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Private schools with financial aid

Finding loans, tuition relief and scholarships

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Parents of children attending a private school may require financial aid to fund their children's education. When you are paying at least $5,000 for tuition or up to $40,000 for boarding school, you should look into all your options. Banks are willing to offer personal loans or credit extensions but going to the bank does not have to be parents' first choice.

Many schools will offer help to parents that may come in the form of a loan or it may be straight tuition relief - tuition reduction that comes from a fund set up for just that reason. If you have already applied to a private school and are just now looking this resource should help you gain a more comprehensive understanding of what the application process entails.

Below are a list of questions (and answers) that will help parents navigate the concerns they may have.

Our Kids Go to School offers listings of private schools offering financial aid, below.

Why do schools offer aid?   

The commonly held belief that private schools are only for the well off simply isn't accurate. Private schools are not always the right choice for children of high-income families, and may be the right fit for children of low-income families. In order for schools to provide high-quality education to the best students it is necessary to reach deserving students who may not be so fortunate to be born into money.

When choosing a private school parents and educators really need to look at the individual child, their interests, abilities, goals, academic ability and interest in service and community participation. These are only some of the many factors that come in to play when making a choice about a private education in Canada.

How much of tuition does aid cover?

In some instances, it could cover the entire cost of tuition. However, this is a rare exception, and most schools will offer partial financial aid to help cover tuition costs.

According to Canadian Accredited Independent Schools, more than 6,700 private school students received a total of $53.1-million in assistance in 2011-12. The average amount of assistance awarded to individual students was $9,318 in 2011-12, up from $8,771 in the previous academic year.

How do schools determine who receives aid?

Ultimately, the final decision about what students gets assistance and how much they received is left to each school’s financial aid committee. However, most schools use Apple Financial Services to help analyze applications, offering recommendations to each school about which students should get assistance, and how much. These recommendations are based on the household financial information provided by the family in their confidential application.

Each year parent’s must request support annually and a Parents' Financial Statement (PFS) must be completed. Financial Aid for Canadian Students reviews each PFS based on procedure guidelines of each individual school. The common thread among private schools is that parents should pay for their child’s education to the extent they can afford to.

Parents will be required to provide a comprehensive look at their situation in order to be properly assessed. This will include bank statements, investment details, a list of assets and their value, tax records and household expenses, among other things.

Each school you’ve selected will be sent a copy of the PFS, along with an analysis of the application. You only need to complete a single application for multiple children for one or more schools. A limited number of people will have access to the application for analysis in order to protect your personal information and confidentiality.

How does the third-party determine what applicants to recommend for financial aid?

Using a formula and guidelines and criteria set by the private school, Apple Financial Services makes recommendations to each private school it works with on which students should be given financial aid, and how much.

However, the committee at the school makes the final decision and it may not necessarily reflect the recommendations made by Apple Financial Services. 

What if I have other children in private schools?

If you’re worried that one child will receive less than the other children you have attending private school, don’t: assistance is determined on a student-by-student basis. Analysis of the application will take into consideration the fact more than one student is seeking financial aid.

If you have a second or even third child in private school, you may qualify for a tuition credit for enrolling more than one child, especially if the private school is faith-based. Be sure to ask the schools you are applying to if this kind of discount is available.

Will applying for financial aid hurt my child's chances of admissions?

Students are accepted to private schools based on their own merit, whether they are a fit with the school and meet the academic or extracurricular criteria. Applying will not help or hamper a student's chances of being accepted.

However, there are instances, albeit more rare than not, where students may not get access if a school only has so much money to dole out, and has to make difficult decisions about which students should be awarded money. But the positive is this: it's rare. Some schools end up with money leftover for the year because the departments didn't recieve enough applications to distribute all the alloted funds.

That said, never think you shouldn't apply because there is money available and submitting an application doesn't hurt. You may be surprised.

How many schools offer financial aid?

Of the some 300 schools on our website listings, 73 schools offer some form of financial aid. The most established schools will tend to have a variety of options available, while newer school may be on the cusp of offering scholarships and bursaries and other support options.

While less than 30 per cent of schools on OurKids.net offer monetary support, don’t let it discourage you from applying. These schools offer a number of scholarships, bursaries and grants that could help make your private school dreams become a reality.

How many students are on financial aid?

According to the Canadian Accredited Independent Schools (CAIS), more than 6,000 students attending over 90 schools receive some form of assistance every year. In 2011-2012, CAIS schools doled out over $53 million. The organization also indicates the number of students and the average amount has increase annually over the last three years.

For example, 60 per cent of students at Rothesay Netherwood School in New Brunswick received money in order to attend the school. Indeed, these numbers don't represent all private schools in Canada, but it gives you an indication that financial aid is far more common than one may think and is available for anyone who may need it.

Do I have to renew my request for aid each year?

Yes, you do. A new application must be submitted every year as your financial situation could change and affect the overall amount of money awarded.

Where does the money for financial aid come from?

Financial aid comes from a variety of sources for schools that offer it. From money set aside annually from revenues that come in, to money donated by alumni, companies and educational foundations, schools are always looking for ways to help students. 

In an effort to attract the best and brightest, which aren't always from upper-class families, schools are always looking to grow the number of students receiving aid and the average amount, or to just begin offering it.

Attend information seminars, including scholarships and tax breaks, at any of the Private School Expos every fall. These one day events are a must for any parent or student considering an alternative education.

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