Financial aid and other forms of tuition assistance help make private school education a reality for any student. While this page will arm you with the knowledge to begin the financial aid process, we can’t stress enough the importance of carefully reviewing each school’s policies as timelines, requirements, and forms of assistance vary.
There are a variety of financial aid and tuition assistance options available to families (see the list below), and each school handles them differently. Until you’ve gone through the process, don’t assume that you make too much, or that an inadequate award from one school means another won’t meet your family’s financial needs.
Don’t wait on admission decisions before applying for financial aid. Double-check each school’s deadline, but in general, submit aid applications in the same timeframe as admission applications — especially with rolling admissions schools where aid is often awarded first-come, first-served. You’ll also need to file taxes and prepare documentation ASAP.
Beware that the tuition cost listed on private school websites might not represent the full financial obligation of attendance. Schools commonly have additional fees for uniforms, books, meal plans, transportation, after-school care, etc. For example, tuition listed at $40,000 may ultimately cost $43,000 after calculating all fees.
When it comes to making private school education affordable, there are different ways to slice the pie. A combination of the following options may be the right answer for your family.
These grants are awarded to students based on need and the school’s overall financial aid budget. They are not loans and thus don’t require repayment. Financial aid awards are always made independent of admission decisions, but the application timelines are similar so families have everything needed to make enrollment choices.
Often referred to as merit aid, scholarships are available at many schools to deserving students for academic, athletic, or community achievements. Unlike financial aid, a family’s financial need typically isn’t factored into scholarship awards.
Parents can apply for education loans for their children where the funds are disbursed directly to the school.
Private schools typically offer tuition payment plans enabling families to spread out payments into monthly installments; however, you may incur additional fees with this option.
529 Plans are tax-advantaged investment accounts to save for educational expenses. Traditionally intended for college tuition, recent tax reforms enable families to disperse up to $10,000 from 529 accounts to pay for private school tuition. Please note: Regulations vary by state, so it's crucial to check with your accountant before pursuing this option.
The following represents a general outline of the financial aid process for schools with fixed deadlines. Please check with the schools your family is applying to for their specific deadlines.
Private schools typically request the following documentation from families applying for financial aid.