessons, and

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Updated May 25, 2016 |
Paying for Private School
Some people can write a check for a year's tuition and never miss it. The rest of us have to be creative. Here are some options for paying for a private school education.
Some people can write a check for a year's tuition and never miss it. But with private school tuitions running into the $30's for day school and getting close to $50,000 for boarding school, the rest of us have to be creative.
 
Here are some options for paying for a private school education.
  • Pay the fees in two installments.
  • Sign up with a tuition payment service and pay monthly installments.
  • Borrow the funds you need.
  • Apply for financial aid.
  • Investigate other funding sources.
Pay the fees in two instalments.
Private schools generally render their bills in early summer and late fall for payment within 30 days. These invoices will include one half of the academic year's tuition charge as well as incidentals. Incidentals include fees for items such as as technology, sports, activities, laundry, and so on. Be sure to ask whether the school offers a cash discount.
 
Sign up with a tuition payment service and pay monthly installments.

The way these plans work is that you in effect are borrowing from them.  You borrow one year's tuition fees and incidentals. Then you repay in equal installments, generally 10 installments. The plan in turn pays the school on the tuition due dates. This is a good payment option if you need to spread the payments over several months.
 
Note: not all schools accept all these plans. Each school makes its own arrangements with a specific tuition payment service. These firms offer private school tuition payment plans:
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