Get­ting the fi­nan­cial aid you need

How to man­age pri­vate school tu­ition

The Kids Post - - School 101 -

Al­though tu­ition fees are un­de­ni­ably high — par­ents can ex­pect to spend any­where from $5,000 for day school to more than $50,000 at some board­ing schools — it’s a com­mon mis­con­cep­tion that pri­vate school is only within reach for a se­lect few. Many cash­con­scious par­ents send their chil­dren to pub­lic schools think­ing it is their only op­tion, but ac­cord­ing to ex­perts, there is a con­sid­er­able amount of tu­ition money doled out by schools and other or­ga­ni­za­tions. The key is to go af­ter it.


The very tal­ent you’re try­ing to nur­ture in your child could se­cure a schol­ar­ship to off­set at least a por­tion of tu­ition fees. Pri­vate schools are of­ten seek­ing to in­vest in promis­ing stu­dents who ex­cel in aca­demics and/or ath­let­ics.

For this rea­son, par­ents should look for schools based on their child’s skills be­fore find­ing the schools of­fer­ing the high­est dol­lar amount.


A pop­u­lar op­tion for par­ents seek­ing as­sis­tance is bur­saries. Al­though schol­ar­ships are gen­er­ally merit-based awards and can be given to stu­dents for a range of rea­sons, in­clud­ing aca­demic ex­cel­lence, spe­cial abil­ity in arts or ex­cep­tional ath­letic per­for­mance, bur­saries are gen­er­ally awarded on a needs ba­sis, pro­vid­ing par­ents with re­lief by re­duc­ing the an­nual school fees sig­nif­i­cantly.

It de­pends on the school — some of­fer only small dis­counts, while other schools cover up to 100 per cent.

A large num­ber of schools in the GTA de­cide how to dis­trib­ute bur­saries with help from Fi­nan­cial Aid for Cana­dian Stu­dents (FACS), an in­de­pen­dent or­ga­ni­za­tion that eval­u­ates the fis­cal needs of fam­i­lies ap­ply­ing for fi­nan­cial aid and pro­vides rec­om­men­da­tions back to the schools in the form of a par­ents’ fi­nan­cial state­ment (PFS).

Par­ents can ap­ply to FACS di­rectly through Ap­ple Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices, an in­de­pen­dent third party. The cost of the PFS anal­y­sis to par­ents is $115 for the first school and $15 for each ad­di­tional school. The ul­ti­mate de­ci­sion and sub­se­quent fund­ing is then han­dled by the school’s fi­nan­cial aid com­mit­tee.

One school that uses FACSs is Brank­some Hall where tu­ition fees start at over $32,000. Direc­tor of En­rol­ment Man­age­ment at the school, Kim­berly Carter, says the school of­fers over $1 mil­lion in funds each year for needs-based bur­saries and merit-based schol­ar­ships for ap­pli­cants.

“At Brank­some Hall, all ad­mis­sions de­ci­sions are ‘ needs­blind’, so ap­ply­ing for fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance does not im­pact your ap­pli­ca­tion to join the school,” says Carter.

Brank­some Hall’s bur­saries, like those of many schools, are limited and given on a first-come, first­served ba­sis, so fam­i­lies are en­cour­aged to ap­ply early.

Tax breaks

For fam­i­lies that don’t qual­ify for bur­saries, there are al­ter­nate av­enues to ex­plore. In On­tario, a num­ber of tax de­duc­tions are avail­able for dif­fer­ent schools, pro­grams and cir­cum­stances, which could ease the strain on the hip pocket.

For ex­am­ple, Canada Rev­enue Agency of­fers some tax cred­its on tu­ition to schools that pro­vide both aca­demic and re­li­gious ed­u­ca­tion as long as it is reg­is­tered as a char­ity or linked with an­other or­ga­ni­za­tion that of­fers tax breaks.

If it is a med­i­cal ne­ces­sity for a child to at­tend a spe­cial fa­cil­ity or if men­tal or phys­i­cal needs re­quire a child to at­tend a cer­tain school, tax re­lief can be pro­vided in these in­stances as well.


Hav­ing to con­tem­plate put­ting more than one child through pri­vate school may be a com­pli­cat­ing fac­tor. But it doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily have to pack twice the punch when it comes to the pock­et­book. For fam­i­lies with one child en­rolled at a pri­vate school and an­other on the way, be ad­vised that a large num­ber of schools of­fer dis­counts of around five to 10 per cent off the fees of the younger stu­dent.

Do­ing the math

If, at the end of the day, you still can’t crunch the num­bers, it can be help­ful to speak to a fi­nan­cial plan­ner or go straight to the school to see if there’s any­thing it can rec­om­mend.

“It de­pends on the school — some of­fer only small dis­counts, while oth­ers cover up to 100 per cent.”

There are re­sources avail­able for those who once thought pri­vate schools were out of reach

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