By Kristin Shuff
It has been said that education is the cornerstone of society and one of the most important investments one can make in a child. A good education can help develop strong values and a love of learning that will ultimately position a child for success later in life. While all parents hope to provide a top-notch education for their child, not all live in an area that offers exceptional public schools. Frustrated, some parents turn to private and independent schools.
Private schools benefit students by fostering academic excellence and high achievement. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), private school students generally perform higher than their public school counterparts on standardized achievement tests and are more likely to have completed advanced level courses. Moreover, 88 percent of private high school students apply to college, compared to just 57 percent of public high school students.
But, most private schools come with a hefty price tag. The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) states that the average median school tuition in 2012-2013 was $20,000 per year. What many do not realize, however, is that investing in a child’s education does not have to put a strain on the family bank account. If considering private school as an option, start by exploring the different strategies parents can use to fund this education.
Explore non-traditional methods
There are many creative financing options available today that allow parents to finance an education. One of these methods is having a parent work in the school. In doing so, often times arrangements can be made to subsidize tuition. Some families also consider fundraisers or crowdsourcing, which is done by soliciting contributions from a large online community. Several websites are available today that allow individuals to share their story and receive funding from an audience made up of friends, family and the community at large.
Do your research
Several schools offer plans that allow families to defer payments over time. Additionally, a child’s school may offer athletic or academic scholarships based on a variety of standards and requirements. By talking to a school’s financial advisor, parents can determine what types of scholarships are available and how his or her child may qualify. This allows parents to identify different payment options and tuition offset opportunities.
Taking out a loan is another popular solution. According to a recent NAIS survey, 45 percent of parents who applied for financial aid last school year also anticipated borrowing for their child’s education, and 61 percent plan to borrow more this year. Personal loans are a good solution, but be sure to investigate everything from interest charges to associated fees. Some loans can have rates as high as credit card financing, adding to already high education costs.
For families with good credit, consider a PreK-12 tuition loan. LightStream offers unsecured tuition financing at low fixed rates and no fees, allowing borrowers to use funds not only for tuition, but also for the cost of books, activities, transportation, tutoring and more. If personal loans are not an option, consider financing tuition through a home equity line or credit (HELOC) or home equity loan, if there is equity available in the home to leverage.
All in all, there are several different financing options parents can use to fund a private school education. No matter which method a family prefers, remember that an investment in a child’s education is an investment in their future. The skills and values a child acquires in school set the foundation for a lifetime of learning and success.
Kristin Shuff is the vice president of marketing for LightStream, the online lending division of SunTrust Bank. Kristin is a proud mother of a daughter in private preschool. She balances the demands of work and parenting through creative time budgeting, not overcommitting, leaning on her village and using her commute time to keep her mind clear.
For more information, visit: www.lightstream.com.