Results 1 to 8 of 8
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    East Coast
    Posts
    6,713

    Default Financial aid game at small private schools (K-12)

    I applied for my son to go to a small private school (60 kids) serving grades 5-8. It's my first experience with financial aid for K-12 private schools. I filled out the info on the School and Student Services online service that many schools use and one of the question it asked was how much financial aid you are requesting. I did not expect to ASK for an amount of aid - thought I'd be told an amount of aid and then perhaps negotiate from there if necessary. Anyway, I answered the question with what I thought we could afford and found out today that's what the school gave us.

    I am wondering if there is a game to this that I missed, like there is with salary negotiations. Should I have asked for more financial aid or, if possible, left it blank? I will feel silly if the school was prepared to offer more, but happily followed my lead when I asked for less. I mean, the amount I said we could afford will entail sacrifices, the biggest of which will be eliminating my monthly IRA contributions.

    I know a number of families have gotten financial aid from this school and have found the school flexible with financial aid, even generous. Two of those families don't have high household incomes, so I am sure the need for some aid was clear. On the other hand, it's not a big school so presumably that means more limits than at many larger schools.
    Last edited by american_mama; 04-16-2018 at 07:49 PM.
    Advice and commentary on living overseas

    DD1 15, DD2 12, and DS 9

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    3,831

    Default

    I think the expectation is that you ask for the amount that you need in order for your son to attend the school. If you can afford $8000 and tuition is $20,000, you ask for $12,000. Are there people who ask for more than they need? sure. But that means that another child who needs funding isn't getting it.
    Benjamin 3/5/09

    Miles 8/10


  3. #3
    squimp is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    6,415

    Default

    I wouldn’t choose private school over funding my IRA. Is there any way to change your request?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    East Coast
    Posts
    6,713

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by squimp View Post
    I wouldn’t choose private school over funding my IRA. Is there any way to change your request?
    That's part of what I wondered.... was I supposed to be willing to give up my IRA contribution or is that beyond what most families are doing? Was I supposed to plan to negotiate about aid? I know financial aid negotiation is a normal part of college admissions, but don't know about K-12 and even if it is, I am not sure I played it right.
    Advice and commentary on living overseas

    DD1 15, DD2 12, and DS 9

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    East Coast
    Posts
    6,713

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by candaceb View Post
    I think the expectation is that you ask for the amount that you need in order for your son to attend the school. If you can afford $8000 and tuition is $20,000, you ask for $12,000. Are there people who ask for more than they need? sure. But that means that another child who needs funding isn't getting it.
    I don't know if it's a zero sum game of financial aid athat you suggest, where more aid for one student means less aid for another. Maybe some years a school offers more aid and does less of something less essential, like landscaping or something. Or offers lower aid amounts but expands that to more students.

    And need is a highly subjective word, even as defined by just one person. If our financial situation was dire, we would suddenly need a whole lot less and eliminate a number of expenses to have what we really needed. But I don't think that level of meeting only minimum needs is expected to receive financial aid. So need is not an objective, clear thing to define. In fact, I'd wager that the school didn't determine it either..... they just accepted what I said.
    Advice and commentary on living overseas

    DD1 15, DD2 12, and DS 9

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    .
    Posts
    4,887

    Default

    Most private schools have you fill out a financial aid application, and determine aid based on that. What you are describing is very atypical. You could,go back and ask for more, you have nothing to lose.

  7. #7
    jenmcadams is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    2,245

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by westwoodmom04 View Post
    Most private schools have you fill out a financial aid application, and determine aid based on that. What you are describing is very atypical. You could,go back and ask for more, you have nothing to lose.
    The process at our private school is very equivalent to what I see in college financial aid. You fill out a pretty extensive application and they submit that to an external service and use that to determine your expected financial contribution. We received financial aid for two years after my DH passed away and they worked with us to make sure we included every last possible expense so they could maximize our award, but the actual amount we were awarded was mostly dictated by the service and their algorithm (hence the coaching to include all expenses). The school itself had some discretion, but in order to be fair and live up to the policy of only providing need-based (not merit-based) aid, the process was pretty defined. I do remember having to answer the question of how much I thought I could afford to pay (the actual amount I received was less than what would be indicated by my answer to that question)
    Mom to a DD (8/02) and a DS (6/05)

  8. #8
    ezcc is offline Silver level (200+ posts)
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    378

    Default

    Our school requires that applicants request the amount that they truly need. We are a super small school with a small financial aid budget so expect families to be fairly thoughtful in their ask. Most of our applicants are quite needy with very low incomes, so we really try to help where we can. We do see people who ask for help that are not as struggling and we occasionally reduce the amount or turn them down altogether. I guess a lot would depend on the school though.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •