Could an Independent School be an Option for Your Child?

With financial aid, community organizations and a support network, you may have more educational options than you think

Manasa Tangalin, executive director of the Independent School Alliance in Los Angeles, works with the most underrepresented populations in independent schools: African-American, Latino, and Native American boys and girls. Support for students is an important part of what it does, perhaps because of the age range of its students. “Our organization is the only one in the country that works with students K-12,” Tangalin says. The Alliance assists families through the admissions process, but also provides a “whole series of programs” that support students after they’re admitted. The support component is for the “students and families as well as the schools.”

Financial Aid Is Available

Perhaps the greatest obstacle to an independent school education for most black families is the price tag. According to the NAIS, the average median tuition is $18,347 per year; in some areas it can reach $35,000. But Tangalin notes that 82% of the families she works with receive aid that makes independent school possible for them. Timmons, who also says financial aid at many of these schools is available, encourages parents who receive an inadequate award to ask for more. She stresses the need, however, to get applications in early. “Deadlines matter. Schools have more money early in the process. Early applications get more.”

Timmons advises interested parents contact local or regional resources, such as Independent School Alliance, before contacting A Better Chance. “First ask parents who have children in independent schools about their process, then link with an organization that can support you while you’re selecting schools and applying to them,” she advises. She does not recommend applying on your own.

Interested in pursuing independent schooling for your child? Many schools take youngsters up through 11th grade, but you must begin the process the year before. See resources below to help you get started.

Know of resources that should be added to this list? Or do you have a child in an independent school? Feel free to comment below.  

More Resources
Prep for Prep (New York area)
The Steppingstone Foundation (Boston area)
Boston Scholars Program (Boston)
Oliver Scholars Program (Northeast)
Black Student Fund (Washington, D.C. area)
Independent School Alliance (Southern California)
National Partnership for Educational Access

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