Private School Tuition, Financial Aid, Endowments, donations...etc...

Updated on September 25, 2011
C.S. asks from Dayton, OH
9 answers

can you point me to any good websites for parents? we are in a private school that keeps asking for donations. we paid our full tuition and gave them a big donation for a special project, but i am not willing to do it constantly and several parents flat out are not giving anymore because it is like a bottomless hole. the more they are given, the more they give away, then the bills go up, and they have more begging and furndraisers. they even have a credit card that they don't pay off every month which i totally disagree with.

last night one of the moms was trying to recruit new students by telling other parents at football how this school gave her so much financial aid that it costs her less than afterschool daycare. she got 85% off. i don't mind them giving financial aid but this woman only chose this school because it was so cheap to her. they have money for sports, a big tv, two vehicles, etc.... i want to get advice on how the schools determine financial need, on how they can get money besides begging the parents to give more, and endowments. thanks.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

More Answers



answers from Boca Raton on

My kids were in private schools for years - it's definitely a bottomless pit. And sometimes you feel that if you don't donate, your children might pay the price indirectly (i.e., not get picked for awards, sports teams, etc.).

If you're committed to the school then I would try to get involved in a leadership position. That way you can influence the decision making, have some input, etc.

Private schools are hurting terribly in this economy, so you might have more "leverage" than you think (to effect change). And I would bet that you are not the only parent feeling that way.

We homeschool now, and it's a great feeling to use those tuition dollars in a much more efficient and effective way (and it doesn't cost nearly as much). Just think - that is "after-tax" money!

Good luck and I wish you the best.

PS: I would bring up that mom's story to the headmaster or principal and ask if it's true, and if so - why are they always asking for money?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Our kids are in a private school and at least in our school, tuition only covers about 80% of the total operating costs of the school.
We also have kids there on scholarship, but it is NOT 85%! They also have to take an admission test (every child does after a certain grade level) because it is a college prep school. So they have to be able to cut it academically especially if they are getting scholarship money.
I agree with the other post about taking that story to the headmaster. IF that is what the woman is telling, they need to be aware of it. I also agree that if you time permits, get involved and ask questions. That way you will know what is really going on at the school.

As far as how schools can get money, it's my understanding that schools can apply for grants for certain things if they show that they have so much percentage of parent participation. So even if it is just an extra $10 (seriously that little) to the annual fund, they can show parent participation. While I completely agree and have been a HUGE advocate for my friends who can only give their time, or choose to just give time instead of extra money, unfortunately it's not always seen that way.
We also 'cracked down' a few years ago on fundraising or 'giving away' as you said money. I'm not sure what you mean by that, but most private schools are non-forprofit and it doesn't look good for one charity to raise money for another charity when the first one still has needs.

Good Luck

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

The problem is small elementary schools don't have the funding to check into finances. They ask for a set of documents and accept them as the truth. The other part depends on who sponsors the school. Like my older two went to our parish school. There were two couples in the parish who apparently multiplied as a hobby. So they only had to pay full price for the first kid, discounted for second and third and the rest were free. So they had six kids in the school at the same time but it still takes the same to educate each of them.

When my kids went there it was around 2,300 a year for both but it cost well over 10,000 a year to educate both. Thing is if they price it at cost no one can afford to go so they use other parish donations to pay the difference or fundraisers.

So I guess I am saying I don't really know the criteria your school uses but I can assure you that you are paying a discounted rate as well. If you want an idea of how much find out how much your public school uses to educate a child your child's age.

Oh another odd thing is some got discounts just because they asked for them. Like you could be making $150,000 a year but go to the pastor and say they can't afford the tuition right now and they wouldn't have to pay. It is a strange thing, kinda goes by the honor system. Towards the end they really got hard core on everyone so I assume a lot of people were exaggerating their needs.

I did want to add when you get to the high school level things change. First the tuition goes way up as do the costs but because alums give back there are more scholarships but they are administered in the same way as colleges do.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I sure don't have an easy answer for this. My husband wants to send our daughter to a private school if we don't choose to homeschool through to the end. But I am in no wise willing for our hard earned dollars to go there. I feel that the cost of private school should be going towards college education. I don't even know how to come up with the money he wants us to spend. He wants for us to each come up with half however we have to. Well I did some figuring.. This will enlighten some people that are considering all options...

The cost of many community colleges is only about 3000 per year, 4000 with books. The cost of MANY private schools is about the same. So let's say we spend 3000 times 4 years of highschool. That's 12,000 that could have paid for at least an associates degree for them.

Now anyone can take CLEP exams at any time and many community colleges take 30 credits of CLEP. That means, that for the cost of about 1100 for CLEP exams, a child can then only have one more year of school. So, for the same 12,000 dollars of private highschool, a child could take CLEP exams and then do a year of comminity college and spend around 5500 total with books. AND, there's no minimum age. So my 11 year old daughter and I are working towards getting her ready to start taking CLEP exams. We will start with the history and Language subjects at first because those are the easiest. We will then have her take the GED and she can be in 1/2 time College classes just as soon as she gets her GED. I think that may be 16. But I'm going to try for 15 if we can get permission. By the time she would graduate from highschool she'll already have an associates degree.

Anyway, sorry I don't have an answer for ways to get money outside of parents. I say if you really believe in that type of education, dig deep. Come up with every dime you can and contact local businesses. Begging money is all there is.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I think if you became very involved with all the parent and staff meetings, you will eventually learn who pulls the purse strings.

We left a private school over very similar financial problems. There was one woman who coerced all others to abide by her choices.

Even if you find out who is in charge, you still have a choice to make. Is the education worth it? All schools use multiple marketing and fundraising tools. For instance, some people only like to give if they get something in return, i.e. the gift wrap and candy selling fundraiser; some people like a party, therefore the auction fundraiser, some people don't have time, therefore the direct letter approach. YOU and your family do not have to give to every request that comes home. Plan your budget, make up your mind what you want to support, stick to it and feel comfortable and confident with what you chose.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

My son goes to a private school - and they are ALWAYS asking for extra stuff, like "a local author is coming to visit, support her by buying her books" or we need to paint our school bus, or we need new paint in the gym"
Honestly, I just don't contribute. I can't, at the end of the month we barely have enough to survive, my son has never been treated any differently because I don't. Now when I have time, I volunteer my time, and that I feel is more valuable.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Do you have a parent's group or PTA at the school? Maybe if this group met and took their concerns to the board that governs the school and the leadership (principal or headmaster) you could voice your concerns. The example you gave of the lady with 85% off tuition would make me mad too, especially since she is trying to recruit others to "her deal". It may be, based on the school criteria, that she did qualify for that level of financial aid. Maybe they need to reevaluate the criteria. Several of the private schools here require that parents participate in the fundraisers or make an additional cash contribution to the school.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tulsa on

If the school is part of a church and a denomination, they probally would support it and have people donating. If it is an independent school, maybe they could ask local churches for sponsorships. The average cost of tuition is ___ so they donate __ and provide scholarships for __ students.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions