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How to Make Private School Affordable: A Parent’s Guide

How to afford private school tuition

How much does private school for children cost? Recent research suggests the national averages for private school tuition are $11,660 for elementary and $16,144 for secondary school—and those numbers can soar higher depending on location and school selection. 

For most families, that’s a steep price tag, especially if you have more than one child enrolled. Fortunately, we’ve put together a list of seven helpful tips on how to raise money for private school and afford private school tuition, so you can make the most of your child’s education.

1. Research private scholarships

When you’re wondering how to pay for private school tuition, start with scholarships. There are a host of them, based on: 

  • Demographics
  • Financial need
  • Academic achievement
  • Accomplishments in music, science, or other fields
  • Athletic performance
  • Community engagement

Start with your school’s financial aid office, and do some internet research to locate: 

  • School-specific scholarships from alumni, other families, and community members
  • Private organizations’ vouchers and scholarships
  • National and federal scholarship programs
  • State and local government scholarships.
2. Raise money with gift card fundraising

A gift card fundraising program like RaiseRight can provide year-round tuition assistance with minimal investment. This fundraising tactic doesn’t require you to sell goods or spend extra time planning events, and many families can easily earn $1,000 or more each year.

Here’s how it works: if your private school raises funds with RaiseRight, you would simply purchase gift cards through your account, set up by your school’s fundraising manager. RaiseRight works with hundreds of brands, each offering a percentage (anywhere from 1-20%) back to your school’s program. Instead of reaching for your credit card every time you shop or dine out, just use gift cards to pay!  

You’ll find RaiseRight gift cards for:

  • Major retailers including Amazon, Target, and Walmart
  • Gas
  • Groceries and household goods
  • Tools and DIY products
  • Delivery, shopping, and transportation apps and services
  • Restaurants
  • Shoes and clothing
  • Sporting goods and apparel
  • Entertainment including streaming services 

The schools can then distribute what your family earns as needed; for example, 20% for supporting school administrative costs and 80% applied directly toward your child’s tuition fees.

RaiseRight is flexible, offering both physical and eGift cards. You can also opt for digital gift cards that you can refill easily through our app.

raise money for tuition with RaiseRight

3. Apply for state vouchers

Another way to make private school affordable for your family? Take advantage of state resources, like ESAs or tax credits

If you’re in one of the 15 states that currently offer them, state vouchers might cover all or part of the cost of private school tuition. 

There are some limiting factors, however. By state, these include: 

  • Arkansas – Students with special needs, in foster care, or in military families
  • Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Utah – Students with special needs
  • Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont – Small towns without public schools.
Low-income, or low- and middle-income, families may qualify for vouchers in: 

4. Negotiate tuition rates

You might also consider discussing tuition rates with your school’s financial aid representative. They may have some flexibility related to income level or financial hardship. 

Explain your situation, be transparent about what you can and cannot afford, and ask how they can help your child become an alumnus of their school.

5. Negotiate payment plans

In the same visit as rates, check whether payment plans can help you afford tuition. You may be able to make 12 monthly payments instead of by semester or make reduced payments over a longer period of time. 

If you have the cash to do so, ask whether a discount could be available with prepayment.

6. Set up a 529 plan

Anyone can set up and contribute to a 529 savings plan to fund a child’s schooling. While deposits aren’t federally tax-deductible, they may be deductible or otherwise offer tax benefits at a state level. Plus, withdrawals aren’t generally taxable when used for school-related costs, even as money grows in the account.

The plans are regulated within each state, so rules and structures vary. Most states’ plans now allow you to use the funds for K-12 tuition in addition to college, although some have been slow to adopt this change. The good news is that you can choose to use a plan in your own state or any other. Additionally, family and friends can also help fund a 529 plan. 

However, keep in mind that most states limit withdrawals to $10,000 annually per account.

7. Take out loans

Funding elementary or secondary education with loans requires a calculator and some hard thinking. Ask whether it would: 

  • Limit your ability to assist with any planned support for college funding
  • Risk the loss of critical assets
  • Incur total interest costs that are beyond a particular school’s value.

One of the most common loans used to fund education is a home equity loan or line of credit (HELOC). With enough equity, a solid credit score, and a good debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, you should be able to land an interest rate much lower than an unsecured loan or line of credit.

Partner with RaiseRight for private school tuition help

With these tips, you can ensure your child receives the best education while keeping your budget in check.

If your school doesn’t already use RaiseRight, consider: 

Then, encourage your child’s school to get started for free with a gift card fundraising program that can directly reduce your tuition payments.