Private school funding

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"Finding the right program for your child means prioritizing what is most important for your goals for your children and family," said executive director of Seton Montessori Institute and School and head of school at Montessori Children's House, Anna Perry.

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All parents want a top-notch education for their child and many consider private or independent schools as the best option. Often, these schools come with a hefty price tag. For parents that would like to send their children to private school but might need assistance affording the crème de la crème, here are some options recommended by knowledgeable educators and on-the-ball faculty.

St. Giles School in Oak Park offers a two-tiered tuition rate for families. The St. Giles Parish financially invests in the school, which allows for discounted rates. Contributing parishioner families will benefit from a tuition subsidy.

Financial aid (amount determined by the school board) is also available, which offers financial assistance to families with children in kindergarten through eighth grade.

According to the school’s website: “Our goal at St. Giles School is to provide an excellent education while keeping tuition affordable for a wide range of families.”

To this end, fundraising is a huge part of making independent education reasonably priced for everyone at St. Giles School. The fundraising goal for this year, for example, is $300,000: an amount that enables the tuition rate to be lower for each family. To contribute, families can take part in the Lion’s Leap Fun Run, the Lion’s Pride Black and Gold Gala benefit auction, or through direct contributions.

“The biggest piece of advice that I have for families who are contemplating applying to any tuition-driven program is to do your homework. Research all the details about the programs in your area that you would consider, including the basic costs. Ask about the tuition payment options and supports that they have available. And consider your family budget,” said Anna P. Perry, executive director at Seton Montessori Institute and Schools in Clarendon Hills.

Many schools offer discounted rates for siblings, price breaks for families that pay tuition in full up front and payment plans as a way to ease the financial burden of tuition payments. Uniquely, Seton Montessori School is able to accept credit card payments from families on certain plans, which provides a possible benefit through points or miles programs through the family’s credit card company.

“Several private schools in the area also have opportunities to apply for scholarships or financial aid,” Perry said. “When they have formal application processes, many independent schools utilize a third-party service such as Financial Aid Student Tuition by Independent School Management or School and Student Services by the National Association of Independent Schools. These services receive all the required financial information from an applying family, complete an analysis and then send a report and a recommended award level to the school’s designated representative(s).”

The Board of Specified Jurisdiction (BSJ) dictates the tuition for St. Vincent Ferrer Parish School in River Forest. The BSJ takes into account many factors before determining tuition-budget: curricular goals and a family’s ability to pay. By sticking to a tuition schedule, offering discounts to subsequent children in each family and by offering payment plans: St. Giles has made tuition affordable.

According to the St. Vincent Ferrer Parish School website: “Each year the BSJ strives to keep tuition reasonable for families while enabling the school to provide the best education possible for its students.”