With various fees and expenses associated with private K-12 schools, financial aid and scholarships help families afford their preferred educational setting for their children. Private school offers many benefits for students, helping them get the attention and academic rigor they need to succeed.
In This Article
- Finding Scholarships for Private K-12 Schools
- Specified Types of Private School Scholarships
- Private School Scholarships for Students in Special Circumstances
- Private School Scholarships Frequently Asked Questions
- How Can Families and Students Qualify for Private School Scholarships?
- Are Scholarships and Financial Aid Only for Private High Schools?
- How Can Families Apply for Private School Scholarships?
- What Are the Best Scholarships for Private Schools?
- When Should Families Start Applying for Scholarships?
- What GPA Do Students Need to Get a Full Scholarship?
- How Do Students Improve Their Chances of Winning Private School Scholarships?
- How Many Scholarships Can Students Get?
- Manage Financial Aid Assessment and Awarding With TADS
Finding Scholarships for Private K-12 Schools
Many families are interested in financial aid and scholarships for K-12 schools, but are unsure what is available to them and how to get financial aid for private schools. Learn more about the comprehensive and plentiful financial aid opportunities offered to private school students and families.
Contact the School’s Financial Aid Office
If you are interested in receiving or applying for financial aid, get in touch with the school’s financial aid office. Private schools offer many types of financial aid—from funds set up by the school to sponsored K-12 scholarships from alumni, other families, and community members. The financial aid office is a great place for families and students to start, helping them review their options and develop more positive relationships with the school.
While private school tuition assistance is not guaranteed, financial aid offices can be very knowledgeable about the subject. Administrators and staff can help connect families and students with additional resources and leads they can research and pursue, so they can receive essential or additional funding. Families can learn how to get scholarships for private schools to support their child’s entire K-12 education.
Investigate National Scholarship Resources
The federal government offers many programs and grants for private K-12 school students. Each has unique eligibility qualifications that your family can explore to determine which option best serves your needs. While many organizations take a general approach with their applications, others create a more specified cause aiming to draw in students from specific backgrounds and with unique skills.
While there are many opportunities for students from various organizations and federal programs for private schools across the country, they are often more competitive. Unless you find niche grants for private school tuition, you should consider applying to multiple opportunities to optimize your chances of receiving funding.
Apply to Local, State, and Regional Scholarships
State and local governments and private organizations post many K-12 scholarships for private school students seeking financial aid and assistance. Because they are local, they can better understand the needs of the population.
These K-12 scholarship programs are still competitive, but they can sometimes help increase the student’s chances because they decrease the eligibility pool to the locality. Whereas students applying to national scholarships will have to compete with applicants across the country, students and families targeting these opportunities might only have to compete with their town, city, county, state, or geographical region.
The school’s financial aid office can help you find local, state, and regional scholarship opportunities that apply to your situation. Review local resources, financial aid pages, or blogs to discover more scholarships and find ways to support your child’s private school education.
Research Privately-Funded Vouchers
When you need additional sources of scholarships, the school can direct you toward vouchers. Private organizations, nonprofits, and businesses develop and publish scholarships to help their communities or others in need. These options are especially helpful for states and localities with minimal scholarships available for private school students. However, like other systems offering tuition assistance for K-12 private schools, vouchers are competitive and will have unique eligibility standards students and families must meet.
Voucher programs have varying coverage for time and amount. Vouchers might only provide financial assistance for a specific length of time, which might not span your student’s entire private K-12 education. While some vouchers can offer comprehensive financial assistance, some might require you to pay a portion of your child’s tuition or a flat rate fee.
Because they can be harder to research, private school financial aid teams can help families and students by locating excellent options available to them. They can share scholarships for private K-12 schools directly with those interested in vouchers or other alternative financial aid methods, or they may publish them online alongside other financial aid information.
Invest in 529 Plans
A 529 plan is not a scholarship but an account a family can sign up for and contribute to throughout their student’s life to support their education. While this financial aid system used to only cover higher education, families can now use them for K-12 schooling.
529 plans are run by the states, and any funds in the account or used in education-related withdrawals are not taxable, which can make them very appealing to families. There are no income level limits on who can contribute, so any family can open an account for their child and start giving money. States will set limits on how much you can add to accounts at any given point, but the general rule for K-12 withdrawals is $10,000 annually.
Because the states administer 529 plans, they each have unique requirements. Many states have yet to instate 529 plan applicability for K-12 education and still only offer it for higher education. Check online for your state’s rules and eligibility requirements.
Contribute to Coverdell ESAs
Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) are another supplementary financial plan for families who want to contribute toward private K-12 education. Your family can use them for tuition or other education-related costs, like uniforms, textbooks, or yearly school supplies, making them more flexible and helpful than other options. Like 529 plans, Coverdell ESAs are tax-free for earnings and withdrawals.
Contrary to other educational financial plans, Coverdell ESAs have more requirements and restrictions, including:
- Contribution amounts: Individuals can only add $2000 annually to a Coverdell ESA for a student. Families can open several accounts to support a student’s education, but this maximum applies to all eligible accounts for any beneficiary. However, anyone can open an account for students and make these contributions.
- Income limits: Family filing and modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) will determine if you can contribute to Coverdell ESAs on behalf of your student. If you are a single-status filer, you must make below $95,000 annually to qualify, while joint filers must make below $190,000. Families that make more than these thresholds might have further limitations on their annual contributions.
- Statute of limitations: Students should also be aware of any Coverdell ESAs opened with them as beneficiaries. Students must use funds before they reach 30, or the account will be subject to fees and taxes. While K-12 students might feel that is far off, knowing this aspect of the account can make private K-12 schools a worthy investment.
Specified Types of Private School Scholarships
While families can find scholarships and financial aid in many forms, scholarships and financial aid qualifications and eligibility standards and practices create many types that students can target and choose from. Knowing the different types of private school scholarships can help families locate options that better fit their needs or match their existing qualifications for higher chances of securing financial aid.
Scholarships at Private Religious Schools
Many families pursuing a private education do so for the religious elements many private and independent schools can offer. Students and families can better connect with their faith through their education with classes that explore their religions through classes, teachers, and peers with like-minded beliefs. Further, students and families seeking out religious private K-12 schools can find and use scholarships created for these schools.
Religious organizations and nonprofits can provide scholarships for individuals in their communities and faiths, encouraging students to integrate their religion into their education and learn more about it. Most religious private educational scholarships are from religious groups themselves. For example, Catholic students might obtain scholarships for private Christian schools from their local diocese.
If you are interested in this type of scholarship, you can connect with local groups or religious institutions that offer financial aid.
Scholarships Awarded Through Private Competition
Many organizations and companies offer fun competitions where the prize is scholarship money or financial aid intended for education. Because these organizations are often for-profit, they might have more funds they can use for scholarships and donations. The competition element helps organizations and businesses identify the students who they feel are most deserving while also encouraging students to get creative or active in their communities.
Private competition scholarships can be open to nationwide applications or through local organizations that want to give back to their communities. As the name implies, these scholarships will be highly competitive, with many students giving their all. Many scholarships have more generalized eligibility standards for age, income level, or other factors, and instead encourage students to showcase their talents or unique qualities.
Academic scholarships award financial aid to students who demonstrate excellent academic performance. Students who have amazing grades can qualify for the funds they need to continue their education or heighten their studies by allowing them to attend more rigorous schools and programs.
While grades are common, academic scholarships can also include student performance in specific studies. Students can enter science fairs, essay contests, and spelling bees to demonstrate their skills and earn scholarships. Many schools host these types of scholarships or partner with organizations that fund them — contact your school’s financial aid for information about these opportunities.
Students are multi-faceted people with many talents and skills that often extend beyond education. Many students participate in unique and interesting extracurriculars that set them apart from their peers. For these individuals, non-academic scholarships can celebrate their skills and talents with funds for their education or even programs that support their interests.
Non-academic scholarships are diverse, with options for the following topics:
- Computer science and coding
- Art, music, and theater
- Athletic performance
- Community engagement and volunteering
Because non-academic scholarships can exist for very niche interests, students can support their interests and education with this type of financial aid. Schools can help connect students and families with non-academic scholarships by assessing interests and hobbies in students during onboarding and later, highlighting opportunities that align with their skills.
Private School Scholarships for Students in Special Circumstances
Students are diverse with various backgrounds and needs, so scholarships often tailor their requirements and eligibility standards to match their target audience. This method can also help students and families find the right scholarships and financial aid programs for them to better support their students’ educational needs.
1. Special Needs Students
Students with special needs often thrive in private schools with extra attention and resources dedicated to their needs and education. With the ability to choose private schools, families can also find the schools, teachers, and programs that have what their child needs, rather than hoping their public school district has the resources and budget to accommodate.
Organizations offer scholarships and financial aid to students with special needs to cover many types of costs. Many provide tuition coverage, so students can attend the private K-12 of their choice, while others help accommodate the various expenses specific to their needs. For example, scholarships for blind students might help cover text readers and other technology that schools might lack, so they can better learn and thrive in their educational environment.
Like many other scholarship types, scholarships for students with special needs are diverse to reach many groups and need. They can come from private businesses or nonprofits that specialize in helping students with special needs.
2. Minority Students
Financial aid and scholarships can be impactful to minority students to help increase their access to the educational environment of their choosing. Families and students from minority backgrounds can use financial aid and scholarships to pursue and support private education.
3. Students From Low-Income Families
While you might assume that scholarships and financial aid are only for low-income families, many are open to students of all financial backgrounds. This system can help all students receive the funding they need to attend private K-12 schools, but it can also increase competition, making it harder for students from low-income families to receive scholarships.
To combat this problem, some programs and providers will set income limits on their applications, much like the ones for the Coverdell ESAs. These eligibility factors can ensure that only families who earn below a certain threshold can receive the scholarship funds. Families can find these private school scholarships for low-income families anywhere, but you have to pay close attention to the qualification standards.
Because schools often collect financial information from families during admission and enrollment to set up tuition payments, schools can use this data to identify lower-income families and direct them toward scholarship and financial aid programs.
Frequently Asked Questions About Private School Scholarships
Scholarships and financial aid are complicated topics that can be challenging to navigate, especially when related to private K-12 education. These frequently asked questions can better prepare families in their search for scholarships and financial aid.
1. How Can Families and Students Qualify for Private School Scholarships?
Scholarships all have unique qualifying materials, depending on the provider’s goals, funds available, and level of competition. Families will likely have to read through the fine print before determining if they can apply for that scholarship or qualify for financial aid.
At the most basic level, students looking in need of financial aid for private school education will need to be a student in or about to enter K-12 schooling and want to attend a private school. Many scholarships and financial aid programs will often require students to be U.S. citizens.
Other common eligibility requirements might include:
- Income limits
- GPA requirements or other academic standards
- Age limits
- Locality and distance
Because each scholarship is unique, families and financial aid teams must research and read carefully before submitting applications to optimize efforts.
2. Are Scholarships and Financial Aid Only for Private High Schools?
Some families might believe that scholarships and financial aid for private schools are only available to high school students. While some scholarships and financial aid opportunities with age restrictions limit applications to current and rising high school students, others are open to all students or even specified for elementary and middle schoolers. Like other financial aid and scholarship opportunities, families must consider age and grade level eligibility factors.
Private school financial aid offices can help families find applications that fit their students.
3. How Can Families Apply for Private School Scholarships?
The application process for scholarships and financial aid can differ depending on the source of the funds. Most organizations and groups have unique application processes through their sites and platforms, requiring families to go through their portals to receive funds. Your school might even include financial aid and scholarship applications within their admissions application, simplifying the process for your family.
4. What Are the Best Scholarships for Private Schools?
Any scholarship designed for private school students can greatly benefit their education. Because each scholarship is unique and offers different types of support, there isn’t one single option that is the best. However, some options might better serve different families and students depending on their backgrounds and needs.
5. When Should Families Start Applying for Scholarships?
The sooner, the better. Many families open 529 plans and Coverdell ESAs when their children are young so they can fund their education once their child reaches the right age. Especially if students need to cover multiple years of their private school education with scholarships, these accounts can support long-term use, whereas traditional scholarships and financial aid will require families to reapply every year.
Typically, families will apply for scholarships before or while they apply to private K-12 schools. Look for information on financial aid services during the school open house or information sessions for interested families.
6. What GPA Do Students Need to Get a Full Scholarship?
GPA requirements will depend on the individual scholarship and provider standards. While some scholarships require students to have an excellent and competitive GPA, others might not assess students on their grades. Many scholarships ask students to submit essays, videos, documentation of volunteer service, financial information, or other information to determine eligibility. Instead, families should focus on finding scholarships that fit their students and their strengths.
7. How Do Students Improve Their Chances of Winning Private School Scholarships?
While there is no easy way to secure a scholarship, students can better their chances by paying close attention to the eligibility factors and level of competitiveness on scholarship applications. Students can increase their chances by applying for scholarships with qualifying factors closely matching their lives and looking for less competitive options. Increasing the volume of applications you submit can also boost your chances of receiving some funding.
8. How Many Scholarships Can Students Get?
Students can receive as many scholarships as they need to support their education. Many schools and financial aid offices recommend applying to as many scholarships as students can find and handle to optimize their chances of getting the funding they need.
Manage Financial Aid Assessment and Awarding With TADS
TADS offers a comprehensive suite of school software for private K-12s, helping streamline essential operations like financial aid. Our financial aid assessment solution can help administrators quickly review family and student eligibility standards to see if they fit your qualifications and award scholarships to determined accounts. The solution also streamlines processes for families and students seeking financial aid, simplifying requirements like submitting tax forms and integrating with TADS Admission and Enrollment.
Request a demo today and discover how private schools can streamline financial aid granting with TADS.