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Finding and Applying for Scholarships for High School Students

Authored By: 
George Higgins, Headmaster

As families feel the economic squeeze more and more, financial aid will become increasingly more important when selecting a private high school.  Paying tuition on top of trying to save for college can put a huge strain on the family budget. The simple solution is seeking a high school scholarship. Simple, yes; but not easy--it takes a lot of planning. There are two main sources of funding for scholarships for high school students--the school itself as well as national and regional scholarship and voucher programs. Similar to college scholarships, they can be need- or merit-based.

Financial aid is limited and goes quickly. Getting an early jump on working with a school that you have selected is vital. My advice is to apply for financial assistance as early as possible since, in most cases, funds are limited (many programs allocate financial aid before March 1). I’m always surprised when a parent contacts me in the late spring or summer and asks about financial aid for the fall semester. If you’re getting ready for Fourth of July fireworks, you’re probably too late for any financial aid. That being said, all anyone can say is “no,” so it never hurts to ask. Just don’t be disappointed if you can’t get a tuition break. 

Schools will vary in the way that they offer a scholarship for high school students, so be sure to ask everyone your set of questions. Our school offers aid in the form of a merit award. That means that, regardless of your ability to pay, if the student has achieved the minimum standards for our award, he/she can qualify for tens of thousands of dollars in tuition savings. Other schools may focus on creating a more diverse student body or helping those families with a gifted child who might not be well-served in the local public school. You never know where the school’s attention is in any given year, so always make financial aid a part of your conversation when working with the admissions staff.

Also, keep in mind that not every source of aid comes directly from the school. Many local organizations offer scholarships to certain individuals, although the amounts may not be as large as what you might get from a school, the contribution may be enough to make a difference between attending your first- or second-choice school. Most of these scholarship programs are based on need. They are competitive and work on a first-come, first-served basis – yet another reason to start your search early.

The main point is to concentrate on checking everywhere for everything. Look where it may not be obvious and ask when it may seem pointless. Try not to get easily discouraged or exhausted too soon - you never know what you may uncover!