If we are paying for private high school for our younger children, will colleges recognize this expense and give us more financial aid for our oldest child?
Though a few wealthy private colleges may automatically take siblings in private high school into account in their financial aid calculations, this automatic treatment is rare in the financial aid world.
Applying for Financial Aid When Another Child is in Private High School
The vast majority of colleges do not consider private K-12 tuition when making their financial aid awards, at least not by default. In fact, most colleges would have no way of knowing about private school costs your family is bearing because the FAFSA form does not ask about the private school attendance of siblings. The FAFSA formula considers the number of people in your household and the number of children you have in college, but NOT the number of children you are putting through private high school.
Request that Private School Costs be Considered by College Aid Offices
Though not taken into account by default, many colleges may be willing to take the private school costs of your younger children into account by request. I encourage parents paying private K-12 tuition to submit a letter to the college aid offices, asking them to consider your excess educational costs when determining your college-bound child’s aid award (or to reconsider an aid package already awarded).
Outline Need for Private School in Financial Aid Appeal Letter
The process of including a special request as part of a financial aid application is called an “appeal”. Appeal letters should contain very specific facts and figures, and documentation (like a high school tuition bill) is often required. In addition, if your younger children have special needs (like learning disabilities, emotional issues, or physical impairments) which you feel are better addressed in a private school environment, be sure to mention these difficulties in an appeal letter. A college that may otherwise consider private high school tuition to be a luxury expenditure may be more willing to account for these excess costs if the expense appears to be non-discretionary.