Making Private School Affordable to the Middle Class

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Private schools can seem out of reach for many families. Middle-class households in many U.S. cities are struggling with the cost of healthcare, education and other expenses on the rise. Simply paying for everyday living can be a challenge, and many middle-class families don't even consider the option of applying to private school due to the added cost. But, a private school education may be easier to achieve than they thought.

How? Check out these tips.

Tip #1: Apply for Financial Aid

Families who can not afford the full cost of private school can apply for financial aid. According to the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), for the 2015-2016 year, about 24% of students at private schools received financial assistance. That figure is even higher at boarding schools, with nearly 37% of students receiving financial aid. Nearly every school offers financial aid, and many schools are committed to meeting 100% of a family's demonstrated need. 

When they apply for aid, families will complete what is known as a Parent Financial Statement (PFS). This is done through the School and Student Services (SSS) by NAIS. SSS then uses the information you provide to generate a report that estimates the amount you can contribute to school experiences, and that report is what schools use to determine your demonstrated need.

 

Schools vary with regard to how much aid they can provide to help pay private school tuition; some schools with large endowments can provide larger aid packages, and they also consider the other children you have enrolled in private education. While families can not know in advance if the aid package provided by their schools will cover their costs, it never hurts to ask and to apply for financial aid to see what the schools can come up with.

Financial aid can make affording private school much more feasible. Some financial aid packages can even assist with travel, if you're applying to a boarding school, as well as school supplies and activities. 

Tip #2: Consider Free Schools & Schools that Offer Full Scholarships

Believe it or not, not every private school carries a tuition fee. That's right, there are some tuition-free schools across the country, as well as schools that offer full scholarships to families whose household income falls below a certain level. Free schools, such as Regis High School, a Jesuit boys' school in New York City, and schools that offer full scholarships to qualified families, such as Phillips Exeter, can help attending private school a reality for families who previously never believed such an education would be affordable.  

Tip #3: Consider Lower-Cost Schools

Many private schools have lower tuitions than the average independent school, making affording private school more accessible. For example, the Cristo Rey Network of 24 Catholic schools in 17 states and the District of Columbia offers a college-prep education at a lower cost than that charged by most Catholic schools. Many Catholic and parochial schools have lower tuitions than other private schools.

In addition, there are some boarding schools across the country with lower tuition rates. These schools make affording private school, and even boarding school, easier for middle-class families.

Tip #4: Get a Job (at a private school)

A little known benefit of working at a private school is that faculty and staff usually can send their children to the school for a reduced rate, a service known as tuition remission. And at some schools, tuition remission means a portion of the costs are covered, while at others, 100 percent of the costs are covered. Now, naturally, this tactic requires there to be a job opening and for you to be qualified as a top candidate who gets hired, but it is possible. Keep in mind, too, that teaching isn't the only job at private schools. From business office and fundraising roles to admission/recruiting and database management, even marketing and software development, the wide range of positions offered at private schools might surprise you.

So, if you know that your skills align with the needs of a private school and that you want to send your children there, you might consider dusting off your resume and applying for a job at private school

Updated by Stacy Jagodowski

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Grossberg, Blythe. "Making Private School Affordable to the Middle Class." ThoughtCo, Feb. 5, 2017, thoughtco.com/affordable-private-schools-for-middle-class-2774008. Grossberg, Blythe. (2017, February 5). Making Private School Affordable to the Middle Class. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/affordable-private-schools-for-middle-class-2774008 Grossberg, Blythe. "Making Private School Affordable to the Middle Class." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/affordable-private-schools-for-middle-class-2774008 (accessed November 23, 2017).