Money Doesn't Grow on Trees: How to Afford Private School
When I mention private boarding school, the first thought that will likely flood your mind is the five-digit price tag, as opposed to the supportive, active, and rigorous environment that your child will undoubtedly benefit from. However, after reading this post, I hope that you will think differently.
In actuality, independent schools—like Avon Old Farms—can be affordable for families from varying socioeconomic backgrounds. Most schools offer assistance of some sort to families that desire a private school education for their child. However, it's important to note that financial aid is usually need-based: families must qualify to be considered for awards.
Tips for Tackling the Cost of Independent School
Apply early for financial aid→ Each school has an annual budget set by the Financial Aid Committee to be allocated to prospective students. Applying for financial aid during the fall allows the Director of Financial Aid to organize your documents and determine an appropriate financial award for your family. However, if you do not apply until after the Feb. 1 deadline, then most—if not all—of the financial aid budget may already be allocated.
Honesty is the policy→ Be honest when filling out the Parent Financial Statement (PFS). The numbers you input should be directly pulled from the appropriate tax documents. When estimating for the current year, take all special instances into account, and explain each instance so that the Director of Financial Aid can make sense of the numbers provided.
Confidentiality is (also) the policy→ Your financial records will not be seen by anyone except the Financial Aid Committee. As a courtesy, it's expected that you won't discuss your financial awards with other families. Please keep in mind that every family’s financial situation is different and ever-changing, so what may be discussed on the surface can be far from the truth.
Sources to Pull You Out of the Fog: Financial Assistance at Avon Old Farms School
Financial Aid→ Many schools offer an overall assistance package to their students in the form of financial aid; financial aid is the source for most of the monetary assistance at Avon Old Farms. Roughly 35% of our student body receives some amount of financial assistance. This money is used for mission-appropriate boys who demonstrate an ability and willingness to support the mission associated with our private Connecticut high school.
Endowed Awards→ We currently hold 42 endowed financial awards funded by alumni and friends of Avon. The budget from the various awards is dispersed to 55 different students this year. Every year Avon hosts a luncheon for the students who receive this financial assistance along with the award benefactors.
Terry Cutler Fund for Minority Students→ The Terry Cutler Fund for Minority Students was established in 1996 by Terry Cutler, the acting Director of Admissions, and her husband, Les. This fund is set apart for minority students in need and assists through some of the financial challenges associated with the boarding school experience (e.g. fees, allowance, etc).
Avon Outreach Program→ Avon Outreach is a restricted fund established by Avon Old Farms School to help support students with unanticipated but demonstrated financial need. Monies awarded are outright grants without the expectation of repayment. The primary purpose of the Avon Outreach Program is to provide financial assistance, as resources allow, to those students who would not otherwise be able to remain at Avon Old Farms because of unexpected financial difficulties.
As you can see, there are several different funds that can make the Avon Old Farms experience affordable for families. However, the only way to access this funding is through the School and Student Services (SSS) portal. Each family must apply for financial aid, and then it is up to the Financial Aid Committee to decide from which funds the financial assistance may be appropriately allocated. Separate scholarships do not exist. So, at the end of the day, if you think that your family needs financial assistance, you must apply through the SSS portal, which opens on October 2nd. Below I have attached documents directly from SSS describing the process through which you must go through in order to be considered for financial aid.
About the Author
Avon Old Farms Class of 2011