These case studies show different financial aid packages families might receive from different schools. Each school must consider its own financial aid budget, and its own school policies and practices when it makes a financial aid decision.


Case Study 1: The Smith Family Applies for Aid at Two Different Schools

To offset the difference between educational costs and a family’s ability to contribute (as determined by the Parents' Financial Statement), a school may offer a family a package that contains one or more sources of funds. Consider this example in which a family was found to have $10,000 in financial need/aid eligibility. Different schools may offer that same family different packages to meet all or part of that need.

Summary of The Smith Family's Need

$15,000 Tuition and other costs

-$5,000 Amount the family can contribute (as determined by the school and SSS by NAIS)

$10,000 Financial need/aid eligibility

Scenario A: One Possible Financial Aid Package a School Might Offer the Smith Family

A financial aid package may represent a single source of financial assistance (one $10,000 grant), or it may be assembled from a number of sources. For example, the Smith family might be offered a package like this:

$7,000 Grant from school

+ $3,000 Merit scholarship

$10,000 Total aid

Scenario B: Another Possible Financial Aid Package a School Might Offer the Smith Family

Sometimes an aid package still does not meet the full need you’ve demonstrated. A school that has limited financial aid funding might be able to offer a package to the Smith family that looks like this:

$6,000 Grant from school

+ $1,000 Scholarship

$7,000 Total aid ($3,000 in unmet aid)

The Smith family must find $3,000 in addition to the $5,000 the school determines that the family can pay. Remembering that the Smith family bears primary responsibility to pay for private school, it must plan its resources accordingly. Many families find options such as tuition loan programs helpful to meet gaps the school cannot fill.


Case Study 2: Three Families Apply for Aid at a School

This case study shows how different family circumstances lead to different determinations of financial need/ financial aid eligibility at the Metropolitan School.

Before you review the case study, keep in mind:

  • When the SSS by NAIS process evaluates an aid application, the result is only a recommendation. Schools are then encouraged to apply additional review and consideration to the evaluation before making a final decision about what a family might be able to pay. As a result, the SSS assessment may differ from the school’s final determination.
  • When determining ability to contribute, the SSS process considers many factors that are based on national averages and trends in family expenses. The examples here reflect those national averages. Any given school may make an additional consideration for localized cost-of-living factors and revise the SSS recommendation to be more in line with local conditions.
  • Showing need for financial aid doesn’t stop at how much you can pay. Of equal importance is how much tuition the school charges.

At the Metropolitan School, tuition is $14,500. The three families below, all with different financial circumstances, apply for aid at the Metropolitan School. The school (using the SSS assessment as a start) determines that each family can contribute a different amount to its educational expenses.

The Rodriguez Family

Summary of Family Circumstances:

  • Married couple, mom works part time, moderate assets
  • Mom's income $30,000 (part time)
  • Dad's income: $70,000
  • Children: one
  • Home value: $400,000
  • Mortgage debt: $250,000
  • Non-retirement savings: $30,000

Family's estimated ability to contribute to tuition: $18,554 

Financial aid eligibility: $0. Contribution exceeds tuition.

The Matthews Family

Summary of Family Circumstances:

  • Single parent, small family, few assets
  • Dad’s income: $60,000
  • Children: two, with one attending college
  • Home value: $120,000
  • Mortgage debt: $80,000
  • Non-retirement savings: $8,000

Family's estimated ability to contribute to tuition: $3,350

Financial aid eligibility: $11,150

The Rogers Family

Summary of Family Circumstances:

  • Married couple, big family, high assets
  • Dad’s income: $48,500
  • Mom’s income: $102,000
  • Children: four total — two applying to private schools, one in college
  • Home value: $465,000
  • Mortgage debt: $210,000
  • Other real estate value: $165,000
  • Non-retirement savings: $40,000
  • Investments: $22,000

Family's estimated ability to contribute to tuition: $11,113 (per child)

Financial aid eligibility: $3,387


Important: Being eligible for financial aid does not guarantee that a given school has enough financial aid available for your family. Be sure you understand the degree to which the school is able to meet any or all of the financial need you might demonstrate.