Financial Aid for Private K-12 Schools
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Financial Aid for Private K-12 Schools
Hi everyone, I'd greatly appreciate any advice you might have.
My partner and I are in a same sex relationship. We are looking for a private school for
daughter who's ready to be enrolled into Kindergarten next September.
We are hoping to get some clarity around how to fill out the financial aid form. As only
one of us can claim her as a dependent in the federal income tax return, do we report the
same for school enrollment purpose? I do not wish to misrepresent that our daughter is in a
single parent household but it is also a fact that our partnership is not recognized
federally and only one of us gets to claim her a dependent.
Any other couples gone through this process of enrolling your children into private schools
and have some advice for us? Thank you in advance.
Our child has been in private schools for 9 years and we are two Dads. You must report the
income of both parents. The federal government is not fair, you are right. But it is a good
idea to be fair to the school and other families that are applying. Financial aid is needs
based. If you have two incomes then you need to report them so the committee can make an
intelligent decision about which families are in need of financial assistance.
We were in the same situation last year and, while the process of applying for financial aid
made us also feel the unfairness of federal tax laws for same sex couples because we do not get
all the same rights, the financial aid forms require that you report the incomes and submit tax
documents of ''both parents with financial responsibility.'' Each school has a form that you
fill out and you also go through a standardized application. Not only is it the ethical thing
to do, but it is what you will have to do. You are entering a school community that should not
pay for our federal inequities. I understand the unfairness, but please don't make your child's
local school pay for that. You will be a known family and even if you chose for some reason to
indicate only one parent, do you really want this to be how you finance your child's education?
Do you really want to hide one of you as parents from school activities because supposedly your
child is being raised by one parent?
don't stoop to the feds level
I am curious about how private schools give financial aid. Our family is low
income, and I've been told by other families that we would surely receive
financial aid, but how much? At my son's preschool we receive 25%, their max. It
is doable but only because the school cost around $9000 for the year. It seems
most grade schools cost closer to $15,000-$20,000! Let's just say, 25% off on
one of those price tags is NOT doable. What are other people's experiences? Has
anyone received more than that, say closer to 50% financial aid? We are a
minority family; does that matter?
Is Private School Possible
We are a low-income family and receive 80% financial aid at a well-regarded
private school that my child loves (and so do we). My child also receives an
outside grant (from The Basic Fund) for the maximum amount of $1,600., so in
all we pay about $2,000/year in tuition.
We had applied to some other private schools and in one case were offered a
much smaller financial aid award, in another case a similar award to what we
have now--but this was the school that we liked the best and seemed to be the
best fit for our son. We are so full of gratitude for the support the school has
shown us and their commitment to our child.
My advice is: apply to schools that you really like, apply for aid, and see what
happens. It's hard work, so get ready. Have a public school option as a back-up.
Look into private grants that are available to families in the Bay Area--there are
others besides The Basic Fund.
I'm hoping that families out there who have gotten financial
aid for private schools will share their experiences. Our
income is 100k before taxes, we pay a mortgage, student
loans, and our own health care. We are able to pay our
daughter's part time preschool expenses, but it isn't
comfortable. Once our daughter is in kindergarten, we will
also have preschool expenses coming up for the next two.
So, my question is... are we likely to get any financial aid
at all if we were to apply to private schools when she
enters kindergarten? I am sort of bewildered by the
process, especially the idea of applying to multiple schools
only to find out that it is completely out of reach. Some
people I've spoken to make it sound as if we would be in the
running for aid, and some have said the very opposite. We
don't have our hearts set on the private school option, but
would like to explore it if possible.
This isn't exactly answering the question you've asked but I
want to tell you as a parent who sent my only child to
private school from K-12 (and just sent her off to college)
that I feel like I wasted a lot of money unnecessarily. If I
knew then what I know now I would never have paid for
private school for the lower school years. I would have
moved her to private school at middle school (or possibly
even waited until high school). Something to consider, if
your public grade school is adequate -- especially since you
have 3 kids, and money is an issue.
Wish I'd Considered Public
From what I have seen, each student will have unique opportunities for financial
aid at each private school. Many schools use SSS (School and Student Services)
to determine the amount of aid that you will need -- and it takes into account
the amount that you will need to budget for all of your children. You can fill
the SSS application without sending it to schools to get some sense of your
However, each school has to fund the financial aid, and some schools have more
money to fund financial aid than others. Go on the tours and decide which
schools are the best fit for your child. If there is a school that you think
be an amazing match, let the admissions office know how interested you are! If
a school really feels like your child is a good fit, they will definitely try to
you the financial aid that you need.
Been through the SSS process
Please apply. You will never know until you apply. Many people think they make
too much to apply for financial aid for private schools. My child was accepted to
a private school, I applied for financial aid thinking that I might not qualify,
I got the aid without question. It really was just that easy. Fill out the paper
work and apply to find out. Don't waste your time asking others to guess
whether you will receive it or not. It may only discourage you.
go for it!
I noted that most replies said, essentially: go for it, you
never know till you try. But it's really not that simple.
My understanding is that the vast majority of private K-12
schools are NOT ''need-blind'' (some private high schools are,
elementary probably never). Admissions officers will take
into account whether students are applying for financial aid
in making admissions decisions. If funds are limited, as
they always are, especially these days, families applying
for aid who would otherwise be admitted or waitlisted will
be rejected. (If you read the fine print on most school's
financial aid documents, they will say that you cannot apply
for financial aid at any time other than when you apply for
admission UNLESS you can show a major change of
circumstances in the meantime...presumably this is to
prevent families from ''sneaking in'' as full-pay and then
later applying for the aid that they'll need going forward.)
My vague sense from gossip, honestly, is that with most
independent schools, financial aid is reserved for families
that meet a certain profile...distinctly needy families who
will add very visible diversity to the school. If you're on
the cusp (maybe you could pay the tuition, but at the
expense of retirement savings or maintaining a rainy day
fund), you're probably not within that profile.
I could be wrong, and I'd love to hear from someone with
true inside knowledge of this sort of thing. But among many
private school parents, this is the word on the street...you
can go ahead and just try applying, but you may be taking a
big gamble on your kid's chances of getting in. For all
their cuddly rhetoric, most private schools are well-oiled
Wish I were wrong
We have a higher income level than what you mentioned, and
recently received 2/3 financial aid for our child to attend
a private school. We were very concerned that we wouldn't
fall in to the right income level for aid, but talking to
the school's admissions director helped. I also can let you
know that at the school, it was needs-blind admission,
because our child was accepted, but put on the waiting list
for aid (and then received it).
I would advise calling the admissions director at the school
and asking if families at your income level receive
We are potentially facing a transition from public school
to private school and find that the financial aid process
is not as transparent as we would like.
What we need to know from people with experience is,
(assuming your financial situation is the same year over
year) does a school's financial aid offer duing year #1
hold steady though-out the 4 high school years or is each
In other words, can a school entice you with an attractive
package in year 1 and then take the aide away in
subsequent years knowing that you are emotionally invested
through your child and may find a way to pay more out of
pocket in tuition fees?
We don't want to get caught in this. It feels like bait-
and-switch. Has anyone experienced this?
thanks to all
My experience of three years of private high school indicates
the opposite of what you fear. As I learned when denied
financial aid at one school, schools fulfill the needs of
their continuing students before offering it to new ones. Our
school has more than maintained the financial aid for my
Consider me Grateful
Most private schools do the following:
- they require a financial id application through a 3rd
party (cost usually around $35)
- the third party indicates to the school what your
numbers are and sometimes makes a reommednation . Rather
than say you should get $XX in scolarship, they said you
can pay $XXX
- The school then takes it nder advisement.
Some schools have a financial aid fun they take out of to
make up the difference and so the toal available affects
what they give to each. Others simply feel it's best to
take the student at a lower rate and simly assume a loss.
No matter what the third party says, the school has
complete choice. We have gtten it twice because of my
heavy involvment at the school.
A school absolutly cannot guarantee you anything for more
than the year you are applying for and in my experience
most dont play games. The numbers are really based on you,
rather than the school.
As a parent who has requested these in 2 different schools
and works in shool office i would see what the results
are fo the first year. It will most likely not dastricly
change unless your situation changes.
I have seen a few postings about financial aid for private
schools, but none that address to our situation. Does anyone
have experience or information that would help us assess our
chances of getting financial aid at the French School in
Berkeley? We have a family income of about 100k. We rent an
apartment, have two kids, and no assets. We have no debts
and no mortgage. Ours is a month to month situation with a
little bit of saving. Can anyone give us an idea of what
type of response to a request for financial aid we would
The only way you will know for sure how much you will get is to apply. My
recollection is that you find out if you will receive aid and how much before you
need to commit to attending in the event you are accepted. The school is
''competitively'' priced and, in my experience, does a great job with the financial
aid end of things. It is a great school, in my opinion, and well worth some
Ecole Bilingue gives financial aid to parents who need it, and in your
situation, you would probably need it. Tuition for many of the best private
schools runs between 15K an 20K for elementary. By the time you are
done, it could be quite a bit more, so with 2 kids you would definitely
If you are French national there is a program that you can apply to and
possibly receive aid up to the full amount, I believe. For non-French
families the aid comes from the school. I believe the maximum is
somewhere around 50% of tuition. But the amounts varied from year to
year, based on how many folks need aid, and the tuition that the folks who
do not need aid generates. And it is not guaranteed each year. You have to
The application process begins early, as does the financial aid process. But
do not be afraid to apply to the school and apply for aid, if that is where
you want to send your child.
Note that for EB, they start young - the school has french immersion pre-
kindergarden starting two years before. For many that is a good way to see
if the school is a good fit, both financially and academically.
Also note that like most schools, the school asks for additional donations,
which is almost a requirement. And there are capital funds required for first
year students. So it is a commitment. Our children have and are still
attending, and it is a significant financial, as well as academic challenge. But
I think it is the best money we spend. Last year, our business was doing
poorly, and we considered selling the house, as opposed to leaving the
school. The bi-lingual nature of the school makes it very difficult to leave,
because you know you can never really go back once you leave and fall
behind on the French portion.
I am curious to know what would be the financial assistance for a private middle
school for a middle class family like ours. They say there is help for everybody,
but would be great to know more, before applying. $1,000 off would not be a
huge help... We are a typical Bay Area family, making about $150k's a year and
are considering schools like Prospect Sierra, Windrush, etc... Can anyone give us
a little more information? Thank you!
We have had our children in the same private school, and
would not have been able to afford even the first year
without some help. When the economic downturn happened, we
unfortunately needed more in order to make tuition and they
gave it to us. Our first year we received $6K. There are
some really wonderful private schools with good people who
want your family to be there.
If your life, schedule allows for it, consider volunteering
at the school (and mention your intentions in your letter).
There is always a need for room parents, field trip drivers,
auction committee volunteers, auction donations, etc.. That
is how I have been able to give back to our beloved school
when our finances could not.
Hi Susan, many middle income families are confronted by the
same financial challenges you are facing when considering an
independent school education for their children. It's not
possible for a school to determine how much assistance a
family will qualify for without all the specific information
about each family. Each family is so unique in its financial
obligations. In thinking of a family in just your situation,
Prospect Sierra is piloting a new Tuition Support Program.
It is a simpler process that provides small grants to
qualifying middle income families. Please visit our website
www.prospectsierra.org to learn more about it.
Lily Shih, Director of Admissions
Has anyone successfully reduced their child's private school
tuition by providing an ongoing and needed service that
could not be effectively done by a volunteer parent
committee? I am a full-time marketing and public relations
person with a background in the development of planned
giving programs for nonprofit organizations. Would love to
hear about any successful strategies for presenting this
option to a school in exchange for a reasonable reduction in
annual tuition. Many thanks.
When my son was accepted to a private school, we got a good
scholarship. My husband who is in non profit fundraising
offered to become their consultant in that area and has been
working a great deal with them. This happened b/c we felt
we needed to give something back and not b/c we wanted to
strike up a deal.
I don't think it happens in the way you describe it, that
would stir up a lot of other issues. Get the scholarship
first, then offer to help.
Should I bother applying to some of the east bay independent schools
if my financial situation would require close to a full scholarship?
My contribution could be no more than $5,000 per year and that is
really stretching it for me. I am on disability and have no outside
support, unfortunately. I read an earlier post by someone that said
her child was ultimately denied because the school would prefer to
help out a couple of families instead of carrying a single
student. Has anyone else had a similar experience? Are these schools
really only for the wealthier people after all?
Yes, private schools are by and large for high-income
families. Even if your child is offered sufficient financial
aid for the first year, tuition will rise every year, and
your grant may not. Also, as your child gets older he/she
will feel deprived when other children go on outings you
can't afford, and have toys/clothes you can't afford.
What I saw at my child's pre-school, and with other friends
we had with children that age, was that except for a few
outliers the decision of public vs. private lined up very
neatly with family income, whatever other reasoning entered
into the decision. My suggestion is that you visit the
public schools near you, and see how you feel about them
when you are there. If none of them seem to work, then
contact the private schools directly and find out what
percentage of families in your demographic receive full
financial aid packages.
public school parent
Have you looked into Crestmont? It is a parent co-op and
the cost is about $9500 a year. They do offer scholarships,
but even if it is not for the full amount you need, there
are numerous ways you can get tuition stipends. There is
some amount of required participation, but anything over
that goes toward your tuition. It is in Richmond and is a
small school with an emphasis on arts. It might be what you
are looking for...
I serve on the Board of an East Bay private school and am
knowledgable about our financial aid policies. You should
definitely apply for financial aid. We have families at
our school with similar ability to pay as you have. There
are schools that provide up to 95% aid. Look on their
websites. My only advice is to apply to several schools
so that you have more options.
In terms of financial aid, it is hard to generalize
private schools' approaches. There are some schools that
may prefer to spread funds out among more students,
particularly since the economic climate many schools
experienced in 08-09. That being said, there are many
schools want to use financial aid funds to create an
economically diverse group of families within each
classroom. For our son's school -Redwood Day Sch.- that
does NOT mean all middle and high income (which is
generally what happens if you make a lot of small grants)
or all low and high income (which is what happens if you
make only really large grants). Instead, I understand the
goal is to try to have some large grants, some mid-range
grants, and some very small grants with the intent of
having an average grant of about 50% of tuition. Hoping
that helps you. Good luck!!
What are my chances of getting some kind of financial aid for
my son to attend one of the private elementary schools in the
area if our income is in the $50,000 yearly range? Would it
make a difference that my son is of african american descent as
most schools seem to be looking for some diversity in the
classroom? I understand that I would have to fill out the
financial aid forms but I am wondering if I would even have a
chance of getting any help. Would appreciate any feedback from
anyone that has gone through this process and what the outcome
To the person asking if a salary of $50K is too much to qualify for financial aid for
private school, you should definitely apply! I think you have a great chance of being
awarded some money. We make about twice that and have qualified for some financial
aid at our children's private school every year. It can't hurt to apply. The deadline to
apply for F.A. is coming soon (I think it's 11/20) so make sure you get your paperwork
First off this is based on working at one private school and
having applied for aid at a different school but is just one
person's experience and not on any specific info. I think, with a
family income of $50,000, you will qualify for financial aid at
most private schools. My understanding is that admissions
decisions and financial aid decisions are made separately at most
schools. First students are admitted then aid is parceled out to
those that qualify and most schools are looking to increase their
diversity so being in an underrepresented group helps your odds
of admission and perhaps getting aid. That said the schools will
probably not tell you in advance how much aid you will get, also
most schools expect all families to pay something and will not
give full scholarships. Once you get aid they will keep giving it
unless your financial situation changes. I would say apply and
see what you get offered but be realistic about what you can
really afford. It could be a wonderful opportunity or too much
of a burden, only you can decide.
You would definitely qualify for financial aid at a private school. The levels vary from
school to school. We make around $100k (2 kids in school) and got about 30% tuition
I was in a similar situation a couple of years ago and applied
for financial aid at an Oakland private school for my african-
american son to attend. I was denied - they said that based on
my income, they have would have to subsidize almost the entire
cost of his tuition, and they would rather use that money to
help several families than just one.
Keep in mind, this is just one anecdote . . .
Most schools use a standard formula. It not only takes into account your income but
also your assets and home equity. If you rent, it is generally easier to qualify for
financial aid. If you own your home and have a certain level of equity, you will not
qualify. I don't know what that amount is. It is always worth it to apply.
fin. aid family
I think you should try for finanial aid. It doesn't affect
acceptance into the school and many private schools are on a
system so you can just fill out the more detailed form once and
they will send copies to various schools you apply to. Most
schools don't have a set income limit for aid, but determine
need based on your taxes and other factors including cost of
living in the bay area. not sure whether they can give more aid
based on ethnicity but all private schools I know of seek more
we're trying next year
As a Board Member of a local private school I am aware of our
school's financial aid program. You have a good chance of
receiving financial aid.
We've heard glowing reviews about Park Day, but could only send
our daughter if awarded financial aid. We're concerned about
two things:1) how likely is it that, given no changes in our
financial situation, we'd be denied aid one year after receiving
it in previous years, and 2) privacy issues, since we understand
the process is handled by a company back East. We'd love to
hear about other parents experiences re: this issue. Thank you!
Exploring all options
Park day has the same financial aid process as all the
Independent school. You have to send each school's financial
aid application along with your last 2 years tax returns. And
you have to fill out a long form that goes to some company back
east (I think it's online). It's the same type of process for
applying for college. I wouldn't worry about confidentiality,
this is a priority for them.
This organization ( I can't remember the name)gives them
information stating how much you should be able to affford for
private school and sends this info to all the schools you
request them to send it to. Then each school decides how much
financial aid to give you. One school may give you no financial
aid and another may give you thousands.
I believe that most schools are committed to their students who
are getting financial aid. ALthough there are no promises and
you have to apply annually, I believe they try to keep those
families with their financial aid.
Apply to more than 1 school. I think 3-4 is a good number. The
right school will materialize. And be open. I thought I ''knew''
what school I wanted my son to go to before we even started
looking. Once we started going on tours this totally changed.
Our son is at Aurora School and we are overjoyed with his
kindergarten teachers and the school in general. Add Aurora
school to your list of schools to check our for sure!
Feel free to contact me if you want more information about
We go to Park and it's just as wonderful as everyone says it
is. We applied for Financial Aid the first year and didn't get
it. The second year, we did. My understanding is that the
priority is keeping existing families at the school, so unless
your financial situation changes for the better, you are not
likely to lose financial aid once you get it. We ended up not
applying for financial aid the third year because we came into
some money and felt like other people needed the aid more than
It does feel weird to open up your finances, but the company is
very professional and I have never heard of any info leaking
Delighted park family
At Park Day School, we have historically made a commitment to
families to continue providing financial assistance while the
financial situation of the family remains the same. Our
experience has been to continue to allocate funds to the
financial assistance recipients. The application is processed by
an outside company; Park Day School has a small committee, highly
respectful of the privacy of the families who apply for financial
aid, that reviews all applicable financial materials. Decisions
are made by the committee.
Assistant Director of Park Day School
We're a middle class family who could probably pay for private
school on our own (though somewhat painfully), and may not
qualify for any financial aid if we applied. We're wondering if
even applying for financial aid could decrease our son's chances
of admission. Do the schools count it against applicants if they
feel the family could have difficulty paying tuition if not
granted any financial aid?
to ask or not to ask
The private schools have a policy of ''blind admissions'' meaning
that they first decide who they want to accept without regard
to financial aid and then they look at the financial aid
applications of those students they want to accept and decide
how to dole out the money. The schools can decide at their own
discretion how they want to allocate the financial aid. This is
only my opinion and I have no inside information but I think
that they use the money primarily to assist families at the
lower end in order to obtain socio-economic diversity. This
means that instead of spreading the money around more so that
some middle class families get a meaningful amount of aid, the
bulk of the aid goes to families who need full or close to full
tuition to attend. Also, what is considered middle class is
hard to pinpoint. That means different things to different
people and is rapidly changing. The median household income in
the bay area (Alameda and San Francisco Counties) is around $55-
60k but living on that and paying $20k for private school is
not feasible. They also look at all of your assets including
home equity and 401k's when considering the sources of income
you may have. The financial aid application is pretty
exhausting and leaves you feeling rather exposed. Not to
discourage you, you have nothing to lose by asking and you
never know what factors are in play from year to year. Also,
some schools have a lot more financial aid to offer than
others. Just ask and they will tell you how much they give out
each year. Hope this helps.
Applying for financial aid is not supposed to decrease your
chances, but, in reality, from our experience, it does. If you
do not apply, the admission office does not know anything about
your financial status (if you do apply, they know EVERYTHING),
so, if you can afford the tuition, please apply without the
cumbersome and soul-revealing financial aid process...
Does applying for financial aid make it harder for your
kid to get in to the private high school they want to go
to? Are they more likely to accept your kid if you are
not applying for financial aid? When does this
application process take place? The school hasn't told us
anything about it, but another school said there was a Jan
deadline for filling out the forms.
at the high school where I work, the Admissions Committee
and the Financial Aid Committee are totally separate
entities with no overlap. The Admissions committee does
not take into account finances AT ALL. The deadline for
both applications for admission and for financial aid is
often the same so that when acceptance letters are mailed,
grant letters can be included. That way parents have all
the information they need to make the decision to send
their child there or not.
hope this helps
I believe most private schools do not consider
financial ability when making admission decisions. First
they decide who will be offered admission, and after that they review financial
aid applications. However, this could mean that your child is
offered admission but you are not offered financial aid. At that point
you would have to tell them that you cannot attend without
financial aid and they would offer your spot to someone else.
There are local
private schools that have very large endowments and can provide
financial aid to a large number of their applicants, and there are other
schools that have a very limited amount of money, so they can't pay
the bills if they have too many students on financial aid. So
which school you are applying to probably makes a big difference.
I found that most admissions directors are very straightforward
about financial information. You should just ask them. You
might even find info on their website.
Hi! We are in the process of applying for financial aid for
our son (only child) who will be starting kindergarten next
Fall. We feel like we look ok on paper (about $90k income, we
own 2 properties and have investments), but realistically
wouldn't be able to afford the $15,ooo/per year tuition without
at least 50% assistance. I am asking for any advice, additional
resources, and experiences with the system. Do you have a
similar situation, and have you received or been denied aid? I
should note that our son is biracial (1/2 African American)...
not sure if it makes a difference. Thank you for your thoughts.
With your income and assets, I think they are going to expect you to
pay more than
what you want to pay. You should fill out the SSS form that most
schools use and
request a family report. You will get it just a few days after you send
in your info,
especially if you do it online. That will tell you what they think you
Each school then decides on their own how much to really give you. But
reference, I just filed and qualified for a pretty low contribution and
I make WAY
WAY less than you. Basically, they do not expect you to just let your
untouched. You have to pay what you can. You also need to find out how
school offers in financial aid. For example, if 50% is the maximum they
someone much poorer than you is probably going to get that amount
before you do.
In searching for a kindergarden for my son I thought I would
look at the private schools even though we can't afford it. I
was curious what they had to offer that public schools didn't
and if they were so much better. Well, I fell in love with
Tehiya Day School and knew it was the perfect match for our
family. The problem is we really can't afford it. Our income
covers our expenses with a little left over for a camping
vacation and some fun activities maybe once a month. We have
some savings, not much, and no prospect in the future of
becoming well off. I suppose if we give up our minimal leisure
activities we could somehow swing it but is it worth it? Our
son might be happy in the school but we wouldn't be able to
afford anything else - especially the after school activities.
We do live in Albany, however and I did like the schools, but
not as much as Tehiya. Has anyone had this dilemna? I'd love
to hear how people feel about not being able to offer a private
school education to their children and those that live in
Albany who considered private school but ended up at the public
school and have been happy. I was also concerned
about ''bullying'' especially among boys and thought that private
school would offer a more protective environment and thus less
of the school yard antics.
''wanting the best'' mom
I, too, fell in love with Tehiyah Day School! It is a wonderful
school and an especially wonderful community. I know that it is
a school worth some level of sacrifice.
Please talk to Amy Friedman, Tehiyah's Director of Admission
about your worries and how much you love her school immediately
(before all the contracts are due next week and all of the aid
is gone). Tehiyah, in their committment to community, ''will
make the money work out when we know that a student and family
is a good match for us.'' (Tell Amy that Wanda suggested you to
Also see Albany School District's API scores in this past
Wednesday's Chronicle...impressive, if you believe that
standardized scores make all the difference.
Good luck with your school selection. Wanda
Have you even looked at your public schools? I find that people
are willing to completely blow off thier public school without
ever having seen it or visited it and without much information on
which to base their assumptions that the school is not going to
be okay for their kid. My child goes to Crocker Highlands in
Oakland, and it is amazing how many people assume because its in
Oakland, it is no good (btw, must brag, it scored a 9 out of 10
in the recent State rankings).
Everybody wants ''the best'' for their kid,but what does that
really mean? There are academics but also other factors one must
look at. When we looked at private school, I was concerned about
the lack of diversity (mostly socio-economically) and how it
would be for my kid to always be the one who had the smallest
house, and didn't go skiing in Tahoe for a week every winter, and
all those social pressures which can be difficult to handle,
especially as kids get older. And if you are on the edge about
being able to afford a private school, I'm doubting you will have
the money they will expect you to donate on top of the big
tuition fee you will pay. I am jealous somewhat of what some of
the private schools can offer my child, like a huge garden, and
the ability to discuss certain issues (like gay rights), but you
know what? I can provide that to my child in so many other ways,
that I dont' need to rely on a school to do it.
So I would encourage you to really look at your public schools
and have a different paradigm about what really makes a good
school experience for your kid. With a little work and lots of
school involvement, you can make it what you want it to be!
I'm not sure that private schools are any better about bullying
than public schools. A lot of kids are just mean. My son was
bullied even at a very small private school (though it was not
Tehiya). He had a wonderful classroom teacher at Albany's
Cornell school, but he was still bullied at recess, and spent
most of his time in the library, the safe haven. That had also
been his strategy at the private school. Albany Middle school
is even worse because there is less supervision and it's a
horrible age for meanness. I do think the bullying has more to
do with my child's personality and inability to deal with
teasing than anything else. But I am seriously concerned with
some of the things I hear about the goings on at Albany Middle
School right now, and if I could afford to switch him to private
school, I'd definitely look into it. He seems to be concerned
for his own safety, at times, which is how I remembered feeling
in the berkeley public schools, back in the 70's, and what I so
hoped to protect him from, in moving to Albany.
Having said all that, I really think the biggest benefit of
private school is the quality of the education and smaller class
sizes, rather than any particular kindness on the part of the
other students or parents. People are people, and some of those
aren't so nice, whether they have money or not. A religiously
based school like Tehiyah might have a different culture. You
may find that in the older years there is less emphasis on
sexuality and fashion among the students, but I don't really
know that either.
concerned public school parent
Both my kids go to Tehiyah and while we do not have financial
aid (they think we make too much money) I know many people who
have received very generous financial aid without much
It's worth applying, the worst that could happen is you'll be
Are you absolutely sure you can't afford it? That's what we
thought but when we sat down and worked things around our budget
we found that we could do it, though it would be tight.
Are there any relatives you can ask for help?
Since we've been there the tuition has gone up every year
(sorry, that may sound discouraging).
I know this isn't the direct answer to your question, but I'm
hoping it'll give you another way to look at the possibility.
I feel you should be realistic about what you can afford.
Unless someone changes jobs or takes on more work, it sounds
like Tehiyah is cost-prohibitive for you. That of course, would
just be the tuition but what about all of the 'extras' i.e.
fundraisers, activities, keeping up with the ''Jones''' and all
that the other families may be able to afford. Remember too
that the Bay Area is just going to get more expensive. Since
you live in a great school district I would give that a go
first. Volunteer there when your child starts and that way you
will see just what goes on each day. I actually quit my job to
be around more when my child started kindergarten to help with
the transition, reading, learning, etc.. instead of stressing
out over high tuition costs. It's not easy but I think (and
hope) we have the same result in her education in the long run.
You sound really devoted to your child but your posting leaves
out whether a Jewish education is an important part of wanting to
make sacrifices to send your child to Tehiyah. If so, then no
the Albany schools are no replacement. If, however, you think
that there is no ''bullying'' at Tehiyah or independent schools,
you might want to know that the quality of boy bullying in my
son's class, and some other instances in some other grades, would
sadden you. And Tehiyah in our experience is pretty resigned
I am not sure what you mean by ''worth it,'' but know that our
experience after having two sons in two different independent
schools in El Cerrito is that a good public school may be doing a
better job of meeting consistent curriculum and state-mandated
curriculum better than independent schools. At both Tehiyah and
the other independent school that my other son attends we are
finding huge holes in the curriculum and very different qualities
of teacher (uneven teachers can happen in public school as well,
If the Jewish aspect was not important to us, my kids would
likely be going to public school in Orinda or Moraga. And I also
worry that my kids don't have any real built-in friendships on
our street because everyone is in different public or private
schools. I sure liked that part of my childhood where I had
close friends as neighbors.
Good luck to you.
If you really like tehyihah or any other private school I would
encourage you to apply for financial aid. We just received our
acceptance and rejection letters from private schools for
kindergarden. We were in the boat of thinking that we had too
much money to receive financial aid but also couldn't figure out
how we would pay for private school, short of refinancing our
house or me going back to work. (Right now I'm at home with our
4 year old and her younger sib.) We did receive financial aid
from Head-Royce and I know another family in the same boat who
received financial aid from Park Day. Each school has different
amount of resources for financial aid and a different set of
criteria for whom they make awards. It's worth a talk with the
admissions directors of schools you are interested in. But it
appears that some of these schools are making good on their
commitment to provide aid to ''middle income'' (in the Bay Area
definition of that term!)families. It's certainly worth a try,
and if you do not get enough aid, at least you have another good
option in the Albany Public Schools.
It's much easier to fall in love with a private school than to
pay for one. And Tehiyah is particularly lovable. Have you
asked about the possibility of financial aid? Most private
schools have scholarship programs and I'm pretty sure that
Tehiyah does. If they can't offer you assistance with tuition,
you have a hard choice, but not an impossible one. You are
lucky to have a better public school option than most of us do;
Albany public schools are supposed to be among the best. If the
lifestyle compromises required to pay for Tehiyah would make
your family unhappy, don't make them -- go with the public
If your child has special needs / learning differences / might
need an IEP (individualized education plan) then I would advise
that you give public school a serious consideration. We have
not had good experiences at Tehiyah with regards to the
teachers' and the administration's ability and willingness to
modify the program for children with learning differences. We
have had to spend a lot of money on outside services, tutoring
and therapy, etc. some of which would be provided by BUSD if we
were enrolled in public school. So if finances are a concern
for you, the possibility of these extras should be factored in
to your decision.
There is a lot of variability amongst the teachers at Tehiyah,
some have been helpful, some ineffectual, and some actually
damaging to my child's self esteem. We have received a lot of
lip service when advocating for changes, but in my experience
the school does not ''walk the talk''.
[Editor] See Tehiyah Day School reviews for a response
to this discussion.
A Better Chance does offer aid to disadvantaged and minority students to
I don't know their phone, but you should be able to get it from information.
You know, some of the Montessori schools offer scholarships of various
kinds. Nia House in Berkeley has a good scholarship program, although a
long waiting list. Growing Light Montessori offers discounts to single
parents and other sorts of scholarships as well. Generally there are
waiting lists for this type of thing; but then again, this is probably
going to be an ongoing issue for your daughter. Might be worth getting on
some waiting lists. -- Mary Carol
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