Focusing on affordability in private education

Trinity College School’s financial assistance program

“Every year, we hear students and families describing the TCS experience as invaluable,” says Kathy LaBranche, Executive Director of Strategic Enrolment Management at Trinity College School, in Port Hope, Ontario. “However, we’re aware that many families feel the financial commitment is beyond their capabilities. We want to give more families the opportunity to attend our school.” This articulates one of the core values of TCS: making a first-rate education accessible.

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Financial assistance and accessibility

One of the primary motivations for financial assistance programs is to make private education inclusive, to make it available to a broad scope of families, many of whom wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it.

TCS is a consummate example of this principle. One of the three pillars of its strategic plan is to make the school more accessible. “We aim to make TCS available to a diverse range of families,” says LaBranche. “We want families with varying socio-economic backgrounds at our school—families from different places and walks of life.” 

This is good news for prospective TCS students. Unlike at many other schools, anyone at any grade level can apply for financial assistance at TCS, including day students, Canadian boarders, and international boarders—regardless of their financial situation. What’s more, approximately 32% of students receive tuition assistance.

Each year TCS gives out over $3.5 million of financial assistance in the form of needs-based bursaries and merit-based scholarships. And the money allotted, on average, is nothing to sneeze at. Remarkably, bursaries can cover up to a maximum of 50% of fees, with TCS aiming to increase this to 75% over the next several years. 

Bursaries and scholarships

We're very fortunate to be in the position of having a 155-year legacy of students having lived the TCS experience and feeling a deep connection to the school,” says LaBranche. “Because of their life-altering experience, many of our alumni want to give back. This has led to one of the largest endowments in the country.” 

The top philanthropic motivator for alumni is to help people who wouldn’t be able to afford the school in ordinary circumstances. The lion’s share of the financial assistance budget, for this reason, goes to the school’s bursary program.

Scholarships, however, are an emerging area of growth, and a unique feature of TCS’s financial assistance program. The school has five unique scholarships available to students, with more on the way. These scholarships cover 100% of school fees and sometimes extra costs like travel education opportunities. 

For instance, “Our premier scholarship program is called the Cirne National Scholarship,” says LaBranche. “Lew Cirne, class of 1989, generously made a substantial donation to the school so that we can provide a full boarding scholarship to an incoming Grade 9 Canadian boarding student for each new school year. There are four scholarships, each of which covers full costs from Grade 9 to 12.”

There’s also an award for Quebec Francophone students, the Caroline Chagnon Memorial Bursary, established in honour of a TCS alumna who died far too young. “This scholarship is for students who come to TCS for Grades 11 and 12 in lieu of going to CEGEP,” says LaBranche. “We have two of these awards, offered annually, and they cover all the regular fees plus travel and other extra expenses like laptops.” 

“Another opportunity we’ve introduced this year is the Indigenous National Scholarship Program providing one to four scholarships,” says LaBranche. “Any Canadian with Indigenous heritage can apply for it.” These scholarships cover all fees plus travel. The first recipient will start this September.

Through generous scholarships like these and its exceptional bursary program, TCS provides the kind of robust financial assistance that enables it to achieve one of its core aims—increasing its diversity. “By making our school available to more types of families, we’re able to provide an inclusive community with people from all sorts of backgrounds,” says LaBranche. “We believe this is one of the things that makes TCS so special.” 

To learn more about Trinity College School, including their financial assistance program, read their book-length Feature Review.

To learn about Trinity College Schools' focus on well-being and belonging, click here.

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