It's certainly fun to navigate different private school sites and see what's out there. And you must do that, not only on your own but with your child. For all sorts of good reasons. Remember: your child needs to buy into this important decision. It mustn't be a unilateral decision unless the circumstances are exceptional such as your requiring a school for special needs or a therapeutic school. In those situations, obviously, you know best and will make the appropriate decision for your child.
There's another consideration we parents need to review carefully as we decide which private school is the best one for our children. And that's the cost. But don't just look at the price! Why? Because there are several factors in play when it comes to paying for a private school education.
1. Financial Aid
Depending on your financial situation the school may offer you a financial aid package. This could well have the effect of making that school that charges $25,000 a year as affordable, for example, as the school which charges $18,000 but offers no financial aid. So, ask questions and get the answers you need about financial aid. Financial aid programs vary from school to school. Assume nothing. Ask.
This video from the Parents' League of New York discusses financial aid for private school tuition.
2. Tuition-Free Education
The other factor to consider is that you may be able to get a tuition-free education at several schools. Exeter and Andover, as well as several other top schools, offer free educations if the family income falls below certain thresholds. $75,000 is the figure at Exeter. The threshold varies from school to school, so be sure to ask. Private schools in the 21st century are very proactive when it comes to diversity. Gone are the days when private schools were just for rich kids.
3. Free Schools
Yes. Free. There are a handful of boarding and day schools that offer a completely free education provided you meet several criteria. Girard College, Milton Hershey School, and the Kamehameha Schools are schools that were established by generous benefactors at the end of the 19th century and in the early part of the 20th century.
This video offers an overview of Girard College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
4. Schools with Work-Study Components
Founded in 2001 the Cristo Rey Network of schools is a very new group of schools that provide a quality Catholic college preparatory education at extremely low cost. Students work 5 full days a month to help defray the cost of their education as well as to gain job experience.
5. Department of Defense Schools
While not private in the true sense, DoDEA schools are restricted to children of military personnel and function on military bases at home and abroad. The DoDEA operates 194 schools in 7 states and 12 foreign countries.
It's an interesting and varied array of options, isn't it? Be sure to explore all of your options. There's bound to be a school which will fit your requirements.
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