Private Schools for Low-Income Families

You may live in a poorly rated school district, or you may want to choose private school for religious or philosophical reasons. However, if you are also low income, a private school's tuition probably feels far out of reach for your child. Before your write off your favorite school, check into the options available to your family to make paying the yearly tuition more possible.

Financial Aid

Many private schools offer tuition assistance for families who qualify 1. You will need to fill out and submit paperwork verifying how much your family makes, and the schools will then give you an amount that they can contribute to your child's tuition. Submit this paperwork as soon as possible, as many schools allocate financial aid on a first-come, first-served basis and often have limited financial aid available to begin with 1. You may also get a discount for a sibling if you already have a child in the school.


Ask the private school whether they offer scholarships, either through the school itself or perhaps through alumni or an associated church or other organization. Some scholarships for private schools are even funded through the state or country in the form of tax credits 1. Financial aid often does not cover the entire tuition, so scholarship that will help with uniforms and supplies, as well as part of tuition, may enable your child to attend the school of your choice. Scholarships are often allocated based on specific criteria, such as:

  • age
  • grade
  • or even extracurricular participation
  • so read the fine print
  • apply as soon as you can for the best chances

Work Exchange

Private schools may suffer from lack of funds as well, so ask about exchanging part of your tuition payment for help around the campus 1. Many private schools will allow you to work off part of your tuition by providing a service. If you have a specialized skill, like plumbing or construction, speak up and let the school know, as hiring outside help can get expensive and they may be thrilled to have a member of their student's family available to help. Some schools even need less specialized help, like cleaning the classrooms or providing child care during meetings, so don't be shy about asking about a possible work exchange.

Payment Plans

Once you have gotten your potential tuition as low as you and the school are able to, request a payment plan that stretches payments throughout the year instead of owing up front. A lower monthly payment is much more affordable to many low-income families than owing thousands of dollars at the beginning of the year. However, you may end up paying slightly more, as many schools do offer a small discount for families paying up front.