In 2013, 47 percent of private school students in western New York met or exceeded English proficiency standards, compared to 35 percent for the rest of the state, according to The Buffalo News. While such results vary by region and school, long-term data shows that private schools consistently produce results equal or superior to public schools, as former New Hampshire state legislature representative Jason Bedrick documented in National Review Online. And a 2012 Gallup poll substantiated what most of us have long felt: 78 percent of Americans see private schools as a good or excellent educational option, while only 37 percent share this view of public schools. For parents seeking to invest in the best education for their children, the question becomes how to finance private schooling.
Financial Aid Opportunities
Financial aid for private K-12 schools is more limited than what's available for college, but opportunities exist. According to PrivateSchools.com, about one in five private school students receive need-based financial aid, while one in 20 get merit-based scholarship assistance. Free K-12 tuition for students from economically challenged families is offered by some programs, such as the national 26-school Cristo Rey Network. Aid is usually issued by schools, so parents should contact the individual school for details. Additionally, parents can explore regional and national private scholarship and voucher programs, such as the Children's Scholarship Fund.
A number of financing options can help pay for private schooling. Tuition payment plans enable parents to make payments in installments; again, check with the individual school in question. You can also look into obtaining a K-12 loan, such as the Sallie Mae K-12 Family Education Loan.
You may need to raise all or part of the cost yourself. Consider liquidating any assets you might hold, such as stocks and bonds. If you receive regular payments from an annuity or structured settlement, you may be able to sell your future payments to a company such as J.G. Wentworth for a lump sum of cash now.
Tax-advantaged savings plans are another way to cover the cost of private education. A Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA) enables you to grow savings tax-deferred and withdraw the money tax-free to cover qualified educational expenses such as tuition, books and uniforms.
Scholarship Tax Credits
Another option for covering private tuition that's recently emerged as an alternative to vouchers is scholarship tax credits, available in 13 states as of January, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Under these scholarship programs, individuals and corporations can allocate a portion of their owed state taxes to private nonprofit organizations that issue scholarships to K-12 students. Individual state programs provide lists of schools that are eligible to receive tax credits, representing another resource for parents seeking scholarship information. Check the NCSL website to see if this applies to your state.