How to afford the private school of your choiceSo you are thinking about sending your child to private school?

You've probably looked into the costs and wondered, "How on earth can I afford this?" Think again, there is help out there.

For private schools, the decision may not just be academic. The tuition can be extremely high. The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) averaged tuition for private day schools in 2008-09 and the average fee was $17,441 per semester. Pretty expensive, especially when compared to strong public school.

Boarding schools were much more expensive in the NAIS median study, coming in with an annual range of $37,000.

Seeking Financial Aid

Most private schools build and plan a financial aid pool as a percentage of their budgets. Schools work hard to assist qualified students. Assist is the important term. With limited budgets and and a desire to aid as many students as possible, financial aid awards seldom fully cover a family's cost. Financial aid awards frequently require the family show some type of commitment to pay some part of the tuition. In other words, few schools offer full tuition aid.

Filing for financial aid entails filling out a financial statement, or PFS, and submitting it to NAIS's school and student services for financial aid, or SSS. This application results in the 'estimated family contribution' based on family income and expenses. The estimated family contribution is sent to schools you have chosen for your child.

Schools weigh many competing priorities in making their award decisions- funds available, family need, new/returning students, applicant strengths. The decision as to whether a given family receive financial aid is up to each school.

Scholarships

Another method of finding funding for your child's education in private school, is seeking scholarships. They are everywhere, online, in your community, in your church and local businesses. Find them and apply to every one you can identify. Each private school will probably have a list of groups, or businesses, that offer scholarships to bright students seeking to attend. If not, search them out yourself. These can help tremendously in your efforts to pay tuition.

Discounts

Most schools offer discounts for more than one child attending. Sometimes private schools offer discounts because you are a member of a church affiliated with them. Even volunteering and helping out in classrooms, and food service might afford you a discount. Ask about these opportunities when seeking financial aid through the private school of your choice.

Consider Returning Back to Work

If an adult member of an applicant family is not working, going back to work could help solve at least a portion of a tuition shortfall. If your children are in school, consider a part time job: spruce up that resume; the extra income will help. Some private schools will not even consider financial aid to parents who are not both working, so it is a serious consideration in planning for your child's future education.

Cut Your Expenses

Tighten up your budget and spending. Don't take that fancy family vacation, or have that night out on the town every week. This is your children's future, and starting them in a private school might just ensure that they can continue on to college with scholarships. Cutting back on buying new cars, new houses, and fancy clothes will ensure that future is secure for your child.

Many people have skipped the college savings accounts in lieu of sending their children to the best private schools, for future scholarship hopes for college.

This is a guest contribution by Andre Pinantoan, who is part of the team that manages Australian Credit Cards, a credit card comparison service with an extensive personal finance blog. When not blogging at ACC, he can be found out in the ocean diving with his girlfriend.