Country Life Blog

Financial Aid at Private Schools

Understanding Financial Aid at Private School

The price tag of tuition at private schools may be daunting, but don’t let cost keep you from applying. Thanks to private school financial aid opportunities, students of all socioeconomic levels can benefit from an independent school education. Through rigorous academics, enriching extracurricular offerings, and meaningful faculty-student relationships unavailable elsewhere, an independent school education can be a transformative experience. Tuition need not be a barrier if a child is mission-matched and funding is available.

How Does Financial Aid at Private School Work?

What is financial aid in private schools? 

Financial aid is funding that doesn't come from family or personal savings or earnings to pay for tuition. Financial aid includes grants, work-study, loans, and scholarships.

Do you have to pay back financial aid?
In short, no. Financial aid is not a loan; families are not expected to repay financial aid. 

How Does Financial Aid at Private School Work?
Private schools partner with financial aid providers to simplify the financial aid process. Clarity is Country School's financial aid application provider. Interested families go online to Clarity and create an account. The application typically takes less than 30 minutes to complete. 
Families need to complete only one Clarity application per household per year, and they must submit a Clarity application each year in order to qualify for financial aid.

A family’s level of financial need is based on the information that they share in the application which includes assets, income, expenses, and debts. Utilizing Clarity, fewer documents need to be uploaded because the system is able to confirm income and tax filings confidentially and directly, simplifying the process. In the past, W2s and 1040s were required. Now a family gives permission for Clarity to receive transcripts directly from the IRS.

When do I have to apply for financial aid? 
Each year families have to submit an application for financial aid, and this is typically done in January/February. The deadline for completing the financial aid application for 2024 including relevant supplemental documents is January 3, 2024, for current families and February 1, 2024, for new families.
Who can qualify for financial aid? 
Families are often surprised that even those with a healthy income and living in the area surrounding Country School often qualify for some amount of financial aid. In fact, 26% of Country School students qualify for some amount of aid. Factors considered in determining financial need include income, expenses, assets, liabilities, and family size, number of students attending tuition-charging institutions.

How do I apply for financial aid? 
To get started with the process, begin by visiting the Financial Aid page on The Country School website to identify and apply for scholarships. Search online to find available scholarships in Madison, CT, that are right for your family, and take advantage of online resources to find tips for crafting a compelling scholarship application.

Non-Need Based Scholarships 
Beyond financial aid awards, private schools may offer scholarships not based on need. The Country School offers two non-need-based scholarships:
  • The Archimedes Scholarship is awarded to motivated, talented students who will strive to do their best academically and actively participate in The Country School community. We are excited to offer the Archimedes Scholarship to multiple students who are in the top of the applicant pool entering Grades 4-8. Applicants must demonstrate good citizenship, exhibit outstanding academic potential in their academic records and testing, and show evidence of community involvement.
  • Merit scholarships are awarded to new students and are renewed each year that the students are enrolled at The Country School, provided the recipients stay in strong academic standing and consistently demonstrate good citizenship. It is The Country School's expectation that the merit scholarship recipients will contribute significantly to the life of The Country School, creating a stronger overall experience for all students. Additional financial aid may be available based upon need.

Financial Aid FAQs

List of 5 items.

  • Are Assets Factored into the Financial Aid Equation?

    A household’s assets may include any of the following:

    • Cash: The amount of liquid cash a family has available.
    • Savings: Non-retirement savings accounts, including health accounts, money market accounts, and high-yield savings accounts
    • Home equity: Equity in the household’s primary residence
    • Real estate: Equity in investment properties in addition to the primary residence
    • Stocks and bonds: Includes stock market investments or collected bonds of any type, including government, corporate, agency, or municipal.
    • Securities: Trading assets in addition to stocks and bonds, including ETF shares, certificates of deposit (CDs), or futures
    • Vehicles: The value of any automotive vehicle that belongs to someone in the household.
    • Retirement savings: Accounts include a 401(k), an IRA, or a 403(b).

    Given the uncertain state of the economy, it’s unrealistic for private schools to expect families — especially young ones — to have high assets. As a result, private schools set reasonable expectations for each household’s living expenses and assets.
  • Do Income and Expenses Matter?

    While there exist no universal income limits for private school financial aid, the total household income stands out as the predominant factor shaping a student's financial aid package. Household income encompasses a parent's wages, Social Security benefits, tax refunds, and interest earned on savings. Generally, a higher income implies a greater capacity for families to contribute, yet larger households may require more aid, especially when enrolling multiple children in private school.
    To understand the balance between a household's income and expenses, schools assess both fixed and variable costs. Fixed expenses, such as home maintenance, utilities, insurance, tax payments, and savings, remain consistent from month to month. Variable expenses, encompassing items like gas, groceries, vehicle maintenance, health care, and entertainment, tend to fluctuate based on changing needs and external economic factors.
    Examples of fixed expenses:
    • Home maintenance
    • Utilities
    • Insurance
    • Tax payments
    • Savings
    Examples of variable expenses:
    • Gas
    • Groceries
    • Vehicle maintenance
    • Health care
    • Entertainment
    These costs can vary depending on a private school's policies regarding household expenses and the local cost of living.
  • Does the Number of Children Enrolled Affect Financial Aid?

    Generally speaking, most large families have greater financial needs than those with fewer children. However, The Country School does not offer sibling discounts.
  • How Is Financial Aid Determined?

    Calculating how much aid a private school offers each student is a thoughtful and detailed process that can be broken down into three simple steps:

    Expected Contribution
    The private school begins by deducting the family's regular expenses from their total income. This step helps assess the financial capacity of the family to contribute to the student's education.

    Additional Information
    Taking into account any external aid the student has received, such as scholarships or gifts from relatives, is the next crucial step. This additional information contributes to the comprehensive evaluation of the student's financial situation.

    The final step involves subtracting both the expected contribution and any additional aid from the private school's tuition. This calculation results in the determined financial aid award for the student, reflecting a balance between the family's financial capabilities and the overall cost of education.
  • What Factors Play Into a Household’s Financial Aid Package?

    Determining a household's financial need involves various factors, with some holding greater significance than others. The primary influencers in the calculation of financial aid awards are total income, expenses, and assets. Additionally, the number of children from a single household enrolled in a school may be taken into consideration.

    In certain cases, private school students may secure scholarships from external organizations. While obtaining a scholarship doesn't affect a student's eligibility for aid, it does diminish their financial need. Consequently, the financial aid package they receive is likely to be smaller.
Financial aid for private school is readily available to families in need. Clarity provides a simple path to beginning the financial aid process and completing the financial aid application. Don’t assume your family will not qualify for financial aid. The equation is fair and awards are provided to those who prove a real need for assistance. Planning ahead and meeting deadlines are crucial. Learn more about financial aid at The Country School and begin your application today.
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341 Opening Hill Road, Madison, CT 06443
P. 203-421-3113  |  F. 203-421-4390  |  Health Office F. 860-469-2550
Founded in 1955, The Country School is a coeducational, independent school serving students in PreSchool-Grade 8. The Country School is committed to active, hands-on learning and a vigorous curriculum that engages the whole child.