Frequently Asked Questions About Applying For Financial Aid In Independent Schools

Does the thought of financing the education of your child in an independent school intimidate you? Most schools are aware of the fact that some families would need financial aid in order to be able to send their children to a private school. So they do offer financial assistance to such families. However, you might have many questions and concerns regarding the financial aid application process. Let us deal with a few of the important questions here.

1. How do we start the financial aid application process

The whole process begins in the month of November every year. You need to complete the Parent Financial Statement or PFS form. You can use the prescribed paper form, or submit it online at the National Association of Independent Schools website.

2. What are the documents that we need to furnish

You will have to produce signed copies of the previous and current year’s 1040s with all the schedules as well as W-2 forms.

3. If I am divorced or separated from my partner, is it necessary for my partner to provide their financial statement as well

As long as both parents are involved in their child’s life, they would both have to submit their independent financial documents. If step parents are taking care of the child, it is necessary for them to submit their documents as well. It is imperative that each and every single person responsible for the child submit their financial documents during the application process.

4. How will the awarding of our financial aid be determined

Financial aid is basically need based. Once the School and Student Services or SSS receives your application, it will review your documents to ascertain how much you would be able to contribute towards your child’s private school education.

This information is then forwarded to the private school, which then determines the amount that they would allot for your aid. Your family income, your savings, home equity, assets, and a lot of other factors are taken into consideration when determining your aid package. Every school has a specific aid budget allocated every year.

5. Will the financial aid amount stay the same every year or would it vary

Parents are required to apply for financial assistance every year. Awards are reviewed on an annual basis. Since the award is need based, as long as the financial situation of the family does not change considerably, their part of the contribution would be fairly the same. However, an increase in tuition fee, an increase in parents’ income, and fluctuations in the school’s aid reserves can affect the aid amount.

6. When will we be notified about the awarding of our financial aid

When the admission process ends, families would receive a notification of their acceptance in a school. Along with this notification, a financial assistance letter would also be enclosed specifying the aid amount that the school would be offering, and the amount that the family is expected to contribute towards their child’s education.

7. What if the financial aid offered is still not sufficient to cover education expenses

You can contact the Financial Aid Office at the school and talk to a financial aid representative. They would be able to review other possible options for your specific needs. They might also recommend loan options and payment plans that can help meet your financial needs.

8. Is there a possibility of our child getting an admission with no financial aid

Yes, there is such a possibility. Admissions and awarding of aid are two separate processes, independent of each other. A school will provide financial assistance based on its ability and the available funds. Moreover, schools feel that it is primarily the family’s responsibility to fund their child’s education. So they may offer admission but not provide financial assistance in certain circumstances.

Go through the answers to these questions to be well prepared for the financial assistance application process. Follow these guidelines to be better informed about the process of getting financial assistance for your child’s private school education.

Natasha M. McKnight

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