How to Find Private School Grants?

Often when people think of grants and scholarships, they think mostly in terms of college level education. But private schools can be as expensive, or even more so, than many post secondary institutions. Parents often need as much help with affording tuition in these situations as with affording college. So it’s important to know how to go about finding free money – scholarships – for private secondary schools (i.e. high schools) as well as for college. The ability to find free money can be a really decisive factor in whether parents can afford the private school of their choice for their child or children.

Anyone in search of grant money will be happy to know there is quite a bit of scholarship money offered for secondary education. Grant money is offered by a wide range of private and government sources. The following are some important pointers and tips on finding scholarship money for your child:

Check with the School’s Financial Aid Office

This is perhaps the most important tip of all. In this internet age we’re getting more and more used to looking for things by ourselves online. But the financial aid advisor at the school to which your child is considering applying has the specific job of finding out and informing you of what your financial aid options are. Even if you are merely vaguely considering having your child apply to particular private school, it doesn’t hurt to talk to a financial advisor at the school. The advisor often does a quite thorough and focused job of pinpointing your financial aid and scholarship options for you without your having to do a lot of legwork.

With this in mind as a general background, we’ll look at some more specific sources of grant money. The financial aid advisor will most likely be able to inform you of these him or herself. After you’ve exhausted all the financial aid advisor’s suggestions, then is probably the time to do your own further research.

So, here are some sources of scholarship money that either you or a private school’s financial aid advisor should be able to find:

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The School Itself May Offer Scholarships

Many private schools themselves offer financial aid in the form of scholarships. They usually base these scholarships primarily on a combination of your child’s academic performance and financial hardship or need on the part of the parents. So if your child is has superior grades and/or extracurricular achievements, you’re in a much better position to receive a scholarship award.

Another thing to know about the awards given by private schools is that the higher a school’s endowment, the more it can usually afford to contribute toward students’ tuition. Endowments are large contributions to schools and other organizations from private sources with various stipulations regarding how they are to be used or invested.

In some of the prestigious private schools, tuition is even free for parents beneath a certain income level. How can they afford to do this? Because their endowments are so large that this, combined with the tuitions from rich parents, gives them more money than they need. Many wealthy private schools have such thriving endowments they would rather make it possible for promising students to attend their school than make a little extra profit from tuitions. Good students are what make a school flourish from an educational standpoint and attract more distinguished applicants in the future, as well as, you guessed it, higher endowments.

The flipside here, of course, is that these more prestigious schools are hard to get into. So while your son or daughter may be able to attend a certain high caliber school free if you qualify income wise, chances are your son or daughter won’t be able to attend at all unless they are stellar students and/or you are socially or financially connected to the school in various ways. Nevertheless this makes the point – your child’s academic performance is a decisive factor in determining how easy it will be for him or her to be awarded a scholarship. Don’t despair though – there are many scholarships that are based on other factors besides academic performance. If your child shines in other ways or just meets certain criteria, he or she may still be in the running for some helpful scholarships.

Scholarships from Private Sources

Technically, the private school itself is a private source. But we’re talking about private outside sources here. It may or may not surprise you to learn that there are literally thousands and thousands of scholarships offered each year from all kinds of organizations. Grant foundations, corporations, arts organizations, sports clubs, community organizations, academic and professional associations, and on and on – they are all potential sources of scholarship money for your child to attend private school. True, many of these scholarships are geared toward college students. But there are still quite a few that are set aside specifically for high school age students, or that cover both age groups.

The key is to find scholarships that match your child’s situation, talents, academic achievement, and overall goals. Perhaps the best way to illustrate this is with an example: Let’s say 14 year old Johnny is only an average student. He maintains a solid 2.5 average. However, he sits in his room for hours drawing, excels in his school’s art classes, and generally shows promise in drawing and painting. However the public school he’s in doesn’t have a very advanced art curriculum. They offer a few basic art classes and that’s it. You, the parent, think he would do much better in an artistically inclined private school. The thing to look for is scholarships for artistically inclined students.

Where can you find these scholarships? Again, it’s best to start with some schools that interest you and Johnny. Talk not only to their financial aid department but with the art department. Next, begin searching all kinds of sources – online, in scholarship guides, even checking out ads you see on billboards – for any of these types of scholarships. There is a huge amount of information online if you take a little time and patience to compile it into a list.

Just as a hypothetical example, you find that a certain arts organization is sponsoring a drawing competition, and that the winner will be awarded $2500 toward tuition at a school of their choice. The first thing to do is check with the school of interest and make sure that they will accept a student winning this scholarship. Then if so, enter Johnny in the contest and hope he wins!

But keep in mind this is not your only option. If you’ve searched diligently you will have found many organizations offering scholarships that meet Johnny’s criteria. They may simply be scholarships for students with 2.5 grade averages in your particular region of the country. Or they may be awarded on the basis of financial need and you may meet the requirements for that. Go ahead and apply to all of them – you lose nothing by giving them a try.

If you’re reasonably lucky, by then end of this process, some private for profit or nonprofit organization or other will award Johnny a scholarship. And hopefully it will be more than one.

Scholarships from government sources

Most government grants and scholarships for high school aged students seem to be at the state or local levels. Again, financial aid advisors can point you in the right direction here. You can also talk to your state’s department of education. They will have all the information regarding government grants for students in your child’s age group. For the most part these grants are harder to come by than private ones, especially for high school age students seeking to attend private schools. The whole private sector is probably your best bet in this situation. But leave no stone unturned and check both public and private sources.

Keep in mind Sibling Based Scholarships

Some private schools offer reduced tuitions for the siblings of already admitted students. In some cases the first enrolled students may have gotten partial or full scholarships, and in other cases not. But this is an angle to check out. Private schools that do this are banking on the idea that if one of your children is a good student, the others may be as well.

An ideal private school scholarship situation, to return to the example of Johnny the art student for a moment, would be as follows: Johnny wins or at least places in the arts organization’s drawing contest. He is awarded a couple of thousand dollars as a result. You also get an award from a mid-sized grant foundation that helps people in a certain income bracket afford education. Finally, the private school itself that you’re interested in likes Johnny’s work, is comfortable with his grade point average, and awards him several thousand dollars more. You’ve done well, and now between all these monetary awards added together what’s left of the tuition is quite affordable. Johnny gets to go to a school that fosters his talents, and you as parents don’t have too much more of a financial burden than when he was in public school.

Whether you’ll be this successful depends of course on a number of factors. But hopefully you’re getting the overall picture: there are a lot of private school grants and scholarships out there. The point is to meet the criteria. A child does not have to be a genius to get a scholarship. But it is best if his goals and talents are well defined and focused. Be honest about this and about your financial situation, compile large lists of potential sources, and your chances of being successfully awarded some private school tuition money are fairly good.