Assistance, please More families seek financial aid for school

Marc Blatt and his wife, Rachel, had every intention of sending their 7-year-old twin daughters, Hannah and Tova, to public school. But after visiting some of the local elementary schools and talking with their friends, the Blatts had a change of heart.

Instead, they decided to send their girls to Krieger Schechter Day School, a co-educational, independent Jewish day school for children in kindergarten through eighth grade. Had it not been for financial aid, however, Marc doubts the family would have been able to meet the full $17,500 tuition it costs to send each of his daughters to Krieger Schechter.

“When it came to funding, the school was very generous with financial aid,” the Owings Mills resident says. “It was available to us. They offered it to us, and we accepted.”

With Baltimore private school costs that can meet or exceed tuition prices at four-year universities, it should come as no surprise that many families seek financial aid.

The number of families receiving some kind of financial aid has grown at a swift pace in recent years. Nearly 23 percent get assistance, up from 15 percent in 2007, according to a 2014 New York Times article that cites data from the National Association of Independent Schools.

In response, private schools have devised varying strategies to meet the surging demand for assistance.

At Bryn Mawr School, an independent, nonsectarian all-girls school for grades K through 12, tuition costs range from $26,290 to $30,710, according to the school’s website. Rebekah Jackson, director of enrollment management at Bryn Mawr, says 230 of the school’s 700 students, or roughly 33 percent, receive financial aid. Depending on a family’s financial situation, tuition responsibility can range from as low as $5,000 to as high as $30,000.

When concerned parents ask Jackson if they should apply for aid, she tells them, “You never know if you qualify unless you apply.”

There are also special funds at Bryn Mawr to assist financial aid recipients with textbooks, transportation, laptops, extended days and school trips, among other educational expenses. In addition to Bryn Mawr’s own financial aid program, the school works with outside partners such as the Baltimore Educational Scholarship Trust and the Children’s Scholarship Fund Baltimore to help families offset expenses.

The assistance is designed to ensure that “every girl enjoys the full Bryn Mawr experience,” Jackson says.

Some schools have also benefited from other sources of aid.

At Boys’ Latin School of Maryland, an all-boys K-through-12 private school, financial assistance has been made available through the generous support of alumni and friends, says Hunt Heffner, director of enrollment management. With a student enrollment of about 600 and yearly tuition costs ranging from about $20,000 to $27,000 depending on grade, Hunt says, Boys’ Latin is fortunate to meet with families individually to address specific needs.

“We are proud that our financial aid program makes it possible for more families to pursue an independent school education for their sons who might not otherwise be able to do so,” Hunt says.

When it comes to choosing the right school for a family and their children, the process should be a personal one, he says. “We are humbled by the sacrifices all of our families make to send their sons to Boys’ Latin,” Hunt says. “Saving for school expenses, both K-through-12 and college, can be challenging.”

Blatt agreed. When his daughters started at Krieger Schechter, only his wife was employed, which made things a little tight. But now that both hold full-time jobs, the Blatts have started saving for retirement, paying back their own student loans and recently purchased a new car.

“It’s not like we’re living lavishly,” says Marc, who plans to send the family’s 2-year-old son, Rafi, to Krieger Schechter when he is older. “We are really grateful and just glad that our daughters can enjoy getting such a great education.”

 

 

 

 

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