Demystifying the Day School Financial Aid Process


Culture, camaraderie, excellent education with a social justice lens: Jewish day schools are appealing for many reasons. But then there is the matter of affording them. I have heard from many parents (and administrators) that there is a problem of economic perception among day schools. They are believed to be beyond the reach of ordinary people.

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Fortunately, this is not necessarily true. Many day schools offer strong, low-key, grant-based financial assistance programs for families of all income levels. If you’re considering a day school, but are also understandably concerned about affordability, here are some things to consider.

You may qualify for assistance even if you have a healthy income.

“Families with large incomes can still qualify for tuition assistance, especially when they have multiple children in day schools,” says the chairman of the community day school’s flexible tuition committee. Jewish (anonymous on request).

“The first piece of advice I would give is to never disqualify yourself or assume that you wouldn’t qualify for financial aid,” agrees Isaac Judd, chief operating officer at Gann Academy. “Boston is expensive. School is expensive, and especially as Jews, there are many other costs: camps, synagogue memberships. All the schools I know have a holistic view of the big picture. »

For example, Gann’s Within Reach program offers financial assistance options for families with incomes up to $600,000, depending on factors such as the number of children in school (including college).

The Rashi School’s Realize Rashi program is also open to families earning less than $600,000 with net assets below $500,000, not including retirement savings or their primary residence. This is important because many families bought homes years ago and equity has skyrocketed.

“We don’t want anyone selling their house to afford a Rashi education,” says Rashi Admissions Director Ilyssa Frey.

Ask for examples of financial aid packages.

It’s not curious. Administrators should be prepared to give you a ballpark figure based on similar families.

“We certainly provide average prices and ranges for people based on adjusted gross income and number of children. Ask: can you give me some sort of rough comparison with the families that fall into this bucket? What can I be expected to pay about? suggests Judd.

Rashi’s Frey agrees.

“What worries us the most is a family that never even comes to talk to us,” she says. At the beginning of your admissions process, ask how many children are receiving help and if your family could potentially receive any form of help.

More than income alone can be considered in a financial aid program. Schools can also look at parents’ student debt, parents’ age, distance from retirement, and other assets or properties.

The process is confidential.

Every admin I spoke with pointed this out. Many schools use School & Student Services software to objectively calculate aid programs.

“I don’t think there is any stigma at all. We have a very confidential process. The Financial Aid Committee is small and we absolutely respect confidentiality and privacy. And there’s no one else in the school who knows anything about a family’s financial aid status,” Frey says.

At most schools, financial aid is also blind to need, which means that applying for financial aid will not affect your chances of admission in any way.

Financial aid is flexible.

Schools may adjust their assistance program if you experience a job loss or a drop in income. This is especially important because children may enter a school in kindergarten and exit in their teens, a time when finances can fluctuate.

Be upfront about your finances.

There is no judgment here. Transparency is important. “Sharing the requested details about your situation makes it easier for the school to help,” explains the member of the JCDS aid committee.

Learn about alternatives to traditional financial aid.

In Rashi, for example, where $2 million in aid is distributed to 35% of children every year, there are programs such as a clergy incentive program, where clergy children receive $6,000 a year. for tuition fees. In Gann, a pioneering program awards $20,000 to ninth graders and $10,000 to 10th graders who have attended public school since at least sixth grade, to make the transition to private school more affordable.

Above all, administrators say helping families of all means afford a Jewish education is a top priority, and the schools have robust aid programs through a variety of channels, from donors to fundraisers. active annuals.

“Our goal is to try to reach families who want an education steeped in religious or values-based beliefs. All kinds of families can and should be part of our community,” says Frey.

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