A Glossary of Independent School Financial Aid Terms

students and teachers meet outside at the governor's academy
Ray Long- Director of Financial Aid

Phrases to know as you navigate the financial aid process

An important aspect of finding the best school for your child is understanding the cost. At first, the independent school financial aid process might feel overwhelming to you on top of the application process. As an independent school educator for almost two decades and director of financial aid for over a decade, I hope to demystify the financial aid process by providing a glossary of key terms that you will encounter during the process. 

Need-based Financial Aid

This is financial aid that is based solely upon a family’s financial situation. Your family will fill out information about your income, assets, expenses, debts, and other financial considerations when you apply for financial aid. At Governor’s, we use that information to calculate the amount your family could contribute towards tuition. The remaining amount would be covered by a financial aid grant. Need-based financial aid wouldn’t grant more than what is needed to cover the gap between what your family can contribute and the tuition cost.

Merit-based Financial Aid

This is financial aid that is given for reasons other than financial need. Some schools might offer a merit scholarship based upon your class rank or based upon results on a placement test. Other schools may have a scholarship where you complete additional essays in order to be considered. Merit-based financial aid can be given to families with or without a financial need. Governor’s, like many other independent secondary schools, does not offer any merit-based financial aid.

Financial Aid Grant

This is the amount of financial aid received to cover the difference between what your family can contribute and the total tuition. It is a grant because the school does not expect it to be paid back at a later date. Governor’s, like many other independent schools, does not offer financial aid as a loan.

Clarity Financial

This year, Governor’s will be using Clarity for our financial aid application  We have partnered with Clarity as they streamline the questions to be more specific to each family rather than asking the same set of questions to all families. Clarity asks some general questions at the start to speed up the application process, then ask only questions that are relevant to your family. This should shorten the application process for a majority of families. Clarity will also be able to pull your prior year tax forms directly from the IRS.

Family Suggested Tuition (FST)

FST represents the calculated value your family can contribute towards tuition. At some schools, this is known as Estimated Family Contribution (EFC). Family size, income, expenses, assets, and debts are considered in the calculation of FST. After calculating the FST, we then look at how many children your family has enrolled in tuition-based schools such as private schools, parochial schools, colleges, universities, and day cares. The FST is divided amongst all children who are enrolled in tuition-based schools. For your student attending Governor’s, your family would be expected to pay that child’s piece towards tuition. For example, if your family’s FST was $10,000 and you had one child attending Governor’s and one child attending another tuition-based school, then your family’s contribution towards tuition at Governor’s would be $5,000.

Author: Ray Long, Director of Financial Aid

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