Affording Private School

My family makes too much for me to qualify for financial aid, however, I can’t afford to pay the expensive tuitions that I’d have to in order to go to a private high school unassisted. I’m unsure about my ability to get any merit scholarships where they’re offered. What should I do? Should I test my luck with merit scholarships? I think I would have a good chance of getting into a school if money wasn’t a factor, but am probably not outstanding enough to get a large scholarship. At minimum applying to a private high school is something I’d really like to do, but my dad has dismissed the idea as both impossible and pointless and my mom is little help (and not the best at saving) and against paying much in tuition.

FA at many prep schools is more generous than you’d guess. You may, in fact, qualify for FA. It’s unlikely to cover the whole cost of attendance, but it might be half. Would that change your parents ’ view?

You are unlikely to be admitted with a full ride without desperate needing it. Merit scholarships can make a dent, but almost always still leave you with some cost of attendance. Do your research carefully before getting your heart set on a school which may expect you write a check if you are unwilling to do so.

Considering we are talking about a family with a household income of ~$385K, they might be less generous.

Of course, there may be circumstances (familial financial commitments) that, when taken into account, might still qualify this person for financial aid.

The big factor here is that the parents aren’t on board at all. These are parents who think private education is a pointless waste of money.

@stalecookies I don’t want to paint too negative a picture of my parents. My dad is generally against the idea, he wants me to focus on getting into a college I like. My mom is more supportive of this idea, but balks at paying more than maybe $20,000 a year. A lot of the schools near me are $60,000+, which is intimidating, and I heard the average was still over $30,000 a year. If I could find a way to pay $20,000 or less then I think she would be happy to send me to a better school.

I think they are just very caught off guard about me wanting this. Both of them struggled with student loans, my dad is still paying them I think (or finished recently), so they have a general aversion to the costly US education system. My brother and I both have dual citizenship and are EU citizens and we have access to cheap or free college in many EU countries, so my parents plans never included paying a large amount of money for our education, as the plan was before to go to a good European school.

@ABdelloid assuming you are talking about boarding schools, my suggestion would be to apply to a bunch that offer merit scholarships, apply for FA as well, and then see what offers you have come March 10 to see if any schools can fit into the 20k range. (Boarding school review dot com has a search on merit scholarships). Yes it makes it harder to get an offer and a number of schools will not be options but you only need one great option. Can’t recall if you are open to single sex schools but I would suggest adding them in.
(Your local day schools — I’m zero help there.)
And yes as a general board etiquette rule, maybe don’t double post things — it’s the same crowd so it is redundant.

Are you going on track at your current school for that?

If not, research what it would take to get into the European school(s) you might be interested in. You may find that, at the very least you would have to do a post-graduate year in order to get up to snuff, because their system is very different from ours.

If an IB degree would improve your odds at university in the EU, maybe looking for that program could be worth the trade. Pay for high school to get free college…
But it sounds like you have your sights set on U.S. colleges, in which case this is a few more years of payments.

I’m not sure what you mean… I’ve tried talking to my guidance counselor about it, but she didn’t really know much about European colleges and said she didn’t think I would have to do too much differently right now, and that when it came time to apply my parents and I would have to go communicate with the schools ourselves and figure that out (rather than go to the guidance counselors for college counseling). I got the impression she hadn’t really had many students go international before, and that she wasn’t really prepared to talk to us freshmen about that topic at the moment (I’ve only met her once, at a check-in that seemed focused on making sure we weren’t failing).

I know the college system there is very different, though I haven’t been able to get much information about it out of my mom (who grew up in Europe). I’ve gathered a bit from friends in Iceland as well, but again very vague. I don’t think going to college in the EU should drastically change what high school should look like for me in the US, though. No matter what, it seems like schooling there is drastically less expensive than it is here, even if I am considered an international rather than EU student as I come from the US school system.

@gardenstategal I actually wasn’t aware of that program (just looked it up, so know the basic premise). Would that help? I don’t really know much about applying for EU college, my mom again is very vague and says I shouldn’t worry about it right now, and honestly I’ve been so caught up in school and ECs I haven’t had time to research on my own.

I want to avoid going to a US college (sorry if I was unclear) because of the high cost. I live in NJ now and would like to go to a high school on the east coast (preferably in-state as I have obligations here) that is more rigorous and provides more diverse classes and ECs than my current HS. Because of my financial situation and the fact that I’m late to this game and am not expecting much help I’m not especially picky. Then, hopefully, I’d go overseas for college, probably to Germany where I have family in the country. Right now I’m just trying to see if there is any chance I could pay for a better high school here, a place where I don’t feel like I’m wasting my time in class and that will allow me to explore my interests so I know what track I want to go on for college.

I think you should research private day schools in your area. Their cost will likely be a third or so of the full fee for boarding school, and maybe half (though I could be wrong) of the day-student rate. Perhaps your parents would be amenable to paying $25,000 annually, say, if you can provide them evidence that the education and other opportunities are truly better than at your current public school.

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Do not take out any debt to attend a private high school.

Do not use up your college funds to attend a private high school.

I got my bachelor’s and master’s degrees at highly ranked universities in the US. The large majority of other students at both schools went to high school at their local public high school. My roommate freshman year had gone to a lousy public high school. That did not stop him from attending and graduating from MIT (on a need based scholarship) and going on to law school. Top schools such as MIT do not expect you to fix your high school nor to attend a famous high school – they expect you to excel at whatever high school you attend.

Once you get accepted to university, no one will ever ask you about high school again unless you want to transfer universities before you get your bachelor’s degree.

You can apply and see what sort of financial aid is available. Based on what you said I would not get my hopes up too high.

In most of NJ, there are day school options and quite possibly, day student at a boarding school options. Which those are depends on where you live.

  1. University education in Europe IS NOT FREE; it is subsidized by the taxpayers of those countries.
  2. Your public school guidance counselor is ignorant, by her own admission. Are you really going to take her academic advice?

You have specifically mentioned Germany. Has your mother ever mentioned Gymnasium and the Abitur? You should look up the admissions standards for the universities you would like to consider going to and start planning your high school curriculum accordingly.

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