Applying for Financial Aid
Understanding Financial Aid:
A Better Chance is not a scholarship organization and does not provide financial aid. 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 the candidate's family's total financial situation. It is expected that families will contribute in some way to their child's education. 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. 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 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:
Some schools consider applications on a rolling basis, and they may not consider applications without the required financial aid information. So please complete the following steps as quickly as possible.
1. Complete the Parents' Financial Statement (PFS) Application By December 1.
Most of our Member Schools are members of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). This organization centralizes the financial aid process so that families only have to provide their financial information once and the results are shared with all of the appropriate schools. We strongly recommend that you complete the online version of the application. The electronic application will be processed within 48 hours, while the paper application takes at least one week. That can mean the differece between receiving financial aid and not.
If you complete the PFS online, be sure to remember the username and password you create at the PFS website. You will need to login again in the future.
The financial information you enter will result in a Report of Family Contribution (RFC). This report tells each school how much money your family can reasonable pay toward your child's education. On the application, it will ask which schools to send your RFC to. If you have not yet received your A Better Chance referral leltter, only select yourself and A Better Chance. Because our headquarters are located in New York, you will find A Better Chance listed with the New York schools. (On the paper version, A Better Chance's recipient code is 1024).
2. Report the Results:
Once you have received a letter from A Better Chance naming the schools your child has been referred to, login to the system again and have your report sent to those schools.
Please note: Not all Member Schools belong to the NAIS and may use a different financial aid system. Please contact your Program Manager for help with those schools. If you have independently applied to specific schools (outside of A Better Chance) that are members of NAIS, you should have your report sent to them.
3. Send in required tax documents:
The NAIS requires you to provide tax documents in order to verify your stated income. Be sure to file your taxes as early as possible in the new year. You will need to send those in as well.
4. Contact Each School:
Some schools require additional information. Contact the schools your child has been referred to in order to learn what supplemental financial information they requre.
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 financial aid 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. The deadline for aid will include the submission of the PFS so 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.