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.
View the most popular articles in Paying For It:
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Financing Your Kids’ Education: Coronavirus Edition
Learn more about Financing Your Kids’ Education in Private School.

Parents turn to private K-12 education for all kinds of reasons, from overall quality of curricula and individualized teaching strategies to location and religious affiliation. Now they may be adding another motivation to the list: overcrowded classrooms and public school bus rides just seem more dangerous in the age of coronavirus.  

If you’re home-schooling your kids right now, the day they return to classes may seem like a distant dream. (How’s your blood pressure?) But September will come—with or without online classes. Chances are you’re making decisions right now that will affect at least a year of your child’s future. Chief among them may be how you will continue to finance your child’s private school education.

In 2020, the average cost of K-12 private school tuition reached $11,012. Depending on where you live and whether you have elementary-, middle-, or high school-age kids, your mileage may vary. But across the country, student loan debt has been increasing steadily along with the rising cost of education. K-12 loans aren’t subsidized by the federal government like higher-education loans. Still, many parents clearly believe that private school education is worth the investment. The question moms and dads should be asking themselves is, “How can I be sure I’m investing wisely?”

School Stability

The global coronavirus pandemic has injected uncertainty into every sector of the economy. That’s true at the micro-level, as many parents join the fast-expanding ranks of unemployed workers. It’s also true for private schools, whose economic well-being is based on parents’ ability to

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The New Tax Code's Implications For 529 Plans For K-12 Schools
Changes to the Tax Code in late 2017 included the addition of saving for K-12 private school education to 529 plans. We take a look at what this means for families thinking about private school for their children.

In December 2017 the 115th Congress of the United States passed a major act dealing with taxes. One of the changes in the Tax Code pertained to ESA or Educational Savings Accounts. Most parents and grandparents are probably familiar with ESAs as a means of saving for their children and grandchildren's college educations. Congress has expanded Section 529 ESAs to include K-12 education expenses as well as college expenses.

First, a bit of history. The educational savings accounts known as Section 529 plans were created by the Small Business Job Protection Act Of 1996. The section of this act which pertains to educational savings accounts is entitled PART VIII—QUALIFIED STATE TUITION PROGRAMS. The text begins on page 141. This is worth reading so that you can discuss the topic with your financial advisor when you set up your 529 plan.

Changes to the Tax Code

On Friday, December 22, 2017 President Donald Trump signed An Act to Provide for Reconciliation Pursuant to Titles II and V of the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2018  While the Act has effects on a wide range of tax situations, the specific text pertaining to K-12 educational expenses can be found on page 74.  Here is the relevant paragraph:

‘‘(7) TREATMENT OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY TUITION.—Any reference in this subsection to the term ‘qualified higher education expense’ shall include a reference to expenses for tuition in connection with enrollment or attendance at an elementary or secondary public,

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Why Does Tuition Vary So Much?
How can you compare schools objectively when the costs seem to be so different from one school to the next? We look at some of the reasons why private school tuition varies so much.

Beginning the school search process is a lot of fun. Those beautiful photographs of tree-lined campuses and sports activities, the candid shots of classroom scenes portraying kind, patient teachers, the history of the school and its many accomplishments over the years as well as all those famous graduates - it is all very impressive. So, you make a list of schools which you want to examine in greater detail. At this point in your school search process,  the question which I posed in the title of this article begins to surface.

I can hear you wondering how you are going to compare schools objectively when the costs seem to be so different from one school to the next. One boarding school charges $56,000 for tuition, room and board while another school in the same state lists its tuition, room and board as $28,000. Why, then, do some schools cost so much and some cost so little?

Boarding schools

Your costs for schools which charge the most for their services range from $45,000 to $65,000. These schools are residential schools or what we commonly call boarding schools. As well as charging for tuition and related expenses, these schools have to bill for room and board. You will notice that some schools offer two types of boarding arrangements. One is the customary seven-day a week boarding; the other is a five-day boarding scheme where the students reside at the school during the week and return home on the weekends. The five-day boarding

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Vouchers aka Tax Credits and Scholarship Funds
Voucher programs have gained a lot of traction since 1989 when the first voucher program appeared in Milwaukee. We look at how things are playing out in 2015.

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

Vouchers

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? Because

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Making the Financial Aid Process Work for You
Do you need financial aid? Not sure? Confused by how financial aid works? Here are some answers.
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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Recent Articles
Learn more about Financing Your Kids’ Education in Private School.
Our children's education is a critical concern. That's why we elected to send our kids to private school in the first place. However, this COVID-19 virus is controlling everything. And it will continue to do so indefinitely until we have vaccines to protect us. With that in mind, here are five things you need to do when you are a parent with children in private school during this horrific pandemic.
If you are thinking about private school for your child in the aftermath of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, you should exercise even more due diligence than you usually would. More here.
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.