Private school tuition can be expensive, especially for families that are on a budget. However, a private school education is generally well worth the cost when you think of it as an investment in your child.
While this may make it easier to accept the cost, figuring out how to actually afford tuition payments on a budget can be challenging, to say the least.
10 Ways to Afford Private School Tuition
1. Get on a payment plan
Paying the entire year’s tuition in one go may be too much for you to handle considering your budget. One thing that you can do that may help make it easier to budget for private school is to request a payment plan.
Many private schools will allow you to get on a payment plan. On such a plan, you would be allowed to make several smaller payments instead of paying off one lump sum. When you’re on a monthly payment plan, it can make it a lot easier to budget accordingly for your other financial obligations and living expenses as well.
Here at Brook Road Academy, we offer several different payment plans to help families with their unique budgetary needs. In addition to being able to pay off a year’s tuition in one sum, you also have the ability to pay in two or four installments throughout the year.
2. Apply for financial aid
Not all families can afford tuition, which is why many private schools offer financial aid. One way that you can find financial aid is by working with GRASP (Great Aspirations Scholarship Program).
GRASP is a nonprofit program dedicated to helping students and families obtain funding for education. They will help assist you with the financial aid process and even award and administer scholarships.
For more information on how you can take advantage of GRASP, talk to our expert, Matthew Kreydatus, directly at 804-553-3224.
3. Take out a loan
Just like you can take out a loan for a new house or a new car, you can take out a loan for private school tuition. Generally speaking, the terms on a loan for school tuition will be a lot more favorable than car loans and mortgages, but it will depend greatly on your credit.
If you don’t have good credit, it may be difficult to qualify – and even if you do, you may end up having to pay a high-interest rate. The better your credit is, the lower your interest rate is likely to be.
You should also take a look at your finances and determine whether you’re willing to take on long-term debt. If you think you might be able to pay off the loan before the term ends, then make sure that there are no penalties included in the loan terms. Many lenders have penalties in place that kick in if you try to pay your loan off early.
4. Look for ways to save money
If paying for private school tuition is going to leave you financially stretched, then sit down and write a detailed budget that not only includes any financial obligations, such as debts or mortgage payments, that you are responsible for, but also your cost of living expenses, such as utilities, groceries, gas and even entertainment.
Odds are you’ll be able to find ways to reduce your expenses that will give you some more financial wiggle room to pay for private school tuition.
The following are just a few examples of how you could reduce some of your expenses:
- Stop eating out – If you go out to eat regularly, stop doing so and cook your meals at home instead. This can save you a substantial amount of money in the long term.
- Buy in bulk – Buy things like groceries and toiletries in bulk and you’ll save money in the long run.
- Drive less – If you’re driving everywhere you go, find ways to drive less so that you’re not spending as much money on gas. For example, carpool to work, bike to nearby locations or take public transportation when you can.
- Cut down on entertainment costs – Instead of going to the movies, have a Netflix night. Instead of paying for cable, pick a couple of affordable streaming services.
5. Use a credit card
Many private schools will actually allow you to make your tuition payments using a credit card.
Using a credit card may seem counterproductive since you’ll have to pay down whatever the balance is in addition to interest. However, if you can afford to make your tuition payments in full, then a credit card could be a good way to earn some money back.
Use a credit card that offers cash back rewards. Some credit card companies offer anywhere from one to five percent cash back on all purchases made. If you have such a card, then you can get a significant amount of money back if you charge private school tuition payments.
However, to ensure that you’re actually getting money back, you should pay off that balance right away or else the interest on that cost will eliminate any cashback benefit you could have earned.
If you can’t afford to pay the tuition payment that you put on your credit card, then it’s not worth doing – especially since credit card debt is extremely easy to build up, and the last thing you want to do is go into a large amount of debt as a result.
6. Apply for a tax credit
Keep in mind that to qualify for an Education Improvement Scholarship Tax Credit, the student must have attended public school in the preceding school year (unless they are entering kindergarten or first grade).
Tax credits can also only be taken advantage of if the private school meets several basic requirements, including complying with the Civil Rights Act Title VI, meeting Virginia’s private school accreditation requirements, and reporting achievement test and graduation results to the state.
For students with disabilities, the bar to qualify for a state scholarship tax credit is slightly less stringent financially. Such students and their families can take advantage of the tax credit as long as their family income is below 400 percent of the national poverty level. These students must also have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) plan in place.
7. Seek out private scholarships
Many families tend to think of scholarships as financial tools only available to college students and unusually academically or athletically gifted ones. The truth is that there are a huge variety of scholarships available for students of all kinds to help fund kindergarten through twelfth-grade educations.
A large number of these scholarship funds do aim specifically at children from low-income families or minorities.
For example, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation awards tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships to students entering high school who have demonstrated strong academic performance and family need (with a family income no more than $95,000). A Better Chance also aims to help students of color who have strong grades and demonstrated family need.
However, if you’re willing to cast a wider net, you’ll find that there are a number of middle and high school scholarships and awards that take other criteria into consideration.
For example, the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes awards up to $10,000 to those students between 8 and 18 who have demonstrated a dedication to their community through a service project.
Additionally, the Team America Rocketry Challenge awards a total of $100,000 to middle and high school students who demonstrate excellence through a model rocket contest.
For more scholarships and contents that may help fund your child’s private school education, visit FinAid.
8. Ask family members for assistance
While it can initially seem awkward to ask for help, extended family can be an excellent source of tuition assistance.
Consider this–many grandparents, aunts, uncles and other family members spend significant sums of money on their young relatives for toys, clothes and fun experiences. Unfortunately, the amusement park trips are over all too quickly, toys get broken or are outgrown, and a gift of clothes frequently don’t match a preteen or teen’s sense of style.
Instead, suggest channeling this willingness to give and contribute to something that is long-lasting and can provide their beloved grandchild, niece or nephew with something of lasting value: a private school education.
Particularly if your child is willing, offer the option of assisting with private school tuition in lieu of holiday or birthday gifts. Even if your family members aren’t comfortable helping directly with private school tuition, there are other areas that they may be able to contribute to that can free up family funds for tuition.
These area include costs related to private school tuition such as:
- Transportation costs (for private schools without a bus system)
- Club fees
- Uniforms (for applicable schools)
9. Set up a Coverdell Education Savings Account or 529 plan
You may have heard of education savings funds, a type of investment account that receives key tax advantages. Many parents set one up for their child early on in life, looking forward to using the funds to help defray the growing costs of a college education.
But did you know that the Coverdell Education Savings Account or 529 plan you’ve set up for your child can be used to cover pre-college private school tuition and expenses as well? These tax benefits can offer your family significant savings.
It’s important to understand how such plans work.
All money deposited into the investment account is able to grow tax-deferred, meaning that funds in the account can be withdrawn with no tax penalty to pay for any qualified educational expense (including middle and high school private tuition, books, uniforms and more).
Both types of plans offer this option, with the 529 plan type adding K-12 private school tuition and expenses to its valid list of uses in 2017. What’s more, the state of Virginia allows residents to deduct up to $4,000 per year in 529 plan contributions, further compounding the savings.
10. Balance private school tuition and college savings
Obviously saving for college is important, and any contributions you can make to your child’s college fund can help reduce their student loan and work-study burden. However, there’s an argument to be made for shifting your private education expenditures to primary school rather than college.
For starters, if your child attends a strong private school that has the right setting and atmosphere for them to succeed academically and beyond, they’ll be in a significantly better position obtain college scholarships to help defray the costs of their ongoing education.
Your child can also plan to go to community college first, saving significantly on college tuition over the first two years. Lastly, depending on your family’s financial situation, you may be in a better position to secure financial aid and grants for college than for private primary school.
Budgeting to Afford Private School
These are just a few ways that you could afford private school tuition even if you’re on a tight budget. Every family has a unique set of circumstances and it might take one, several or none of these methods to afford private schooling.
For more information about our tuition costs, contact Brook Road Academy today at 804-553-3354.