Paying For Private School

You’ve made the decision to send your child to a private school. You’ve selected the schools that are the best fit, reviewed all the facts and figures and made your choice. Now the challenge is paying for your child’s education.

While private school can be expensive, there are a number of ways to pay-tuition payment plans, need based aid, merit based aid, scholarships and loans. It takes a little work but with some effort you can pay for the best education for your child.

Plan Ahead

The early bird gets the worm should be the mantra of any family who wants to send their child to a private school. The sooner you start planning to handle the cost of private school tuition the better off you’ll be.

Determine what is the cost to send your child to the school of your choice. Besides tuition find out what fees and other expenses such as books and transportation will cost for the year.

Become familiar with your school’s billing cycle. Usually private schools bill twice a year — early summer and late fall with payment due in 30 days. Generally the invoices cover half the year’s tuition, room and board plus fees. Some schools offer a five to 10 percent discount for a full year payment, be sure to ask.

Now that you know the costs, review your household budget to see how much money you can provide by saving or cutting expenses. For those who begin tuition planning very early, a Coverdell education savings plan, formerly the education IRA, might be a good option. Families may contribute up to $2,000 a year to the account and then withdraw the money tax-free to pay for qualifying education expenses at private elementary and secondary school.

Next research and review all sources of funding and learn the financial aid deadline for your school, which usually is in February. Some schools give out aid on a first come, first serve basis, so being prepared can make a difference.

Compile all the data and talk to your financial adviser and the school’s financial aid office to see which are your best options. Armed with the facts and figures plus some good advice you’ll be able to make the best choice for your family.
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Tuition Payment Plans

Can’t pay a lump sum for tuition but your budget can handle smaller monthly payments? Then a tuition payment plan might work for you. The plans typically split the year’s tuition into nine or 10 equal monthly payments and charge a flat yearly fee for the service. Payment plans are provided by outside services and sometimes by the schools themselves.

Private Student Loans

Some families decide to take out a private loan to help pay for private school. Families borrow money through their home equity account, bank or credit unions, educational loans, through the school or from family members. Make sure to consult your financial adviser and to search out all your loan options.

Need Based Aid

Think you make too much money to get financial aid? Don’t be too sure, over half the students in private schools are receiving some financial aid according the National Association of Independent Schools data.

Depending on their endowment, some private schools can offer a virtually free education if your family income is $75,000 or less. Even if you make more than that, almost every private school offers some form of financial aid to families. You will need to file an application for aid and usually a standardized form such as the Parent’s Financial Statement from the School and Student Services for Financial Aid. Make sure your know the deadlines. Financial aid may include work-study programs and discounts for families with more than on child attending the same private school.

Don’t be too discouraged if your aid application is turned down or you don’t get as much at you need. File an appeal with school spelling out exactly why you need the help. Make sure you have supporting data and most schools will be glad to discuss the situation with you.

Besides need based aid from the school itself, there are several national foundations that give aid to students based on need such as the Children’s Scholarship Fund for elementary students and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation for those in grades eight and up.

Merit Based Aid

In addition to need-based aid, many private schools offer scholarships based on a student’s talents or achievements in academics, athletics, Arts, etc. Merit based aid varies from school to school. Students may have to take a test, submit a project or complete an application to qualify. Make sure to get all the details from the school about the program including deadlines. Also find out if the merit scholarship is renewable.

Other Scholarships

Last but not least look around you community, the organizations you belong to and your employer to see if scholarships are available for your child’s private school education.

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