But today, families wanting their child to enjoy a private school education have more options than ever.
Over the years, more and more of Canada's independent schools have been working to accommodate talented and qualified students of all socio-economic backgrounds.
Tuition is the largest financial hurdle for families paying for an independent school education, but other costs mount up as well. Except for the registration fee, all of the items listed are annual costs. Some schools may include them in the cost of tuition, while others may not. No actual costs are listed because they vary so much from school to school:
- Extra class supplies (for science experiments or art projects)
- Pocket money
- Registration fee
- Laptop computer
Before parents begin searching for funding sources, they should evaluate their financial situation, noting annual income and expenditures, tuition and other costs, future expenses (the cost of sending a second or third child to school) and their own ability to raise extra funds.
Awards based on merit are called scholarships, and are offered by schools to students who have excelled in one or more areas, including academics, community involvement, leadership, music, art and athletics. Some scholarships are geared toward certain groups: girls, for instance, or members of a specific religion.
Scholarships are split into two categories: entrance scholarships, for students beginning their first year at a school, and non-entrance, for those already enrolled.
Families looking for scholarships must plan well ahead to ensure their child is achieving the best grades possible, while also developing other talents.
Bursaries are awarded to students who demonstrate financial need. Families interested in a specific school should contact its admissions department or Web site to learn what's available.
When applying for a bursary, parents will need to provide information about assets, liabilities, income, hen evaluate the application and determine if and how much to award.
While many bursaries require parents to apply, some schools automatically award bursaries to new students. As well, many schools offer bursaries to current students.
Searching and applying for funding can take as much work as finding the right school, so parents should begin at least a year before the fall their child is to start. This allows for lots of time to assess options and apply before the usual March/April deadlines.
Parents can look for financial and admission information on a school's Web site, then set up an appointment with the admissions officer, who will explain where to go from there.
OurKids.net offers a comprehensive list of private schools with financial aid programs.