Affording A Private School Education
Photo Courtesy of The Episcopal School of Dallas
As a parent or guardian considering a private education for your child, you have many things to consider. Arguably the first of which is, “Can we afford a private school?”
Approach your search for a private school like any other long term investment you consider. It is, for many, an investment that comes with some level of sacrifice – perhaps sacrifice in the type of vacation your family takes, a club membership or a new car purchase.
Before you rule any school out of your search because of tuition, we suggest you ask questions and explore all of your options. This guide will empower you to begin that process. You may be surprised to learn that private school is actually within financial reach and can be made affordable for families of all income levels.
Top 5 Ways To Afford a Private School Education: Tips to Make Your Dream a Reality.
- Deep-dive into your personal finances. Review your cash flow statement.
Running a household is like being a small business owner, and in business, a cash flow statement is critical. Your personal life is no different. A quick google for “cash flow statement for personal finance” will provide a helpful worksheet. Or use the one provided by The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)
Assess your remaining monthly income after necessary expenses. Consider how much of the remaining income you want to spend on fun or luxuries your family enjoys, and how much you will need to save for retirement. As Forbes Columnist Mark Avallone points out, “If you can save, and meet your retirement goal, you can afford a private education.”
- Payment plans are an option, and they aren’t uncommon. Put your pride to the side.
Some families are unable to come up with the entire tuition at the start of the school year, but they can afford installments. Ask the school’s Admission Office what options are available. Many schools can accommodate bi-annual or monthly tuition payments. Don’t be embarrassed to ask. Many families whose children attend private school benefit from some variation of a payment plan.
- Have Grandparents consider legacy gifts. Contributions may be excluded from the gift tax.
A 2013 NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) survey revealed that 8-16 percent of families fund their child’s education with financial gifts from grandparents. And depending on the amount of the gift, grandparents can benefit from being excluded from filing a gift tax return when tuition is paid directly to the school. Check with your tax preparer for more details.
- Tuition assistance is available…but you have to ask, and apply. You may be surprised by your options.
Nearly 25 percent, or one in four, of all NAIS students receive some form of financial assistance, be it financial aid, merit awards or scholarships. Don’t assume that you make too much to qualify, and don’t assume that you don’t make enough to be able to cover the difference after aid is awarded. Financial aid is an important tool for private schools as it allows schools to attract and admit a talented and diverse student body. You may be surprised by all the options that are available. Most private schools offer financial assistance or flexible financing programs. Many will work with families on an individualized basis when that family has unique circumstances. It is very important to keep the lines of communication open with the appropriate school personnel. Your private financial matters will be kept in strict confidence, but full transparency is paramount in order for the school to be able to assist you to the best of their ability.
- Education loans aren’t limited to college tuition. Investing today may deflect costs later.
Financial institutions offer loans for private K-12 education. When doing your homework, watch out for institutions with early repayment penalties. You don’t want to be punished if you find additional resources to pay off the loan. Also, consider college acceptances and merit scholarships awarded by your school of choice. Investing in K-12 education now, may deflect college costs later.
This article is courtesy of The Episcopal School of Dallas.
About the Author:
Ruth Burke is the Assistant Head of School at The Episcopal School of Dallas, overseeing Enrollment, Development, Alumni Relations, Communications, and the Strategic Plan.
Ruth’s experience in independent school administration spans 28 years, at three nationally-recognized schools, in the roles of administrator, teacher, coach, advisor, and dean. She has also served as conference chair for the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest (ISAS) Admission Conference and lead numerous panel discussions and seminars for the Secondary School Admission Test Board (SSATB), National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), and ISAS.
From 2009-2012, Ruth taught four-day seminars for Independent School Management (ISM), leading admission professionals from across the country in the application of best practices and admission trends.
Burke earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Masters in School Administration from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania
Avallone, Mark. “Back to Private School, but Can You Really Afford the Pricey Tuition?” Forbes Online. 20 Aug. 2015. Web. 9 Dec. 2016
Burke, Ruth. “Applying to and Affording Private Schools: Demystifying the Admission Process.” Presentation (2010).
Kennedy, Robert. “Paying for Private School: 7 Options.” Private School Review Online. 26 May 2016. Web. 9 Dec. 2016.
Mitchell, Mark. “To Afford Private School, High-Income Families Make Lifestyle Tradeoffs.” National Association of Independent Schools Online. 30 Jan. 2015. Web. 9 Dec. 2016.
National Association of Independent Schools. School and Student Services by NAIS. NAIS, 2013. Web. 24 Jan. 2016.
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