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Finding financial aid for your child's private school education

According to statistics published by The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), a nonprofit membership association that provides services to more than 1,500 independent private K-12 schools in the U.S., 22.5% of private school students in the 2015-16 school year received financial aid. That number jumps to 36.9% when the criteria is limited to boarding schools.

The decision to send a child to an independent K-12 school can be a challenge for many families. While the educational opportunities are typically superior, the cost factor can make the decision a difficult one. However, it’s a myth that only wealthy families can afford private school for their children. For those who cannot afford the cost of private school, there are many options for financial aid.

1. School funding

Most private schools offer assistants to students who demonstrate financial need. The process is different for each school, so you will need to check with the school to discover the steps you need to take. Typically, deadlines for admission and for financial aid are not the same, so don’t wait until your child has been admitted to begin the process.

You will probably be required to submit an application form along with detailed financial statements. Many schools provide worksheets to help you gather the needed information as well. American Heritage School is working with TADS Financial Aid Assessment Service, an on-line financial aid application company, to conduct confidential needs assessments for families applying for financial assistance during the 2019/2020 school year.

Access our financial aid worksheet here

2. The Jack Kent Cook Foundation

The Jack Kent Cook Foundation offers their Young Scholars Program, a pre-college scholarship for high-performing 7th grade students with financial need. With acceptance into the program, families receive help in planning and goal-setting, networking opportunities and more along with funding for academic and extra-curricular activities. Applicants for the program must present the highest academic performance and extra-curricular activities, along with demonstrated financial need.

3. Children's Scholarship Fund

Children’s Scholarship Fund was created specifically for K-8 students. The fund partners with local scholarship organizations to bring them financial, capacity-building, and management and operations support with the goal of improving educational opportunities for students and families in need. Students accepted into the program receive continuous benefits through completion of eighth- grade, provided eligibility requirements are maintained.

4. Step Up for Students Initiative

The state of Florida offers the Step Up for Students initiative, a state-approved nonprofit scholarship funding organization, helps Florida families in need who are seeking educational alternatives for K-12 students. Since its launch in 2002, the program has distributed more than 250,000 scholarships.

Five scholarships are available for Florida schoolchildren through Step Up For Students.

For lower-income families: Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program (FTC) and the Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES)
For special-needs students: Gardiner Scholarship  
For victims of bullying or other violence: Hope Scholarship
For 3rd – 5th graders with reading challenges: Reading Scholarship Accounts

Beyond the assistance offered by schools for families in financial need, there are numerous additional resources for K-12 scholarships. Many families find that their best plan is to fund their child’s tuition through a combination of options. School financial aid officers can help you formulate a plan that fits your family’s needs. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and explore all the options available to you.