Do you want to send your child to private school but have sticker shock over the price tag? You’re in good company, especially if you’re considering a school whose tuition and fees exceed $40,000 — not uncommon among the top institutions.
Before you assume a school’s tuition and fees are beyond your means, learn about its financial aid policies. Some of the priciest schools are also the most generous with financial aid, making attendance possible for students who would otherwise be shut out. Here are some examples of the aid available from some of the nation’s leading private high schools, as ranked by database website Niche.1
Choate Rosemary Hall, Wallingford, Connecticut: This school meets 100 percent of students’ demonstrated need toward the $42,330 day school tuition or $54,980 boarding school tuition for the 2016–17 school year. In total, more than one third of students receive $11 million in financial aid.
Groton School, Groton, Massachusetts: Tuition costs $43,390 for day school and $55,700 for boarding school at Groton School in 2015-16. All families with incomes less than $75,000 receive free tuition, room and board, and even families with incomes exceeding $300,000 can receive aid if they qualify.
Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts: Boarding student tuition is $52,100 and day student tuition is $40,500, but Andover meets 100 percent of a family’s demonstrated need. The average grant for the 2014-15 school year was $38,100 for boarding students and $27,300 for day students, with 47 percent of families receiving aid.
Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire: Any accepted or current student whose family income is $75,000 or less receives free tuition — a $37,125 value for day school and $47,800 for boarding school. With the country’s largest high school endowment, almost 50 percent of students receive financial aid, even those whose parents earn up to $400,000.
St. Andrew’s School, Middletown, Delaware: This boarding school meets each student’s demonstrated financial need. Families with incomes below $40,000 all the way up to the $300,000-plus level received aid toward the school’s $55,500 tuition. St. Andrews granted more than $6 million in financial aid for the current school year; the average grant was $42,723, and almost half of students received aid.
St. Paul’s School, Concord, New Hampshire: More than 200 students — 38 percent of the student body — received a total of $10 million in financial aid for 2015-16 at St. Paul’s School. Households earning $125,000 per year or less qualify for full financial aid; families with an annual income less than $250,000 are expected to contribute no more than 10 percent of their income toward tuition. The school pledges to meet each family’s full demonstrated need. The total cost of attendance is $57,985, but the average need-based grant is $50,506.
McCallie School, Chattanooga, Tennessee: Tuition at this educational institution is $24,975 for day school and $47,950 for boarding school. More than one third of day students receive aid, with an average award of $11,521, and more than 40 percent of boarding students receive aid, with an average award of $25,082.
The Westminster Schools, Atlanta, Georgia: At this Atlanta school, 15 percent of students qualify for financial aid, which benefits families with incomes from $37,000 to $130,000. Tuition for preschool through fifth grade is $23,120; for sixth through 12th grade, it’s $26,815.
The Hockaday School, Dallas, Texas: Tuition and fees for 2016-17 at this all-girls school range from $24,040 for lower grades to $29,375 for upper grades for day school. Boarding school costs $51,954 to $53,285. In 2015-16, Hockaday gave more than $3.3 million to 16 percent of its students, with an average award of $17,363.
Harvard Westlake, Los Angeles, California: This educational institution tries to meet 100 percent of every student’s demonstrated need. It gives aid to about 19 percent of students, covering up to 99 percent of tuition, with an average award of $26,000 toward the school’s $35,900 tuition.
Stanford Online High School, Stanford, California: Stanford Online High School gave more than $700,000 to 15 percent of its students to help with the school’s $19,950 tuition bill for 2015-16.
Lakeside School, Seattle, Washington: Aid is available for families with incomes from $10,000 to more than $250,000. While the school’s tuition is $30,850, the average financial aid recipient pays just $8,097.
Oregon Episcopal School, Portland, Oregon: More than 15 percent of OES students received more than $2.2 million in financial aid for 2015-16 toward the school’s tuition, which runs from $17,300 for the least expensive pre-K option to $30,700 for high school day students and $58,600 for high school boarding students.
College Prep, Oakland, California: This school’s tuition was $38,670 in 2015-16, but 24 percent of students received a total of $2 million in financial aid. Grants ranged from $4,000 to $37,000, with an average grant of $23,500.
Polytechnic School, Pasadena, California: Tuition at this educational institution is $26,400 for grades K–5, $30,900 for grades 6-8, and $34,800 for grades 9-12, but 20 percent to 25 percent of students receive financial aid to offset 10 percent to 100 percent of tuition and fees.
The Latin School, Chicago, Illinois: Tuition for grades K-4 is $28,375 and tuition for grades 5-12 is $32,535 for 2016-17. The Latin School offers need-based assistance of up to 100 percent of tuition and fees and awards more than $3.6 million annually to assist 13 percent of its students.
Western Reserve Academy, Hudson, Ohio: More than 39 percent of WRA students receive a total of $4.6 million in financial aid each year. Tuition and fees for 2016-17 total $35,500 for day school and $53,700 for boarding school.
The Blake School, Hopkins, Minnesota: Dozens of Blake attendees — about 21 percent of the student body — receive financial aid at all household income levels. The typical grant covers more than 70 percent of tuition, which costs $16,525 for pre-K and increases to $29,025 for upper school.
Laurel School, Shaker Heights, Ohio: More than 45 percent of Laurel students received a total of $2.9 million in financial aid for 2015-16. Individual awards range from $1,000 to 95 percent of tuition. The average need-based award for upper school was $14,408. For middle school, it was $10,589, and for primary school, it was $8,609. Laurel is unusual among private schools in that it also offers scholarships of $1,000 to full tuition, which ranges from $20,200 for primary school to $32,500 for upper school.
Private schools value having socioeconomically diverse student bodies, so don’t assume you’re out of the running because of your low household income. Their financial aid systems look at the family’s whole financial picture, including assets, debts, family size and other financial obligations, not just income.
“Please remember that while income is the primary driver in assessing the family contribution, we also consider assets, tuition expenses at other schools, the size of a family, debts, and other factors,” notes Groton School, for example.
So you also shouldn’t assume a high income will preclude you from getting aid. It’s worth applying and seeing what award you receive before ruling any school out.