Applying for Financial Aid
Understanding Financial Aid:
A Better Chance is not a scholarship organization and does not provide financial aid for families to attend independent school. Financial aid is awarded to Scholars by the schools to which they are accepted. The amount of aid is determined by each school based on its guidelines and an examination of each family's total financial situation. It is expected that all families will contribute in some way to their child's education. It should be noted that the income of both parents/guardians will be taken into consideration by the schools as long as the whereabouts of each is known. Please note that financial information submitted to A Better Chance and its Member Schools is regarded as strictly confidential, and as such, will not be divulged to third parties.
Financial Aid is awarded by our Member Schools through a combination of grants, scholarships, and very rarely loans. Grants and Scholarships do not need to be re-paid while loans do. Each year our Member Schools provide financial assistance to approximately 90% of A Better Chance Scholars. Additionally, our Member Schools offer payment plans and loan options to enable families to divide costs over the school year.
Applying for Financial Aid:
In addition to the financial information you submit when you apply, families who make it through to the second phase, and will need assistance to afford an independent school education, are required to apply for financial aid. The schools to which you are referred determine the financial aid instrument that will be used to assess need. Many of our schools require families to complete a Parent/Guardian Financial Statment (PFS) through School and Student Services (SSS). Other schools use TADS and some use FAST or FACTS. Once referred, the A Better Chance team will inform you of which financial aid instrument(s) you should utilize. During this time, it is important to pay attention to deadlines; financial aid budgets disappear quickly so you must respond immediately to any request for further financial information. To learn more about the different instruments, please visit the links below.
PFS - http://sssbynais.org/parents
TADS - http://www.tads.com/
FAST - http://ismfast.com/#section:aboutfast
FACTS - http://www.factsmgt.com/page.cfm?p=358
The financial information you enter on any of the instrumets above will result in a report. This report tells each school how much money your family can reasonable pay toward your child's education. On the application, you will be asked which schools should receive your report, if you have not yet received your A Better Chance referral leltter, only select yourself and A Better Chance.
We strongly recommend that you apply for financial aid electronically. Electronic applications are usually processed within 48 hours, while paper applications take at least one week. This can mean the difference between receiving financial aid and not. Be sure to remember the username and password you create as you will need to login again in the future.
Asking Schools About Aid:
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare to ask schools questions about the financial aid process:
DEADLINES – It is crucial not to miss deadlines in order to qualify for financial aid. Schools may not consider your child for financial aid or may provide reduced grants if you miss their deadlines. You need to be prepared weeks ahead of time to meet each school’s particular deadline.
ACCOUNTABILITY - While most schools have a financial aid program to help those who are not able to afford the entire school tuition, most schools believe that families are accountable for contributing towards the tuition as they are able. Some schools expect every family to pay a minimum amount even if the schools award financial aid.
TOTAL COST - Knowing the true cost of a full year of education will help you plan your finances. In addition to the actual tuition, there are other “hidden” costs that can make the actual cost of a school higher than you anticipate. These costs can include uniforms, fees, books, supplies, trips, transportation, clubs, and sports.
The financial aid process can seem daunting. Please see our Financial Aid Questions page for answers to the most common questions. If you have thoroughly read that page and cannot find the answers to your question, please contact your Program Manager.
Return to the How to Apply page.