Financial Aid FAQs

Photo: Courtesy of Maryknoll

Q:  Who should apply for aid?

A:  Schools encourage all families in need to apply for financial assistance. Families should first evaluate their resources, alter spending habits, maximize their earnings and carefully manage their assets before applying for financial aid. One way to gauge your need: If, after adjusting your finances, you still can’t set aside 10 percent of the school’s tuition a month over 10 months, you might be a candidate for financial aid.


Q:  Is there a cutoff in terms of income to qualify for financial aid?

A:  No. Income is just one of several factors taken into consideration when calculating need. The School and Students Service for Financial Aid (SSS) uses a formula accepted nationally among independent schools to analyze need and the family’s ability to contribute to educational expenses. There is no preset income figure that qualifies a family for aid. Numerous factors are considered, including family size, assets, debt, number of children attending tuition-charging schools or colleges, even care responsibility for an elderly parent. If you are in doubt about whether it would be realistic to apply, you might want to visit this web site: Once you have entered basic financial data, it will provide an estimate of the amount that your family could be expected to contribute toward tuition.


Q:  Can my child apply for an academic, athletic or musical scholarship?

A:  While financial aid is based on demonstrated financial need, there are some schools—St. Andrew’s Priory School and Mid-Pacific Institute, among others—that offer merit-based scholarships. But many of these scholarships are also need-based and will not be awarded to families who can afford the full tuition.


Q:  What if my children are enrolled at different tuition-charging institutions?

A:   In order to receive financial aid from one school it is recommended that you apply for aid at all schools your children attend. Other private-school tuitions you pay will then be factored into your financial aid package.


Q:  Will my child’s admission be affected if we apply for financial aid?

A:   No. Admission decisions are completely independent of financial need.


Q:  How early should we file our tax returns?

A:  As early as possible. According to the Internal Revenue Service, W-2s and 1099s should be received by Jan. 31. Financial aid deadlines for new students are often in February, and copies of your completed tax returns are required.


Q:  What if I miss the deadline to apply for financial aid?

A:  It’s never too late to apply for financial aid, but funds are limited and may not be available to those who are late in applying. To receive the maximum benefit, parents are encouraged to apply before the deadline. Pay close attention to the different deadlines as financial aid applications for incoming and returning students differ.


Q:  Will my child’s financial aid award change from year to year? What if our income changes?

A:  You must reapply for financial aid every year, when it is recalculated using current information. In general, if there is little or no change in your family circumstances, you can expect the award to remain at about the same level. Financial aid offices will take into accounts changes, both gains and losses, and adjust the previous year’s award accordingly. Significant changes should be explained either in writing or in person to the financial aid office so the school can offer aid that considers the whole picture. The financial aid awards, however, may be affected by the total funds budgeted and the number of applicants. But do not fear. Even though many schools have seen an increase in financial aid applications (‘Iolani reported a 76 percent increase), even more schools have increased their financial aid awards.


Q:  In a divorce situation, do you need the same information from both parents?

A:  Yes. Each biological parent is required to fill out a separate financial aid application. If either has remarried, most schools require the income of stepparents to be included.


Q:  What if one parent is not legally responsible for supporting the child’s education?

A:  A copy of the divorce decree verifying this arrangement needs to be submitted to the school.


Q:  Will we have to repay any financial aid we receive?

A:   No, if your family is awarded financial aid, you will not be expected to repay the award.


Q:  What are the main reasons financial aid is denied?

A:  Incomplete financial information and too much income.


Q:  Is there an appeals process?

A:  Yes. To appeal a decision, you have to submit a written letter to the financial aid committee explaining why it should reconsider. You may need to provide additional documents to support the appeal. If new or unknown circumstances are indicated on the family’s application, the school might be able to make adjustments to its offer.