Private schools aren’t cheap, but they don’t have to bankrupt the family. You can finance your child’s education with financial aid for private schools. The best source of information on financial aid will, of course, be your institution’s financial aid officer. He or she will review with you your funding options, and help devise a plan that is just right for you.
Financial aid for private schools generally comes in three forms: grants, loans, and merit awards.
The first type of financial aid for private schools is grants. Grants do not need to be repaid and can be used to offset high tuition costs. Most schools make grants to low-income families, with money that comes from the school’s own budget. To determine your family’s eligibility, the financial aid officer will have you fill out the Parents’ Financial Statement (PFS) or some other method of objectively determining the family’s ability to pay. Aid amount is determined by the school, and it can vary considerably. Some schools, in a quest to diversify the student body, will be very generous; others will be less so. Often, the amount of grant money available is determined by the size of the school’s endowment versus it’s the average student’s tuition and housing costs.
The second type of financial aid for private schools comes in the form of loans. Families needing more assistance than the school can give may want to resort to loans. Loans are directly related to a person’s credit history, so bad credit will often keep a family from procuring a loan. A school’s financial aid officer will often have a list of credible banks with good loan programs, including banks willing to finance a family with bad to medium credit. Be aware of the terms under which the loan must be repaid though, and consult with the financial aid officer or some trusted person with a financial background to make sure you’re getting the best interest rate.
Merit awards (sometimes called ‘scholarships’) are based on some demonstrated talent. Merit awards are based on academic or artistic achievement, athletic prowess, or any number of other distinctions. Studies show that the average merit award is $3,500 a year, which can take a hefty chunk out of a family’s burden. If you have reason to think your child might qualify for a merit award, speak to your school’s financial aid officer. Be aware, however, that competition is keen for most merit awards, and that fewer than 5 percent of students enrolled in private school actually qualify for and receive a merit-based award.
These three kinds of financial aid for private schools are available to just about anyone. They just have to look for them.