How to afford private school without breaking the bank

Aug 26, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. ET
Image: Moodboard - Mike Watson Images/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

If given the opportunity, many parents would choose private school. Find out how you can afford private school if you're considering it.

As parents, we want the best for our children. It follows that we want our kids to have the best education we can find. And so we move out of beloved cities into suburbs where school districts have better reputations. We give up our own careers to homeschool. We even spend thousands of dollars every year when we choose private schools.

Choosing the best education

Natalie Angelillo, mother of two and CEO and founder of, says, "While there are many great public school options, I've chosen the private school route mostly for smaller class size and specialized learning opportunities for my kids."

Wouldn't it be great if we could choose our child's school based on intuition rather than tuition?

Todd Nelson, business development officer at LightStream, a national online lending division of SunTrust Bank, says, "Parents should never assume that sending their children to private school will automatically put a strain on their bank account, because there are a variety of financing alternatives."

Creative strategies to making private school work

David Bakke of Money Crashers has some ideas for parents struggling to make the right choice. He says, "See if your state has a voucher program for private school attendance. If you and your student qualify, you might have access to funds to help offset the cost. There might also be a scholarship available — two organizations offering them are the Children's Scholarship Fund and the Commonwealth Foundation. The school itself might have a scholarship program, also. If the private school is religion-based, check with your church — it may also offer assistance. You might also be able to write off tuition costs on your state tax return."

"What parents don't realize is that for people with good credit, PreK-12 tuition loans may be available," says Nelson. "For instance, LightStream offers fixed rate, unsecured financing that allows people to borrow between $5,000 and $100,000 with no fees and at terms of their choosing. It's a simple online application process, where approved borrowers can have funds deposited directly into their bank account as soon as the same day they apply. LightStream allows funds to be spent at the parents' discretion to cover not only tuition, but also the cost of books, sports, transportation, uniforms, etc."

Nelson has seen other techniques such as having a parent work in some capacity at the school, taking out a home equity loan or families hosting an annual fund-raiser.

Angellilo says, "I'd become frustrated with the old fund-raising models that don't match the lifestyles of today's parents. As someone who has spent a large percentage of my professional life fund-raising for different organizations, it can be difficult to find an easy, quick way to raise money. I actually started a company to solve this problem — to help parents at all schools raise money through everyday philanthropy."

Traditional strategies for raising money

Bakke recommends you "firm up your finances. Get on a budget, reduce all monthly bills, cut back on personal spending and put your surplus in a separate account to be used for tuition and other private school expenses."

A professional financial planner can offer specialized advice for your particular situation. The bottom line? Don't be constrained by your bottom line.

More on education

How to find the best school district for your child
Traditional schools are not for my family
Which states are best for homeschooling?