Financial Aid for Private Elementary School.

Updated on April 24, 2013
R.F. asks from Keller, TX
13 answers

Good morning. I am interested in signing my second grader up for private school next year but the cost in Texas is astronomical! Financially we make a decent living but we are very careful with our money and since I have two children, putting them both in private school without some sort of financial assistant won't work. Have any of you fellow Mamas applied for financial aid? What do schools take into consideration? Any advice or information is appreciated.

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answers from St. Louis on

Parish based schools 'sometimes' give financial aid to parishioners who attend their schools.

Other than that, no, there are no government grants for private schools.

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answers from Albany on

The private (Catholic) school my kids went to had some help available to low income families. There was a certain number of required hours of volunteering/involvement required for each level of aid. There was also "performance" requirements from the student.

Why not just contact the school and ask?


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answers from Boston on

I taught in 2 private schools - they had scholarship programs funded by their big donors for just this sort of situation. Otherwise you can look into tuition payment plans similar to what people use for college financing. You'll have to submit income verification info but, in addition to income and assets, they take into consideration extraordinary expenses (e.g. medical) and other children. They know a 2nd child costs money, but they also may want to get both your children in school, since siblings tend to stay in the school. That's an advantage because private schools spend money for recruitment and marketing, and families with more than one child provide an automatic "feeder" supply of kids.

They are inundated with applications from people who want the benefits of private school without the price tag, so you can expect that they will take you beyond just a "statement of need" and require plenty of documentation.

Aid will also vary based on whether there is a waiting list of people who want to enroll their kids, or whether they are really trying to increase their enrollment to make the school look desirable. For example, if there are very few kids in the 2nd grade and they want a few more, they may offer financial incentives more readily. However, if they are overwhelmed with applications, they may not need to extend much aid.

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answers from Dallas on

I know quite a few people in our area get a discount on their tuition by "volunteering" at the school. Their hours are tracked similar to an employee to get the discount. I am not certain how large the discount is.

And my understanding is that financial aid for private school is very similar to that of college. You put in all the data and see what happens. They look at income and expenses. Family size is considered too.

I know of one friend who qualified for financial aid. He husband is a teacher and she is a stay at home mom. Although it helps, she says the cost is still pretty astronomical for her.

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answers from Dallas on

I used to work in a private school in the admissions department, so I very well understand this. Each school has their own financial aid budget so that they can attract very bright or very talented kids that otherwise cannot afford the superior education. Most private schools in this area of Texas use a company that determines your need based on family size, income and debts. There were families that made in the 200K per year range at my school that received at least some sort of aid. I would suggest asking the admissions office for information and apply. The very worst that happens is they say no. If your child is accepted, and you receive aid the first year, usually their financial aid goes first to existing families on financial aid, so subsequent years are nowhere near as emotionally draining.

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answers from Miami on

Just an idea...or at least what is commonly done here in public education in elementary and then a switch to private for middle. We have lots of really great elementary schools but the middle schools can be pretty iffy. You can save a ton while your children are in elementary and use the money for later...


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answers from Miami on

I second Christine's recommendation.

Please keep in mind (as a private school kid) that once you commit to a private education, you are essentially committing until graduation. Many people will have their children do elementary school in public schools and then transfer in 6th grade.

Financial aid in private schools come in two forms:
1. Need-based aid: You complete a financial profile. They will look at two years worth of tax returns as well as having you complete a "monthly expenditure" report. That information is entered into their algorithm and you either qualify or you do not.
2. Merit-based aide: You apply for a scholarship through the school itself. Many private schools have merit scholarships for students who are extremely bright and/or talented and who could not otherwise attend.

Keep in mind that aide is not "granted" for the tenure of your child's attendance. You apply annually. If either of you gets a bonus or you have a major expense cut-out, you can be disqualified.

Good luck!

For what it's worth, I am on my way this afternoon to interview for a position at the school I attended K-12. I would love for my children to attend, but our income is high enough that we do not qualify for aide and as a Kindergarten student there are no merit-based scholarships available. The only way we can swing it for our two is to have the 60% tuition remission... the tuition is $20,000 for Kindergarten and goes up from there. It's a fortune and if we can't do it, they will go to Parochial school!

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answers from Jacksonville on

We never applied for it when our kids were in private school, but I know some who did and received it. It is a lot like any sort of financial transaction that involves your income and credit-worthyness. Tax returns. Payroll info. Etc.

The best thing to do is call and ask, like Theresa mentioned. My concern with such things is what happens if you qualify this time, but don't next year... and you can't afford it without the financial aid? Are you prepared to send your kids elsewhere and be school hopping? Just something to consider. Particularly in what could be a border-line situation, where one small change in their Financial Aid/Scholarship funds/requirements makes your children ineligible or reduced so much that you can't make up the difference.

I'm not saying don't pursue it--far from it. Private education can be wonderful and well worth it. I'm just saying be prepared (regardless of whether your kids qualify for the scholarship funds) that next year things might be different and consider if you would be ok with your kids changing schools at that time.

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answers from Minneapolis on

The private school to which we applied, uses a company that has you just enter your financial data into an online program. They asked about assets and debts and income and expenses. We had to enter recent tax statements. It was pretty thorough. It is a good idea to apply for the financial aid even if you are unsure what the "cut-off" will be. They have formulas for calculating what percentage of income people can generally pay for school.

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answers from Dallas on

I have found that the school itself is a great resource in understanding their financial aid offerings. Plus, your child has to test into many of them (I've poked around for my boys, too). So first thing is first, pay the $75 - $150 testing fee and see if your child is academically 'acceptable' (you can use the test results at other private schools who use them - you don't have to get her re-tested every application) then once you have her test scores that could help considerably with your application if she is really bright per the test you can also make the case that public school is not helping her meet her academic potential, yada, yada.
Good luck!

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answers from San Francisco on

My kids have been in private school since kinder. Now that my oldest is going to high school we had to apply for aid because the tuition increase is significant. We both work and make a good living (teachers) but cost of living here is insane. My husband spent a great deal of time filling out applications for aid, including explaining extenuating circumstances (care for elderly parents, special diet) and my son applied for a merit scholarship. We received financial aid that requires my son to volunteer at fundraising events and my son also received a merit scholarship that is for four years as long as he keeps his grades up. It was a lot of work to apply, but for us it made a huge difference. Good luck to you.



answers from Houston on

Not that this will help you, but the Texas Senate is trying to pass Bill 23 as we speak, our version of a voucher program where funds from the "non education" column of the state budget will be channelled to fund low income students from public schools so they'll be able to afford and attend private schools and receive lunches. I'm sure that'll make any middle income household feel just dandy!



answers from Chicago on

It's fairly common for families to apply for financial aid even with a decent salary once there are siblings at the school. Ask about the percentage of families who receive financial aid and the average amount of aid. I don't believe any families at our school are ever denied aid, and the average package is 50%. Still, the expectation is that parents will still be contributing. Keep in mind that any financial aid probably covers tuition and fees. You'll be responsible for extracurricular fees, uniforms and after care, if you need it.

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