3 Ways To Make Private School Affordable For Your Family

You want the best possible education for your children so that they have the best possible shot at a good college and successful future. But public schools are not always the best choice for every child. If you live in a low-performing school district, if you're fed up with Common Core and high-stakes testing, or if your child has special needs that aren't being met by the public schools, then a private school might be your best bet. But can you afford it? It may be cheaper than you think. Check out a few ways that you can make private schools more affordable.

Know Your Schools

Not all private schools are alike. Some are very academically rigorous. Some focus on a particular skill or ability, like arts or STEM schools. Still others are built around a specific educational philosophy. And, of course, there are religious based schools. Each type of school calculates tuition differently.

For instance, Catholic schools have an average tuition of $5,330 a year for elementary schools, and up to about $9,790 a year for high schools. Compare that to nonsectarian schools, which average about $18,170 a year for elementary and $25,180 a year for middle or high school. If you want to avoid religious schools, Montessori schools range from under $1,000 a year up to about $14,000 a year, so it's worth checking to see if you have one in your area that meets your price range.

Find Financial Aid

Financial aid is available for private school students if you know where to look for it. The best place to start is with the school that you want to use – many private schools have their own financial aid packages for students in need. Even schools that do not offer financial aid often have other arrangements to ease the burden of tuition costs – for example, you may be able to arrange a monthly payment plan to pay the tuition. Scholarships are also available in some cases.

You should also find out if your state offers any financial help for private school students. Some states offer voucher programs that allow students in failing districts to attend private schools instead of their local public schools. Others offer tax credits that could help offset the cost of tuition.

Try Haggling

Private schools set their own tuition rates, so they also have the option to change them if they want to. Don't think of the tuition cost that you're quoted being set in stone – you can always try negotiating for a lower rate.

For example, if you have more than one child to enroll, or if your child has younger siblings that will enroll in the future, it may be worth it to the school to cut your rates, since whatever the rate is, you'll be paying it more than once. Another option is to volunteer yourself in lieu of money. Private schools depend on parent volunteers for many tasks, so if you have the time, you could get a discount for offering your services.

There are always ways to make education more affordable, so don't give up and assume that you'll never be able to pay for private school. By comparing costs, seeking financial aid, and negotiating with the school, you'll find a private school setting that works for your family.