How to pay for private school

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Want to send your child to private school but worried about the cost? Overcome seemingly impossible financial hurdles by following our tips for covering private school costs.

Private schools are largely viewed as only being available to a privileged few. However, this is a common misconception. In 2001, Statistics Canada found that almost 30 percent of children in private schools came from families with incomes of $50,000 or less, and other studies found that 85 percent of private school students come from lower to middle class families. Let us show you the plethora of options that make private school costs affordable for families from a range of socio-economic backgrounds.

Economic private school choices

Private school tuition ranges from around $4,000 a year to $40,000. Research different private schools and their costs until you find one that fits your budget and is a good fit for your child and family as a whole. Further, many schools are happy to accommodate families with flexible payment plans, so don't be afraid to approach them for creative solutions!

Family savings plan

Work private school costs, including tuition, uniform fees and transportation costs, into the family budget and start planning ahead. Seek budgeting help from a financial planner if necessary. Also consider expenses such as the separate cost of extracurricular activities that you may be saving by sending your child to private school. Be prepared to make sacrifices as a family and get your child or children involved by funneling money from part-time jobs to a private school savings account. Get extended family members (e.g., grandparents) to pay if possible. A tax-free savings account is a good place to shore up funds.

Scholarships and bursaries

According to Anne-Marie Kee, executive director of the Canadian Accredited Independent Schools (CAIS), each year millions of financial aid dollars are distributed to families in an effort to attract the best and brightest. Carefully investigate your options, keeping in mind that larger, more established schools are most likely to provide financial aid. Find out what's available, from partial to full funding, and what the requirements are – e.g., academic excellence, community service or special talents. Then gather needed documents, such as tax forms, income statements and lists of assets, well before financial aid deadlines.

In your scholarship search don't overlook corporate funding from your employer, or community organization or government funding sources. For instance, you may be eligible for certain government tax breaks, including breaks for special needs students.

Also see: Canada Revenue Agency's Canada child tax benefit and Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services Ontario Child Benefit.

Check out our scholarship finder here: /financial-aid/ You also read our guide to preschool costs and special needs school costs.

More About Private School Options

Once you have determined workable ways to pay for private school, the next step is making a choice. Types of private schools range from boarding to day schools, Montessori to faith-based schools, to gifted schools with and programs to schools for children with special needs. Learn more about private school options and how to choose among them.

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