Sending a child to a private school is a huge decision to make. And, although it can have outstanding benefits for your child's education, the tuition costs at any of these schools can be alarmingly expensive, with national averages for private elementary schools around $8,918 per year and high schools coming in at about $13,524 per year. On top of it all, if you're a single parent, your money can especially be tight. Luckily for you, though, there are a few options you can choose from to help offset those pricey costs.
First of all, the schools you are looking into most likely have their own scholarships and grants available for you to possibly acquire. One among these could be merit grants or scholarships, which are given to students who already perform exceedingly well in school, receive outstanding grades, and manage to stay in the top percentage of their class. Another type of grant that can be awarded is the need-based grant, a grant given to low-income families who cannot financially afford private school tuition. These are a great grant for single parent families to snag, as they are often given away to such. You can call the schools that interest you and inquire about these scholarships and grants, or you can visit their websites and search for them yourself.
Secondly, many different types of programs are available to help families pay for private school in each state. Many states, though not all, offer vouchers to assist with costs, although they typically don't cover every expense. Also, vouchers in some states are very difficult to obtain because they have long waiting lists and are in limited supply.
An alternative to vouchers, though, that states may provide are education savings accounts (ESAs), the most popular among private school students being the Coverdell Education Savings Account. Coverdell accounts are meant to be college savings accounts for students, but they also offer benefits for the students while they are attending K-12 private schools.
In addition, a number of states also offer tax-credit scholarships, which award tax credits to individuals after they give money to nonprofit scholarship granting organizations (SGOs) or student tuition organizations (STOs). Along with the tax credit, then, students can also apply for scholarships from SGOs and STOs themselves after giving the organizations money. Some states also offer tax deductions and tuition tax credits for families whose children are attending private schools in general as well.
If you have a student with special educational needs, you may also be eligible to receive aid to help send him or her to a private school. All states are required by law to provide public educational services for children with special needs, and if the public schools in your area do not meet your child's specific learning requirements, then you may be able to receive a grant from your state's Department of Education to fulfill his or her needs through a private school.
Finally, you can also receive aid to pay for your child's private education through local, regional, and national scholarships. The number of scholarships available from these locations are vast, but here are a few of the most prominent programs:
• The Young Scholars Program from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, a scholarship awarded to high-ability middle and high school students.
• The Children's Scholarship Fund, a program awarding aid for families with children in elementary school with low family income.
• A Better Chance, a scholarship for students of color with outstanding academic performance in grades 4 through 9.
• Black Student Fund (BSF), a program granting funds to black students in all grades Pre-K to 12.
• The Children's Educational Opportunity Fund (CEO America), an organization that provides grants and scholarships for low-income families in Pennsylvania.
• Step Up For Students, a similar organization for low-income families in Florida.
Remember that you will need proof of income, tax forms, and your child's academic records when you apply for any grants, scholarships, or aid for private schooling. Above all, though, your child's education is important, and, although being a single parent may make you feel disadvantaged, you are certainly able to receive the help you need to pay for it.