How to Finance Your Child’s Private Education

For some parents, a private education is a non-negotiable expense when their children are of school age. Unfortunately, affording tuition for private school can be a bit of a challenge, especially in a difficult economic climate. There are, however, a few ways that parents can get creative about financing private educations for their children.

  • Grants and Scholarships – Children that show particular academic promise or athletic prowess may qualify, through some private schools or public grant programs, for financial assistance with education expenses. Researching any scholarship options that your chosen school offers and looking into the possibility of grant funding through programs like GrantSpace can help you determine what, if any, tuition assistance is available to your family.
  • Increasing Income Through Overtime or Second Jobs – While the idea of working longer hours and spending less time with your children can be immediately repelling, it may also be one of your only effective options for generating the additional income you’ll need to finance their private school tuition if money is tight. Speaking with your employer about getting overtime work or even taking on a second, part-time job may help you afford your child’s tuition.
  • Transition to Less Expensive Childcare – If you’ve been investing in expensive, private childcare, the reduction in hours and salary when your child enters school may result in savings that equal or even surpass her private school expenses. Provided that you only have one child or that your youngest is entering school, transitioning to a less expensive form of childcare for the few hours that separate the end of classes and a parent’s return home might be the most financially sound decision.
  • Cut Non-Essential Spending – Every household budget suffers from a bit of non-essential spending, but cutting those expenses can result in far greater savings than many parents realize. Carefully consider your budget, and determine the places where excesses can be trimmed. With a bit of creative budgeting, you may find that there’s more than enough to cover tuition.
  • Consider Religious Schools – On average, private schools affiliated with spiritual or religious groups run about $10,000 a year less than their nonreligious counterparts.  Catholic education programs come at even a greater savings. Where non-sectarian private school tuition, according to the Council for American Private Education (CAPE), costs approximately $17,316 per year, Catholic education costs parents, on average, about $6,018 annually. Other religious programs come in at $7,117. By considering a spiritually-based program for your children, you can help them reap the many benefits of private school without quite as hefty of a price tag.
  • Look Into Tuition Payment Plans – Just as some private schools offer scholarships for promising young athletes or academically-minded students, there are also those that offer tuition payment plans that make financing a private education a bit less of a burden. Check with the admissions office of your chosen private school to determine what programs are available.
  • Home Equity Loans – Tapping the equity of your home or borrowing from your 401(k) plan in order to pay for your child’s private school tuition may seem extreme, but it is a relatively common practice. If a home equity loan is a feasible option for your family, it can be one of the easiest ways to finance private schooling.
  • Education Loans – Before tapping your home equity, taking on a second job or discontinuing your nanny’s employment contract, speak with a loan officer at your bank. Many parents are under the misconception that student loans are only available to college students, but this isn’t always the case. Some banks do offer student loans for elementary and secondary education expenses, which can be a saving grace for parents whose chosen schools do not offer a tuition payment plan program.

The smaller class sizes and more controlled atmosphere of most private schools can be very appealing to parents, especially those who live in struggling public school districts. Private school students do tend to outperform their publicly-educated peers in standardized testing, and are more likely to receive a bachelor’s or advanced degree after high school, according to a U.S. Department of Education report entitled Private Schools: A Brief Portrait. This same report published findings that indicated the graduation requirements of private schools were more strenuous than those in the public sector, as well. The benefits of a private education make it well worth the added financial strain for many families, which can be considerable when there are several children in the household. Creative budgeting, payment plans and elementary education loan programs can help families shoulder this potentially significant financial burden, giving kids an academic advantage over their publicly educated peers when the time for college admissions and choosing a career path presents itself.

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