How to Afford Private School

In life, a well-funded bank account is always a nice thing to have, but for students interested in attending independent schools, it’s not essential. Coastal Virginia private school leaders say other factors, such as generous financial aid and a good school-family fit, are instead the keys to attending a private school.

At Norfolk Collegiate, with 625 kindergarten through 12th-grade students, everyone can apply for need-based financial aid. Parents complete paperwork, provide income details and explain special circumstances such as a pending divorce or a sudden job loss. A committee meets monthly to review requests and award aid. Each year, they offer $2 million to students. Rising ninth graders who are new to the school are eligible for a scholarship covering half of the tuition. All new ninth graders are encouraged to apply, and a committee selects two winners.

“Lots of people say, ‘I can’t afford an independent school,’” shares Mary Peccie, Norfolk Collegiate’s director of admissions, “but that’s not always the case. It’s worth looking into.”

Norfolk Collegiate follows admission protocols where they ask applicants to take the Independent School Entrance Exam, described on its website as a standard assessment of skills that provides a comparison among peers in reasoning and achievement. Norfolk Collegiate takes in new students in the fall and likes to keep them and their families engaged from the time they learn of their acceptance in March.

“With our parent ambassador program and events in May and August, we get to know everyone,” Peccie says. “We don’t want anyone to feel like they’re ‘new’ when they start school here.”

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