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SPS Increases FA to Middle-Income Families

creative1creative1 Registered User Posts: 1,657 Senior Member
edited December 2012 in Prep School Admissions
Posted on the SPS website today:

St. Paul’s School Increases Financial Aid to Middle-Income Families

In an effort to open its doors to more middle-income families, St. Paul’s School has announced that admitted U.S. studentswhose families earn $200,000 or less annually will be expected to contribute no more than 10 percent of the family’s household income toward their child’s St. Paul’s education.

“The School has had a longstanding commitment to maintaining and continually enhancing a robust financial aid program, in order to remain as accessible as we possibly can be to qualified students,” said Rector Mike Hirschfeld ’85. “I am hopeful this initiative will highlight our historic commitment to bringing talented youth to the School regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds.”

The policy makes official the financial aid practices of the SPS Admission Office over the last several years.

At St. Paul’s, where all students live on the grounds, this financial support includes room, board, and other expenses. The School has a long history of providing financial aid and, according to Financial Aid Director Tim Caryl-Klika, remains committed to helping families from all backgrounds afford the tuition. The aid under the new policy will come entirely in the form of grants; the School will require no loans to be repaid.

Building on a policy announced in 2006 that awarded full tuition to families of admitted students whose household income was $65,000 or less, the policy was expanded in 2008 to offer full financial aid to families with household incomes of $80,000 or less. Now, families with a household income between $80,000 and $200,000 per year will be asked to contribute between zero and 10 percent of their yearly income, as determined by a needs analysis. Families in all income ranges who have significant, non-residential and non-qualified retirement assets will be asked to pay more than families without those resources.

According to Caryl-Klika, the new policy also means that there is no income cut-off for financial aid eligibility, so families with incomes higher than $200,000 per year may still qualify for aid.

“This policy clarifies our financial aid philosophy to prospective families,” said Director of Admission Scott Bohan ’94. “It recognizes that [the SPS tuition of] $50,000 is a lot of money, and it outlines what your actual contribution might be if your child considers applying to St. Paul’s. It is a very logical next step to our most recent practice of providing full financial aid to families making less than $80,000 per year.”

The policy is intended to increase the range of families who can take advantage of a boarding school education, added Bohan.

“We want a St. Paul's education to be accessible to all,” said Bohan. “I hope that defining our philosophy in such clear terms will show people that they have not been priced out of this opportunity. The best St. Paul’s School is one that is full of students of diverse backgrounds and experiences.”
Post edited by creative1 on

Replies to: SPS Increases FA to Middle-Income Families

  • classicalmamaclassicalmama Registered User Posts: 2,261 Senior Member
    Wow. Very impressive. I wonder if this will affect how many of those students they are able to accept. Are they allocating more FA dollars for this new initiative?
  • SevenDadSevenDad Registered User Posts: 3,820 Senior Member
    I think this this is good for both prospective parents and students to see, no matter what schools they are considering.

    The point being that you can have a fairly high household income ($200k is in the top 6% or so) and still qualify for some aid...and at schools like SPS, a significant amount. I think some prospective families think that they might be "priced out of applying" to certain schools because their HHI is too high.
  • SharingGiftSharingGift Registered User Posts: 552 Member
    Thanks for the timely post. I was searching on this topic (EFC for middle-class family) yesterday and quite puzzled by historic posts that had passionately argued for how much contribution was appropriate for a middle-class family.

    My impression was that many families had been typically asked to come up with somewhere between 20K and 40K, or offered no FA at all. Considering rather "luxurious" nature of attending private boarding schools, compared to attending private colleges, one can be expected to pay more for the privilege. However, I felt 30K might be a stretch and 40K or no FA out of reach for many middle-class families.

    So this is a great welcome news, which is in fact more consistent with what I found in SPS (before this announcement) and Exeter websites. Specifically for middle-class families, SPS offered various levels of grants at ~$36K for the families making $150-200K (22 students), ~$38K for $125-150K (9 students), and ~$40K for $100-125 (21 students). Exeter had offered grants of similar sizes: $28-42K for the families making $100-120K (16 students), $10-37K for $120-160K families (14 students), and $10-30K for $160-200K families (12 students).

    As far as my knowledge goes, the policy of asking to contribute 10% of household income for middle class families is in fact exactly the same one that Harvard and other Ivy Leagues colleges hold for past several years. Hopefully other schools follow the suit, making them truly diverse socio-economically.
  • RuralMamaRuralMama Registered User Posts: 147 Junior Member
    Just a warning from our family's experience: those grids posted on many schools websites are just averages, and don't take into account other assets your family may have. We had really thought that because our income is quite far down in the middle income range (but not low enough for a full ride), that if we applied to well-endowed schools with generous financial aid policies, we would at least get some financial aid. We were hoping for about 20K, based on those grids on the websites.

    Now...the PFS estimate of what we could afford did in fact differ greatly from what the grids promised, and was in fact accurate (eg, we would be paying full tuition). But we blithely thought that the truth of the grids would prevail. If we had known that we would be paying for the entire bill, I think BS would have been off the table from the start.

    Not sure why the grid estimates were so off...I think it comes down to us not having enough debt. We tend to live pretty frugally - old cars, modest home with modest mortgage, etc. It was a wake up call when the acceptances rolled in for our DS, with no financial aid. We ended up making BS happen by refinancing our house, cutting retirement contributions, and generally cutting expenses even closer to the bone, but it has been hard.

    Granted SPS was not among the acceptances, and maybe they would have been more generous. And the fact is we have been able to make it work (just like PFS said we could). And BS has been a wonderful wonderful experience for the DS. Having bitten the bullet, I'm glad we have.

    And....now we might have enough debt to qualify for FA for college!
  • SharingGiftSharingGift Registered User Posts: 552 Member
    Families in all income ranges who have significant, non-residential and non-qualified retirement assets will be asked to pay more than families without those resources.

    This might have been the factor in your son's case?

    I'm glad to hear that he had a wonderful experience though. Encouraging!
  • RuralMamaRuralMama Registered User Posts: 147 Junior Member
    Yes, definitely! That is some *important* fine print posted on those websites that we either didn't take enough to heart, or didn't think really applied to us. I actually didn't think our assets really counted as "significant". That word is open to various interpretations...

    Basically, we were naive. As we know now, any assets count, and if you have equity in your home or elsewhere, it may all be expected to be thrown into the boarding school tuition pot. I say "may", because schools vary in their packages. But, as I also said, it was the schools with the more generous financial aid programs toward middle class families that we pursued.

    Anyway, it is wonderful SPS and other schools are expanding their reach. Just....it is possible a family would think they are in the range, and they really aren't!
  • goforprepgoforprep Registered User Posts: 79 Junior Member
    New to CC but feeling hopeful re: what I've read about middle income families & financial aid. I greatly apppreciate so much fantastic input re: FA at BS. Never realized it was such a confusing & mysterious topic! :) Being new here, please indulge me as I ask some of my own questions (& forgive me if the answers are already on a different thread). As much searching as I've done, I can't seem to find them. If you DO know it's been covered-Pls. feel free to point me to the correct thread/ forum. Otherwise...here goes:

    If applying for our only child to attend 9th grd in Fall '13-
    1. Curious how the odds might be stacked (for FA) for family of 3. Income in the $140-$150k range after taxes but live in one of the most $$$ part of country: think Bay area. By NO means, living large here: interest only mortgage, leased cars, hardly any savings in bank and have been paying priv school tuition from k-8. I do realize there are cheaper parts of country but husband's job requires that he be in Bay area and avg. cost of home was $850k when we moved. Fixer upper from early 1960's >1600 sq ft, almost 0 lot line and taxes that would choke an elephant: nearly 10% sales tax, high property taxes, state income tax AND fed income tax.
    2. Do the schools/ FA boards actually consider this income differently when compared w/ someone making that same amount in say, TX or FL (cheaper cost of living, no state income tax, etc)? I realize many people in these threads have gone through great hardship & fight to put food on the table everyday. Please know that I am in no way suggesting that we are struggling at that level.
    3. I simply want to know if anyone has ever gone through admissions/ FA process w/ a similar background? If so, what advice would you offer? (Please PM if you would rather not post here).
    4. On another note, I've read numerous posts on CC which reference applying to many of the HADES and other ACRONYM schools-when you are from California (AND need FA). Great # of posters view this as a virtual kiss of death. Have yet to understand why or IF there's any truth to that? Anyone experience this or have a story about a friend / cousin/ neighbor they'd be willing to share? Please reply or PM me. Thanks so much!
    I have to say-I greatly admire everyone on here for striving for the very best & especially the parents who struggle everyday to do so. That was the world in which spouse and I grew up and although we never attended private school, we're both college grads & we so appreciated any & all chances we had for our educations. The best to ALL of you & thank you for taking the time to answer if you can.
  • SharingGiftSharingGift Registered User Posts: 552 Member
    I can understand where you're coming from. I used to live in Cambridge, MA and $150K income would barely place you into middle class. I can imagine it's more so in the bay area as I once flirted with getting a job over there.

    I think there are lines and pages in PFS, where you can explain all of your circumstances including cost of living, state and local taxes, housing cost, etc. One thing that I don't understand is, why would it be more difficult for you to pay $50K than for someone living in a rural midwestern state with $100K income to pay $50? When I visit my friends in CA and NY, I do see that their houses are smaller, older, yet more expensive than mine; I do see they have to pay more taxes; and so on. But I also see they can afford to drive nicer cars, eat at more expensive restaurants, travel more often to warm tropical islands, etc. In short, I have often wondered that, say, $10K is more dispensable amount of money for an average New Yorker than for an average Ohioan.

    Please don't take me wrong. I think we are all financially squeezed to a certain degree except some fortunate minority. That's why I really appreciated the financial aid initiative by SPS: you get to pay $15K and the Ohioan gets to pay $10K. I'm not sure if things can get any fairer than this. I just wish other schools follow this suit... and soon:-)
  • SharingGiftSharingGift Registered User Posts: 552 Member
    One more...

    Even before the announcement, SPS used to grant $35K-$38K for your income bracket. Wouldn't you love to get this? I would.
  • goforprepgoforprep Registered User Posts: 79 Junior Member
    SharingGift, I appreciate your insight & having been to Cambridge just a few times, I know the housing is very $$$ there too. The point I was making about the Bay area is just that we have friends that make the same as we do here- but live in the other places I mentioned (TX, FL, etc) where their $ definitely goes MUCH further. (For the various reasons I listed).
    Re: your questions: Yes, our house is older and smaller & as I mentioned, was a fixer upper when we bought it nearly 9 years ago & still paid in the $800's for it. (Hence the interest only loan & believe it or not- we got a good deal for the area). Again, tiny house & we aren't even in a pref. school dist so only alternative for us is private, which is close to $20K thru 8 grd. To live in the towns w/ the great schools, you need to shell out 1 million plus and that's for a 2 bdrm fixer on a busy street- IF you can find it. I never believed such a thing UNTIL we moved here. Just watch Waiting for Superman to get a glimpse if you have doubts re: what I'm saying. That charter school featured is in a city that already has much better public schools than we do here and the lottery of kids vying for a spot is HUGE anyway. Believe me, we looked at moving to one of those areas for the public high school but can't afford it. Gas is close to $5/ gallon & we both drive green cars, hardly fancy. We hoard points/ miles (hubby earns from biz trips) to use for our family trips: like visiting schools in the NE in Dec. (Wish it were the tropics). We also do home exchange to cut costs way down when we do travel. We charge everything & the credit card is not being used at Saks- trust me. Use it for things like groceries, gas, utilities, etc. Pay it off every month too, so we don't pay interest but get the points. Yes, food costs more here so restaurants do too. So we DON't go out to eat without a coupon or some other promo b/c I agree with you that Bay area dining is way too pricey. Freecycle & Craigslist are well represented in our house from the furnishings to the paint on the walls. We stretch dollars in order to give to charity & to our church's mission trips that our child goes on. We also save so that our child can go to the best school we can afford here. I'm sure we all know people who fit your description of free spending, "throw caution to the wind" Californians (and I'm sure you'll find people in many other states who live this way too). We are definitely NOT those people.
    I'd say the VAST majority are just getting by here & the slight bump in wages you see being paid in the Bay area hardly makes a dent in the enormous cost of living hike one experiences living here as opposed to almost anywhere else in the country- except maybe NYC, Boston, DC, Honolulu, etc.
    I'm still very interested in hearing from anyone who's in a similar situation & what their exp has been when applying to these schools. Thrilled to see the SPS income adjustmt in FA and hope it will help more families that may have otherwise been overlooked.
  • dharmamomdharmamom Registered User Posts: 96 Junior Member
    @goforprep: I'm not sure other posters are seeing that you state your income as 140-150K AFTER taxes. Household income mentioned in financial aid threads is always gross income. If your total household income is more than 200K and you have one child, you are not a candidate for financial aid at most schools.
  • SharingGiftSharingGift Registered User Posts: 552 Member
    I'm sorry but I didn't mean to offend you in any way. I believe I'm in the very same boat, except that I live in a expensive-but-not-that-expensive suburb in east coast.

    I just thought that you had a misconception. No offense, but I still think so. Compare these two situations. You are a middle class and trying to send your DC to the best and the most expensive) private school in your area that costs >$40K annually. You probably are doing this now, and perhaps this is a substantial burden on your family finance.

    Think of another middle class family in rural Ohio. That family will also have a substantial burden if they send their DC to the the best and the most expensive private school that costs <$20K annually.

    If you and my imaginative Ohioan send DC to the most expensive schools in respective local areas, I believe relative financial burdens to be more or less comparable. Imagine, however, that both you and the Ohioan send DC to Andover that costs the same tuition and fees at $50K annually. I doubt it would be a less financial burden on the Ohioan family.

    If you try to get some sense of typical FA amounts, then I suggest to start reading this thread:

    A few more PFS questions..."

    In short, the prospect is not very bright.
  • SharingGiftSharingGift Registered User Posts: 552 Member
    If your total household income is more than 200K and you have one child, you are not a candidate for financial aid at most schools.

    Average grants from SPS for the families making $200-300K have been ~$20K. If we assume average families have two children, then goforprep could expect ~$10K.
  • goforprepgoforprep Registered User Posts: 79 Junior Member
    Thank you for responding & no offense taken, SharingGift. Really. I appreciate the feedback & I'm learning more every minute I'm on here. As I said, this is new ground for us.

    As it was the VERY wee hours of the night when I made the first post, I wasn't adding very well, I must admit. Our combined income is actually around $180K BEFORE fed or state income taxes. Also have medical ins, retirement, etc taken out of paycheck.

    No argument that $20K for private school in Ohio is a big burden. I agree and know for a fact it is also a big undertaking for our family here in CA. My orig question was really more about whether the various BS's factor in (and make adjustments for) the cost of living in the different parts of the country that tend to be a great deal more $$, when reviewing income for FA purposes. Whether that's given serious consideration is key in understanding whether applying at many of these schools is even plausible for our family. No doubt, w/out the prospect of sizable FA, there's hardly a chance of us affording anything I've seen so far. But I guess there's only one way to be sure: apply!

    Our child is very excited & inspired by the possibilities this type of education offers so we will still schedule the visits, go through the application & FA process and do the required testing, etc. Then cross our fingers & hope for the best. If there's any way to make it work & we do find that perfect school match- we will give it our all!
  • goforprepgoforprep Registered User Posts: 79 Junior Member
    Agreed. My mistake on numbers. Late late night of searching online and brain asleep at the wheel. I corrected in post below. Thanks for pointing out. :)
This discussion has been closed.