Private school funding
BY WENDY ALTSCHULER For Sun-Times Media
St. Joan of Arc school is a 2013 Blue Ribbon School.
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 private education for their children but might need assistance affording the crème de la crème: here are some options recommended by knowledgeable educators and on the ball faculty.
“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 North Barrington.
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, providing 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,” said Perry. “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 Holy Cross School in Deerfield, according to its admission protocol, grants acceptance based on the needs of each individual student and the ability of the school to meet those specific needs. In addition to monthly, quarterly and annual payment plans, families are encouraged to speak with the pastor directly to discuss tuition obligations. After submitting the appropriate forms, screenings and placement tests, parents and their children will have the opportunity to be involved in fundraising efforts that assist the school directly.
In a letter to the parish, father Vince Costello said: “This year a Women’s Guild has been established as part of this fundraising project.”
The Women’s Guild has many fundraisers on the docket, including cocktail parties, pancake breakfasts, dinner auctions, craft and gift fairs and more.
The award-winning St. Joan of Arc School, a 2013 National Blue Ribbon School of Academic Excellence, has been in operation for more than 50 years and benefits children from preschool through eighth grade with a Catholic education.
After visiting the school and meeting with the principal, families are invited to start the registration process. Tuition is something that every prospective family will have to thoughtfully consider.
“Each year, we award approximately $30,000 in financial assistance to school families,” said Carrie Hampson, St Joan of Arc School principal. “We have a very active and engaged parent and parish community that organizes fundraisers that raise approximately $125,000 for our school each year. These funds help keep the cost of tuition down.”
Through fundraising and parish subsidy, the cost to each family is reasonable. Families are given a discount tuition rate for siblings to help them afford tuition. The school has a special rate for families with four or more children enrolled. Payment plans are also available for families-annually in one payment, 10 payments, quarterly or bi-annually.
“The Archdiocese of Chicago is also in the middle of a capital campaign: To Teach Who Christ Is,” Hampson said. “A portion of the money raised will be available for scholarships.”
Conducting research on all prospective schools, asking the seemingly tough financial questions and being an advocate for your child and family is what it might take to find available resources.
“Remember the reason why you’ve decided to explore independent schools to begin with: to find a school that best meets your child’s needs,” said Hilary Holder, director of admissions at Baker Demonstration School. “While the process may be time-consuming and at times overwhelming, conducting a thorough, thoughtful search is ultimately what’s in the best interest for your child.”