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.

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. “As a values-based community, we are working to continuously make school more affordable. We would never want a student who would flourish here and benefit greatly from the school to not be able to attend because of the financial commitment required,” explains Rebecca De Silva, Associate Director of Admissions.

As such, one of the three pillars of the TCS 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 and something the school wants families to be aware of. “We don’t want people cancelling themselves out before looking into the options that are available to them,” says De Silva. Unlike 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 and the school is able to award over $3.5 million dollars in bursaries each year.

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. Needs-based bursaries make up approximately 90% of the school’s financial assistance budget. Any family who feels they are unable to afford the full cost of tuition is encouraged to indicate their wish to explore financial assistance on either their online application or the online inquiry form. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be provided with a financial review by Financial Aid for School Tuition (FAST) from Independent School Management (ISM) which is required if you’re to be considered for one of these bursaries.

“Our bursary awards are typically capped at 50% of the annual tuition for both Senior School and Junior School students,” says De Silva.

Scholarships 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’s also an award for Quebec Francophone students, the Caroline Chagnon Memorial Bursary, awarded to students who come to TCS for Grades 11 and 12 in lieu of going to CEGEP. “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 recently 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. More recently the school added The Hunter and Cirne Scholarships for two promising Canadian day students who reside in Durham Region, Peterborough, or Northumberland County.

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.”

The first step for families interested in TCS and looking for financial assistance is to visit the Affording TCS page on the school’s website or families can sign up for one of the virtual open houses specifically focused on their financial assistance programs.

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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