It is the time of the year where parents from all over Canada are researching and selecting private schools for their children. Primary schools or high schools the choice is broad, and the decision important on many fronts – certainly the financial one. The expert in Private School selection from Our Kids, Christelle Agboka, has agreed to share with us (and you ) Tips and Advice on how to Pay for Private Schools.
OurKids.net is Canada’s trusted source for camps and schools. Each year they run Private School Expos in the major cities across Canada.
Private School tuition is inevitably one of the factors in parents’ decisions whether or not to send their child to private school, and which school to choose.
In fact, private schools are largely viewed as only being available to a privileged few, but this is a common misconception. In 2001, Statistics Canada found that almost 30 per cent of children in private schools came from families with incomes of $50,000 or less, and other studies found that 85 per cent of private school students come from lower to middle class families.
Over the years, more and more of Canada’s independent schools have been working to accommodate talented and qualified students of all socio-economic backgrounds.
“There’s been quite a shift in the thinking of these schools compared to 25 years ago,” says Susan Hazell, executive director of the Canadian Association of Independent Schools. “Now they are really keen to get the best students possible, from all demographics.”
Indeed, many of the 1,735 schools listed with the Federation of Independent Schools in Canada now offer scholarships or bursaries. Many schools, Hazell says, have developed specialized advancement offices that focus on fundraising.
“These offices are dedicated to working on enhancing endowments from alumni, past and current parents, friends and so on, which can then be used for more grants and bursaries.”
This shift has in turn helped to soften the public perception of financial aid. Tuition is the largest financial hurdle for families paying for an independent school education, and other costs mount up as well. But let us show you the plethora of options that make private school costs affordable for families from a range of socio-economic backgrounds.
Private school tuition ranges from around $4,000 a year to $40,000. Research different private schools and their costs until you find one that fits your budget and is a good fit for your child and family as a whole. Further, many schools are happy to accommodate families with flexible payment plans, so don’t be afraid to approach them for creative solutions!
Work private school costs, including tuition, uniform fees and transportation costs, into the family budget and start planning ahead. Seek budgeting help from a financial planner if necessary. Also consider expenses such as the separate cost of extracurricular activities that you may be saving by sending your child to private school. Be prepared to make sacrifices as a family and get your child or children involved by funneling money from part-time jobs to a private school savings account. Get extended family members (e.g., grandparents) if possible. A tax-free savings account is a good place to shore up funds.
According to Anne-Marie Kee, executive director of the Canadian Accredited Independent Schools (CAIS), each year millions of financial aid dollars are distributed to families in an effort to attract the best and brightest. Carefully investigate your options, keeping in mind that larger, more established schools are most likely to provide financial aid. Find out what’s available, from partial to full funding, and what the requirements are – e.g., academic excellence, community service or special talents. Then gather needed documents, such as tax forms, income statements and lists of assets, well before financial aid deadlines.
In your scholarship search don’t overlook corporate funding from your employer, or community organization or government funding sources. For instance, you may be eligible for certain government tax breaks, including breaks for special needs students.
Check out the Our Kids scholarship finder here: http://www.ourkids.net/financial-aid/
Once you have determined workable ways to pay for private school, the next step is making a choice. Types of private schools range from boarding to day schools, Montessori to faith-based schools, schools with advanced study programs to schools for children with special needs.
For more information and resources regarding choosing a private school, paying for private school and applying to schools, attend the Our Kids Private School Expos this fall with information sessions and seminars and opportunities to speak with attending schools directly.
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