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How to Pay for Private School

Updated: 20 hours ago


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Some parents dream of sending their children to a private school. The lower teacher-to-student ratios can mean higher-quality education. Private schools also provide safety, a sense of community, and various extracurricular activities. However, these benefits sometimes come at a steep cost, leaving many parents discouraged.


While many think private school is only for the most privileged families, that's not always the case. With some strategy, you can secure a private school education for your child and set them up for success.


Scholarships for private schools aren't the only option. Here's a guide on how to pay for private school, covering the many financing options you can explore.


How Much Does Private School Cost in the US?


If you want to know how to pay for private school, it helps to have ballpark figures. Private schools aren't affiliated with national, state, or local governments and don't get public funding. That means private school tuition varies depending on education level, the institution's connections, and other factors.


In 2023, the total average cost of private schooling from kindergarten to four years of postsecondary education was $312,026. On an annual level, the average tuition is $12,350 across the country's 22,440 K-12 private schools. For elementary private school students, the average yearly tuition is $11,600. That climbs to $16,144 for private high school tuition.


Private boarding school is the most expensive option, with the average yearly tuition for 5-day schools hitting $53,350. That increases further to $67,270 for 7-day boarding schools.

How To Negotiate Private School Tuition?

With soaring tuition fees, many parents wonder how to pay for private school. That's where negotiating skills can come in handy. Here are some ways to land a good deal with your child's private school that are beneficial to both parties:

Pay the Full Cost at a Discounted Rate

Another option is to offer to pay the entire cost in one go but at a discounted rate. Schools would be happy to receive their students' full tuition upfront, so they might be willing to give you a lower fee in exchange.

Inquire About Scholarships for Private Schools

To help families and diversify their student body, many private schools offer scholarships and financial aid to eligible students. If you need financial assistance, submit your application as early as possible. Waiting until the end of admissions will lower your chances.


How To Pay for Private School: Education Savings Accounts and Financing Options


Many parents are worried about how to pay for private school, given the high tuition fees and rising cost of living. While financial aid and scholarships for private schools help, not all students are eligible. But before you give up your dreams, know that education savings accounts and financing options exist. They can help get your child through private schooling and lessen your financial burdens.

Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA)

A Coverdell ESA, a trust account by the national government, assists families with educational costs. With an ESA, you can grow your investment earnings, given they're for elementary and secondary school expenses. While scholarships for private schools require academic merit, you don't have to worry about that with a Coverdell ESA. 


However, there are some requirements and limitations to take note of. The beneficiary must be under 18 years old when you create the ESA. Also, you can open multiple ESAs for one beneficiary, but your total annual contributions can't exceed $2,000. In addition, you can only contribute to a Coverdell ESA if your gross monthly income is below $110,000. The cut-off for married couples who file joint taxes is $220,000.

529 Plan

Unlike Coverdell ESAs, anyone can start a 529 plan regardless of income. While 529 plans were originally for funding college tuition, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 made it possible to take out distributions of $10,000 yearly for K-12 tuition. That can be useful if the plan has grown well and has more than enough to cover college tuition fees. You can also use it for a younger child if the initial beneficiary didn't use it for college. It's best to start a 529 plan early to maximize its benefits.


Note that every state has its own 529 plan and corresponding laws. While it's not a requirement to use your state's 529 plan, it might be better to do so to avoid confusion. If you use a 529 plan for your child's private high school tuition or other educational expenses in a state where it's not allowed, there might be some consequences. You might have to repay any tax deductions you received from the plan.

Roth IRA

Parents wondering how to pay for private school tuition can use their Roth IRA contributions to help fund expenses. However, that excludes your investment returns. You can take out your distributions at any age, free from taxes and penalties. If you invest $5,000 annually for 15 years, you can take out $75,000 without deductions when your child enters high school.


Using your Roth IRA for your child's tuition is a sensible decision if you have a robust retirement fund outside of it. Also, the account must be at least five years old, and you must be over 59 ½ years. If your Roth IRA is your sole source of retirement funds, it's best to consider other financing alternatives.


Is Online Private School Cheaper?


Worrying about how to pay for private school is a burden many parents face. It's a valid concern, with private high school tuition averaging $16,144 annually. If you're looking for a more affordable alternative, you can consider online private schools.


Tuition fees vary and can be difficult to compare, but online private schooling ensures significant savings in other areas. It eliminates costs like transportation, campus meal plans, and rent. Students have all the essentials at home, giving parents more control over school-related expenses.

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How do Colleges View Online Private Schools? 

While going the online route means no longer stressing out over how to pay for private school, it leads to other concerns. Do students get the same quality of education through online learning? Does online schooling affect college eligibility? You don't have to worry about these issues if you enroll your child in a trusted and accredited online institution.


The best online private schools in the country offer high-quality education that rivals the experience of traditional brick-and-mortar schools. These institutions are accredited, meaning they've passed educational standards for faculty, curriculum, resources, and other criteria. Colleges generally don't discriminate against online schools as long as they have regional accreditation.


Aside from financial benefits, online schooling has unique features that help prepare students for success in college and beyond. It instills essential skills like self-discipline, time management, and independence. Online learning also teaches students how to use digital platforms and tools, enhancing their digital literacy. That skill is invaluable in the workforce, regardless of which industry they enter in the future.


Learn More About ICL Academy


If you're concerned about how to pay for private school, know that you can utilize various financing options, educational savings accounts, and scholarships for private schools. It's also worth considering a top private online school for your child, like ICL Academy.


ICL Academy accepts grade 5 to 12 students, equipping them through practical application and technology. It has WASC accreditation and is NCAA-approved, ensuring students have college eligibility. To help families, ICL Academy offers financial aid and scholarship opportunities for full-time students. Learn more about ICL Academy’s online private school today.

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