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Funding a Private School Education

Find out how to fund your child's private school education, including education scholarships, financial aid option, school vouchers, education tax credits and K-12 student loans. Paying for private school doesn't have to break the bank!

Your Child + Private School Education = $$$$. This simple equation sums up the statistic that a private school education costs thousands of dollars per year. Want to erase a few of those dollar signs? Scholarships, vouchers, tax credits, company benefits and/or loans can help cover the cost.

Introductory facts:

  • Private school cost per year can range from tuition-free to $35,000+ for a boarding school.
  • In 2006 over 6 million students are expected to attend private school.
  • The nationwide average tuition for elementary private schools in 2000 was $3,267.
  • Most private schools offer some form of financial aid. Typically 8 to 10 percent of a private school’s budget is reserved for financial aid and around 17 percent of students receive financial aid from the individual schools.

In researching financial aid options, first ask the school. Many have in-house scholarship programs and have individual forms and/or requirements that need to be met; a good place to start is the school’s website. Over 2400 private schools work with the NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) and require a Parents’ Financial Statement (PFS) to help determine financial need.

Vouchers are sometimes referred to as scholarships but in detail, “the educational opportunity voucher is a system of public education funding where a designated amount of money follows the child. These funds can be applied toward an education in a public or private school of their parent’s choice.” Vouchers are almost constantly debated in governmental circles and to date only Minnesota, Ohio, Utah, Florida, and Washington D.C. have voucher systems with varying degrees of availability. For example, the Utah voucher is available to children with disabilities while the Minnesota vouchers available in Milwaukee are more universal.

The voucher system:

  • Typically states determine how much money will be spent on education per year per child. This obviously varies from state to state and in 2002--2003 the average was $8,019.
  • The voucher amount is usually set well below the state limit.
  • The voucher can be spent in almost any private school of choice.
  • Voucher programs impose admissions regulations on the private school.

Voucher advocates call for more school choice and strongly believe that vouchers are the answer. The opposition believes that vouchers take money away from the public school system but proponents counter with examples in Milwaukee and Cleveland where per pupil spending has increased due to the voucher programs in place.

Tax credits are similar to vouchers but instead of using the state funding, private individuals donate to specific organizations who then turnaround and award scholarships to students. Those who donate receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit. Corporate tax credits work in a similar way, but only receive a partial tax credit. Another funding venue to explore is corporate benefits. Some corporations offer tuition breaks for family members for private school education--always ask.

A loan is another financial option but must be paid back within a certain amount of time and in most cases, accrues interest. Many intuitions offer private school loans that are similar to college loans. Research many financial institutions before making a decision and ask the private school for suggestions as to what kinds of loans have been used in the past.

Loans, corporate benefits, tax credits, vouchers and scholarships can all ease the financial burden of a private school education. And in effect, will = less $$$$.