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Nearly 57 million students enrolled in school in the United States in 2019, according to the National Center of Education Statistics. Only around 10% of those students were in private school.
Many families cannot afford to send their children to private schools, even if they have special needs. Even higher-income families may decide not to allocate tuition resources to their children because many of our American public schools are great!
The coronavirus has completely changed how parents view education, however. Having to all of a sudden homeschool or supervise online learning for children has left millions of parents scrambling for another option, whether or not they ever thought they could afford it. If you’re one of them, you’re not alone!
Private education is expensive, but there are ways to save on costs. Here are a few ideas on how to fundraise for scholarships or assistance with student learning resources like tutors or learning groups.
State Funding for Student Scholarships and School Choice
A surprising number of states have scholarship funds for children in low-income families who want to attend private school.
To find out, visit your state’s Department of Education Page or call them and ask. You can use the US Department of Education’s mapping tool to find those resources.
Florida, for instance, offers scholarship funds through the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program. Families in lower-income brackets can apply for funding to enable their children to attend private schools, either for the sake of choice or for special needs.
They use private foundations, such as Step Up for Students, to administer the program. Step Up for Students has 5 distinct scholarships. One is in the case of children being bullied and looking for an alternative to their school system.
Some states offer funding under “school choice” laws which aim to make it possible for students of all backgrounds to be able to choose their learning option. Check out this interactive guide on those laws from the National Conference of State Legislatures. The map shows that 16 states offer tax credits for private school tuition and 15 offer vouchers. You probably have a lot more options than you think!
Also read on our sister site SchoolMoney.org: Understanding Basic Tuition
Find Private Grants, Scholarships, and Local Resources
There are thousands of different grants and scholarship resources out there to help parents pay for special needs and education. Here are just a few resources.
- Children’s Scholarship Fund is offering support grants to parents during the COVID crisis so that they can keep paying tuition to a child’s chosen school.
- Scholarship Owl helps you sort through different scholarships that might be available to your child, for high school and college.
- You can search grant databases for resources for individuals. A growing number of charities understand the stresses being put on low-income and “normal” households alike and are offering resources to help. Candid has a free resource page.
- Connect with 211.org, a database of millions of resources to link you to specific support opportunities in your community.
Reach Out to Your Private Schools of Choice
Most private schools, whether virtual or community-based, offer some sort of scholarships. Reach out to your local schools and see what might be available!
Particularly, most Catholic Dioceses offer scholarships for local schools. Many Catholic schools offer high-quality education and insist on providing options for all children, regardless of their family’s faith. You can reach out to your local Diocese to see what scholarship options are available.
A growing number of online schools, with established systems to offer online courses, are increasing their scholarship funds or tutoring capacity to help people in need access their resources. Some are just generally affordable! Most at a minimum offer flexible payment plans. Onlineschools.org is a database of accredited resources.
These are difficult times that are pushing our schools and educational resources in the United States and globally to innovate at warp speed. Though it is stressful in the short term, finding new ways to educate our children (and new funding streams to do so) will probably only improve systems, teacher capacity, and flexibility for working parents in the long term!
Source for student enrollment numbers: NCES