You want the best education for your child, and to find a school that will successfully prepare him or her for college, life, family, service and beyond. Based on everything you’ve researched and learned, private school has become an important option to consider. Now comes the most practical consideration: can you afford it? Rest assured that a private school education is not just for the affluent. You do have some financial options at your disposal in order to make this investment in your child’s future. And that’s exactly what it is: investment with far greater returns than you may realize.

“While it is well known that students in private schools tend to test better than their public school counterparts, what people may not realize is that private schools are more likely to have a dedicated staff focused on college admissions. That’s not the case for many public schools around the country…The hand-holding and the private school connections can put a student at an advantage when applying for top colleges, stacking the odds in his or her favor that they will come out of school and land a high-paying job. That is not to say everyone who attends private school will go on to a successful career, but many do.” – Is Private School for Your Child a Good Value?

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Let’s start with the basics: Many schools offer merit-based scholarships and need-based tuition assistance (or financial aid) programs that can reduce tuition.

  • Merit-based scholarships are generally determined by specific criteria, for example, academic performance in the classroom, on an entrance exam score, or accomplishments outside of the classroom.

So now, let’s talk about financial aid, where a family’s income determines possible assistance. Many schools will use a third-party application process to review family financial information to determine an aid award. These applications typically will ask you to submit all of your financial records (ex., filed federal tax returns (1040), W-2 forms, etc.), but each school will require different information, so it is important to work with the schools your son is applying to in order to ensure you submit exactly what’s needed.

Once a family’s information has been reviewed, a financial aid committee will determine an award amount based on the school’s internal criteria. Each school will be different in how they approach financial aid and merit-based scholarships, even allocating the amount of tuition assistance and scholarships differently based on the school’s particular mission and vision.

It is important to understand that neither of these options – merit- or need-based scholarships – require the family to repay the amount awarded.

Payment Plans And Family Assistance

Finally, while it’s not aid, many schools offer various tuition payment plan options so families are able to spread out what they owe over time (without any interest charges incurred, unlike at a bank), making tuition bills more manageable. In fact, did you know that only 17% of private school parents pay in a lump sum, leaving a large majority who take advantage of payment plans? (

This next option will require a larger family conversation: Grandparents, aunts or uncles may be able to bestow tuition funds on your student as birthday or holiday gifts. Grandparents may even be able to gift assets as part of estate planning without triggering any gift taxes. Make sure to consult with your financial advisor before exploring this route.

Additional Options for Consideration

You do have financial options outside of those offered by the specific school you are applying to.

Two recent articles, “How to Afford Private School K-12 Tuition” by Amy Fontinelle and “How to Get Private School Financial Aid” by Doug Abrahms, provide an overview of alternatives families can explore outside of the school they are looking at applying to. They speak explicitly about how Coverdell Education Saving Accounts (ESA), 529 Plans, Roth IRAs, independent bank loans, and home equity loans could be leveraged to reduce the total cost of a private school education. It is crucial to spend time researching each option to see if it is the right fit for you and your family.

Ask the Experts

Applying for financial aid and scholarships can seem daunting; however, the best resource and place to start is by contacting the Admissions Office at the school your son is interested in attending. They will be more than happy to help you navigate the process. With some research, you can find a private college preparatory school that fits your academic and financial needs.

Return on Investment

It bears repeating: a quality private education is one of the best investments you can make for your son’s future. While private school tuition might be expensive, the benefits of private school education can be well worth the cost. By attending a private college preparatory school, your son will be in an environment that is more conducive to learning and participating in extracurricular activities while also being a member of a community where his classmates and teachers know him. It is an educational experience that teaches your son the skills, moral character, and knowledge to succeed in college and beyond.

We’re Investing in the Next Generation of Leaders

At St. Thomas High School, we believe a faith-based college preparatory education should be available to anyone who desires it. This year’s financial aid and scholarship awards show that St. Thomas is committed to making this education accessible.

  • Awarded $2.7 million in financial aid and scholarships
  • 1/3 of the student body received either tuition assistance or a scholarship
  • The average financial aid award for an STH student was 55% of tuition (based on this year’s annual tuition of $21,900)
  • The average scholarship award for an STH student was 47% of tuition (based on this year’s annual tuition of $21,900).

St. Thomas can be affordable for families! To learn more about our financial aid and scholarships program and timelines, visit our affordability page.

Learn More About Us

At St. Thomas High School, a Roman Catholic college preparatory school for young men in grades 9-12 in Houston, Texas, we are focused on educating and enriching outstanding young minds during the most formative years of their lives. Through high-tech classrooms and state-of-the-art athletic facilities to the constant celebration of its rich and storied tradition, the diverse and welcoming St. Thomas community prides itself on providing the most fulfilling and well-rounded high school experience to inquisitive, ambitious and extraordinary young men. We foster a brotherhood for life.