How to Afford a Private School

GPS Blog
Based on recent stats published by the National Association of Independent Schools, the average cost of tuition for day students is $26,866 per year. While some families can easily afford tuition, many must make personal spending sacrifices, consider other options, or rely on the generosity of donors to defray tuition costs. Keep in mind, most private schools are committed to helping families find creative, manageable ways to pay for their child’s education. Here are some ways to make it work for you.

Tuition payment plans

If paying an entire year’s tuition up front seems inconceivable, consider taking advantage of a school’s established payment plans that make tuition easier to budget. For example, Girls Preparatory School offers a payment plan, allowing parents to spread tuition costs over a 10-month period. 

Financial aid

Not every family can afford the full cost of tuition, which is why many private schools offer need-based financial aid, much like colleges and universities. Factors such as the number of children in tuition-based schools or colleges, household income, and expenses are all factored into a family’s ability to pay. If a parent feels as though their family cannot afford to pay the full cost of tuition, regardless of income, it’s worth the effort to submit a financial aid application. Expect to provide verifiable tax returns and proof of income.

Private scholarships 

Parents might think of private school scholarships and endowments as financial tools available only to college students, but myriad scholarships are available to academically or athletically gifted students. In addition, some schools direct scholarship funds to high-achieving students from low income families or minorities.

Extended family assistance

Although it may seem initially awkward to ask for help, extended family can sometimes assist with the cost of tuition. Relatives who already spend money on your children for birthdays and other fun experiences might help defray the cost of an opportunity to attend a prestigious school. Consider requesting that this money be directed toward providing a life-changing opportunity for their young relative—a private school education.

Tuition loans

If a family is in the right financial space to take on long-term debt, private school tuition loans can be a saving grace. Parents must apply directly to the lender, and the loan amount and interest rate will depend on the lender’s credit requirements. Generally, the terms on tuition loans are more favorable than car loans and mortgages, but can depend on the applicant’s credit score.

Assess tradeoffs

Families should consider how their daily spending will be affected with the expense of private school. According to a study by the National Association of Independent Schools, 82% of parents eliminate or cut back on travel and dining out, 64% delay or spend less on household purchases, and 56% delay the purchase of or spend less on personal vehicles. Determining whether your family can cut back on these expenses will provide a clear outlook on the ability to afford private school.
Bahney, A. (2020, January 15). How to pay for private school. Retrieved from 
Brook Road Academy. Ways To Afford Private School on a Budget. (2019, July 9). Retrieved from
Kennedy, R. (2016, May 26). Paying for Private School: 7 Options. Retrieved from 
National Association of Independent Schools. 2020 Facts at a Glance. Retrieved from