What is Community School's financial aid policy?

Community School has a need-based financial aid policy. For a school our size, we award a substantial amount of financial aid each year. Our admission decisions are made need-blind, without regard to a family's financial situation. We believe no qualified student should be denied enrollment because his or her family cannot afford tuition. It is also important to remember that an independent school education is a choice for families. Both the school and the families make significant financial sacrifices to support this choice. We review each application for financial aid by the same guidelines and evaluate individual family needs relative to others in our school.

What are the expectations of students awarded financial aid?

There are no specific criteria for financial aid recipients; however, they are expected to be responsible members of the school community and make significant contributions to the school, as well as benefit from our educational program.

Who is awarded aid?
Approximately 21 percent of our students receive need-based financial aid. In addition, another 15 percent of students receive tuition remission. For the 2014-2015 school year, $874,000 in financial aid funds was distributed among 79 students. Another 5 percent of the students at Community School received merit scholarships for the 2014-2015 school year. All financial aid awards are kept confidential and the Financial Aid Committee maintains all application materials in strict confidence.

Please note that a family's assets are considered when awarding financial aid. Consequently, it is possible for a family with a modest income to qualify for little or no aid if they have significant savings, investments or home equity. Conversely, a family with few assets may qualify for more aid than a family with a similar (or lesser) income who has more assets. The number of children in tuition-charging schools is also considered. The school allocates awards based on each family's demonstrated need.

Is financial aid available for Outdoor Program trips?

For students who qualify for financial aid, parents may request trip aid on a case-by-case basis. Parents should submit the trip invoice with a written request for trip aid to the Director of Admissions and Financial Aid. The Financial Aid Committee then awards aid based on availability of funds and the family's demonstrated need.

Do parents apply for financial aid just once?

Parents are required to apply for aid annually because tuition increases and changes in family resources may affect the amount of the awards. To be considered, parents must submit all forms and documentation on time. Please see the chart below.

How is a family's need determined?

Community School subscribes to the School and Student Service for Financial Aid (SSS) by NAIS. Families submit a Parents' Financial Statement, one for each parent in the case of separated or divorced parents, providing detailed financial information to SSS. Then SSS evaluates the information based on a formula nationally accepted by independent schools. The result of the evaluation is printed on a Report of Family Contribution (RFC) and sent to Community School. In processing applications, SSS takes many factors into account, such as:

  • Income (taxable and nontaxable)
  • Monetary gifts from grandparents, etc.
  • Assets (home equity, rental and vacation property, savings, stocks, bonds, etc.)
  • Unusual Expenses (medical, etc.)
  • Indebtedness (consumer indebtedness and current business debts are generally not allowable, while debts from a dissolved business are often allowable)
  • Family size
  • Age of parents (allows for retirement savings)
  • Number of children attending tuition-charging schools

SSS considers these factors and provides every family with a living allowance based on family size. This allowance protects a certain amount of income after a variety of expenses are already subtracted from a family's income. SSS also caps home equity at three times the total income. This process helps determine a family's "discretionary income." A portion of this discretionary income is then suggested as the family contribution for education. The more discretionary income a family has the higher the family's expected contribution for education.

There can be some variation between the SSS estimation of a family's financial need and what Community School actually awards. While SSS merely keys in the data provided on the PFS, our Director of Admissions and Financial Aid reviews and recalculates the family's financial profile based on information gleaned from taxes and other documentation provided by the family. The Financial Aid Committee then meets to discuss each family's situation and allocates awards accordingly. Our committee also considers the reality that we live in a high cost area.

What is the average financial aid award?

In 2013-2014, the average financial aid award was $11,560 in the elementary school, $11,700 in the middle school, and $11,600 in the upper school. The average overall percentage of tuition granted is 48%.

What about separated or divorced parents?

Community School endorses the recommended policy of the School and Student Service for Financial Aid stating that parents have the obligation to pay for the educational expenses of their children to the extent they are able, and that obligation takes precedence over the school's responsibility to provide financial assistance. We believe the primary responsibility for a child's education rests with both natural parents. We cannot be bound by the assertion that one parent has disclaimed responsibility for educational expenses. Financial aid is based on ability to pay, not willingness to pay. Therefore, we expect both parents to complete all steps in the application process. The income and assets of stepparents or domestic partners will also be included in calculations, always bearing in mind the obligation of that partner to his or her own natural children. It is the responsibility of the custodial parent to request additional forms for the non-custodial parent if they have not been mailed with the financial aid packet. We will waive the requirement for the non-custodial parent to complete the PFS and other forms if the location of the non-custodial parent is unknown or we have documented information that the non-custodial parent provides no support and is not in contact with the child. If extenuating circumstances might warrant waiving this requirement, written requests should be sent to the Financial Aid Committee.

Must both parents be employed to receive financial aid?

In general, both parents must be employed if all children in the family are beyond preschool age. For many of our families (those who receive aid and those who do not), both parents are employed so that they can provide an independent school education for their children. We also realize that in some families circumstances may make this impossible. Explaining the circumstances in your financial aid application and describing the non-working partner's plans for eventual employment are important. In order to prevent penalizing dual-income families, we may impute a salary amount for non-working parents as an equalizer, unless extenuating circumstances prohibit a parent from working.

How much does it cost to apply for aid?

The fee to apply online is $47. SSS begins accepting applications on November 1, 2016 for the 2017-18 school year.

Should our family apply for financial aid?

Few families find it easy to pay independent school tuition. Most families adjust their spending priorities, maximize both parents' earnings, and carefully manage assets to do so. We would like to provide firm guidelines to help you decide whether to apply for aid, but we have found that each family's combination of circumstances is unique. The most helpful guideline comes from your own knowledge of your family's finances. A good rule of thumb is, if in doubt, apply. The cost is minimal, and there is no specific income level at which a family no longer qualifies for financial aid. Every situation is unique. If you feel you cannot pay the financial aid application fee, there are limited fee waivers available through the Admissions Office.

What are the deadlines for the school year?

Please notify the Director of Admission and Financial Aid as soon as possible if you plan to apply for financial aid. Financial Aid Application packets will be mailed to families desiring to apply for aid in January 2017. To be considered for an award for the school year, parents/guardians must submit documents as reflected in the following chart.

Reminder: For separated or divorced parents, each parent (custodial and non-custodial) must submit all required forms on behalf of his or her household In certain cases, we may request that grandparents or other individuals who pay for most or all of a student's tuition submit an application in lieu of or in addition to the parent(s) application.

PARENTS’ FINANCIAL STATEMENT (PFS),
with processing $47 fee


Note: DO NOT send income tax returns to SSS;
          DO send copies of tax returns to Community School

Mail to: SSS by NAIS
             PO Box 449, Randolph, MA 02368-0449

Please make a copy of the PFS for your personal records.

Fill out online no later than March 3, 2017

COMMUNITY SCHOOL FINANCIAL AID APPLICATION

With a copy of 2016 income tax return, to include these IRS Forms:
  • 1040
  • W-2s
  • 1099s
  • 4506 (if requested)
  • 4868 (if tax return incomplete)
Submit to Community School Financial Aid Office, due to the school no later than March 3, 2017.

IF YOU OWN A BUSINESS OR FARM:

Business/Farm Statement with a copy of these IRS Forms:
  • Schedule C (1040) 1120, if incorporated
  • 1120SH, if Subchapter S
  • CorpK-1, if partner/shareholder

Submit to Community School Financial Aid Office, due to the school no later than March 3, 2017.

What other resources are available to help fund my child's independent school education?
There are student loans available through sources outside of the school. The following link will take you to the NAIS website which offers a listing of some of the tuition loan programs available for K-12 schools. Tuition Loan Programs

In addition to financial aid, Community School also offers Merit Scholarships. Below is more information regarding Merit Scholarships:

Merit Program 2016-17.pdf

Please call the Director of Admissions and Financial Aid for further information: Katie Robins 622-3960 ext. 117.

Financial Aid Info for Families 2017-18

Financial Aid Application 2017-18