Fri, January 5, 2024

Financial Aid for Private Schools in NYC

Are you concerned about private school tuition costs? Though the cost of tuition may seem daunting, we advise families to keep an open mind when searching for a private or independent school. Here we address common concerns about school affordability and the financial aid application process.

Are private and independent schools affordable?

When searching for the best school for your child or children, we encourage everyone to consider independent schools, regardless of any preconceived ideas about affordability. Every independent school across the United States and around the globe has a unique mission, philosophy, and culture. This includes day, boarding, special needs, faith-based, gifted and talented, traditional; and others with a specific academic mission, such as (but not limited to) Montessori and Waldorf education. Chances are, there’s one or more independent school in your neighborhood and we hope you will take a second look.

Financial aid is important for schools and families.

Independent schools exist to provide options for families, recognizing that every family and child’s academic expectations and needs are uniquely different. The application process, which can sometimes be a source of anxiety for the applicant family is in place for a good reason. Administrators and faculty want to ensure that accepted students align with the school’s mission and will thrive in their new environment socially, academically, and emotionally. Admissions staff working in every school know their programs best, and therefore, know the questions to ask that will help students achieve success. Transparency is strongly encouraged throughout the application process and Parents League of New York is here to support you.

Independent schools in the 21st century are not the schools of the past.

It’s not uncommon, regardless of income level, to look at the tuition scale for independent schools and experience some variation of sticker shock. Don’t let that stop you! It’s worth taking a look at the independent schools of today. They are evolving with the times and this includes schools with decades of history. Affordability may be more attainable than you think. The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) provides some possible options for families considering independent schools:

  • Monthly tuition payment plans
  • Need-based financial aid
  • Contributions from grandparents or other family members
  • Tax-advantaged Coverdell education savings programs
  • Sibling discounts
  • Tuition loans
  • Scholarships and merit awards

Independent schools are working harder than ever to expand these options. Socioeconomic diversity is as important as all other diversity initiatives and most view this as an integral part of the school’s culture.

Why is private school tuition so high?

Many parents question the cost of independent schools, particularly residents of New York City, where tuition is higher than in other parts of the country. The typical independent school has a relatively straightforward financial model, with a cost structure that is driven by personnel. Personnel costs (i.e., salaries and benefits) are the top expenditure in virtually every school’s budget. Here is where a considerable and important differential exists between a New York City school and the typical NAIS school: New York City’s independent schools have more teachers living in a competitive and costly environment and most, if not all hold graduate degrees. In fact, a graduate degree is often required for many independent school faculty positions in the greater NYC metropolitan area. This is a key driver in much of the price differential.

Who can I speak to about the financial aid application process?

Parents League has a unique and close working relationship with over 300 independent day and boarding schools, enabling us to provide families with up-to-date information about schools and admissions policies.
Our School Advisors can provide information like:

  • Financial aid availability at each school
  • Which grade level the school begins its financial aid funding
  • List of schools that operate on a sliding tuition scale

If you plan to apply for financial aid, please let us know. Our family membership fee can be purchased at a reduced rate for qualifying families. As a member, you’ll have unlimited advisory support during the admission process.

Learn about Parents League Membership or contact us at to get started. You can also apply for the financial aid membership discount online today.

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