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Finding Scholarships for Private K-12 Schools
Attending a private K-12 school comes with many benefits. These include an emphasis on academics, smaller class sizes, and better networking opportunities that are attractive to parents all across the country. However, attending a private school often comes with a heavy cost – one that is sometimes comparable to college tuition costs. Realistically, not everyone can afford such prices.
Despite this, it is still possible to send your child to a private K-12 with the help of some financial aid. Keep on reading to find out the many ways to find financial aid for private K-12 schools!
Finding financial aid for private K-12 schools: 8 ways
As most of the scholarships and grants available online target current or incoming college students, it can sometimes be difficult to find financial aid for K-12 students.
There’s no need to worry though – that’s what we’re here for! Lucky for you, we’ve compiled a list of the most common ways students attending private K-12 schools can obtain scholarships and other forms of financial aid. Without further ado, let’s get into them!
1. Contact the school’s financial aid office
As it turns out, many private K-12 schools do offer financial aid to students with demonstrated financial need. Thus, our first recommendation would be to directly contact your child’s school’s financial aid or administrative office. If available, the staff can likely connect you with financial aid resources made specifically for their students.
2. Voucher programs
Next up: voucher programs! Education vouchers are essentially government-funded certificates that allow K-12 students to attend a private school of their parents’ choice. This funding typically lasts a specified amount of time, with this time varying by voucher. Vouchers are based on families’ financial needs. However, parents are typically required to pay either 25% of tuition or $500 – whichever is a higher cost.
In order to apply for a voucher, it’s best to first check whether your state’s Department of Education provides them. Alternatively, check out the Interactive Guide to School Choice Laws which provides up-to-date comparisons of each state’s voucher laws.
We hope your state provides sufficient funding, and that you’re able to find the help you need. However, state vouchers are certainly not your only option for financial aid. Let’s take a look at some alternatives.
3. Privately-funded vouchers
So, what if your state doesn’t provide vouchers? Great question! Luckily, there are a few private organizations who offer vouchers/scholarships as well. Here are two of the major ones within the U.S.:
- The Children’s Scholarship Fund: Provides partial financial assistance to low-income families to send their K-8th grade children to private schools.
- Jack Kent Cooke Foundation: Provides generous financial aid to low-income families to send children to private schools from 8th grade through high school.
Whether you go for government or privately-funded vouchers, we hope your children are able to attend the private schools of your (and their) dreams. However, it’s good to note that vouchers are quite competitive due to limited funding. So, let’s go over some more ways you can attain funding for private K-12 schools.
4. Scholarships for minority students
In addition to scholarships given by state, some K-12 scholarships and financial aid opportunities are specifically for students of color. Particularly well-known amongst such resources include A Better Chance, which connects 4th – 9th grade minority students with the perfect schools and financial aid opportunities.
P.S.: If you’re interested in college scholarships for minority students or those of a particular demographic, be sure to check out our scholarships by background.
5. Scholarships at private religious schools
Thinking of sending your child to a religious, private K-12? Then, it’s good to know that some religious organizations provide financial aid to help students! While you can do some research and reach out to organizations directly, it may also be useful to ask the school if they have any organizations in mind that may provide help.
If you’re planning on sending your child to a Catholic private school specifically, we highly recommend reaching out to local archdioceses. They will often provide tuition assistance for Catholic schools within their jurisdiction, and thus are definitely worth giving a call. Find your local diocese by entering your zip code in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
6. Other scholarship options
Besides all the scholarship types that we’ve mentioned thus far, there are many that provide generous financial support but don’t necessarily fit into any of the categories we’ve gone over so far. Here they are:
- “Be Bold” No Essay Scholarship: Awards $25,000 to the high school, community college, undergraduate, or graduate student with the “boldest” profile.
- Doodle for Google Scholarship: Gives between $5,000 and $30,000 to K-12 students who recreate the Google logo in a way that best exemplifies the year’s theme.
- Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes: Grants $10,000 to chosen 8-18 year old students who have completed an “extraordinary service project” within the past 12 months.
- We the Students Essay Contest: Awards up to $7,500 to 16 chosen winners whose essays best demonstrate how a “free society is dependent upon natural rights.”
- Paradigm Challenge Scholarship: Grants up to $100,000 to individuals or teams between the ages of 4 and 18 who successfully complete the “paradigm challenge.”
- Breakthrough Junior Challenge Scholarship: Gives $250,000 to an individual between 13 and 18 years of age who creates a short Youtube video communicating a STEM theory, concept, or principle in the most creative and engaging way.
To learn more details about these scholarships and more, be sure to check out “Top scholarships for middle school students”! For now, though, let’s move onto our last two funding options.
7. 529 plans
These next two options are not necessarily scholarships, but are perfect for those who like to plan ahead. The first we’ll go over are 529 plans. 529s are tax-advantaged savings plans that help parents pay for their children’s tuition. Originally only covering post-secondary education costs, they were expanded to also include K-12 education costs in 2017.
Although these are federal programs, 529 plans are administered by each state and the District of Columbia themselves. While contributions are not tax-deductible for federal income taxes, over 30 states do offer tax deductions or credits in return for contributions. Further, the federal government does not tax earnings in 529 plan accounts. You do not pay taxes for these accounts if withdrawing money for education expenses. Other notable information to know about 529 plans includes:
- Maximum contribution limits change by state. Many parents choose to limit their contributions to $15,000 annually to avoid federal “gift tax” requirements
- Contributors can be at any income level
- Withdrawals for K-12 schooling are limited to $10,000 per year and can be used solely for tuition
And that’s it! Let’s move onto your last option: Coverdell ESAs.
8. Coverdell ESAs
Coverdell Education Savings Accounts, better known as Coverdell ESAs, are tax-deferred trust accounts for education expenses. They are created by the federal government and offer both tax-free earnings growth and withdrawals. Here’s what else you should know about them:
- They can be spent on tuition and other educational expenses
- Maximum contribution: $2,000 per beneficiary per year
- Eligibility: Families whose modified gross income is below $220,000 for joint filers or below $110,000 for single filers
- Students must use the funds before they turn 30. After that, they must pay fees and taxes when withdrawing from the account. Providers may waive these age restrictions for special-needs students.
And that’s it! No matter what method or mode of financial aid you go for, we wish you the best in finding financial aid for the private K-12 of your dreams. If you or your child has any questions about school, classes, or college down the road, we’ll be here to help!
Frequently asked questions
How much does a private school cost?
Great question! Ultimately, there is not one definite answer to this. This is because each private school charges as much as they see fit, causing costs and tuition prices to vary by school. With that said, we can still give you some U.S. averages as of 2021:
- $12,350 was the average annual tuition amongst private K-12 schools
- $16,040 was the average tuition of a private high school
- $37,590 was the average cost (including tuition and room and board) of the 260 private boarding schools across the country