Tuition Aid FAQ

We hope your questions about tuition aid at Friends School of Minnesota are answered below.

For more information about tuition aid, please contact our admissions director, Shane at 651-621-8937 or by email.  

Tuition aid applications for the 2016-17 school year received after the tuition aid deadline of February 15, 2016 will be considered as long as there are funds remaining. 

We expect that families who begin by paying full tuition to the school will continue to do so unless unforeseen circumstances make that impossible. We advise families not to go to extraordinary lengths to pay full tuition their first year in the hope of receiving tuition assistance the next year. However, if your financial situation has changed significantly since you joined the school, you should apply for aid.

The school makes every effort to be helpful in the case of circumstances beyond a family’s control; for example, loss of job or unexpected illness. The school is usually not able to support parents who choose to make a change in their employment status that reduces their income; for example, a working parent who returns to school, or a parent who chooses to quit his/her job to start a business.

Many families have fluctuating income. Please understand that the tuition aid process is based on your previous year's income.

If you have a higher income year, you will need to plan ahead and save money for tuition for the following year. Conversely, you may benefit from a lower income year as you may receive a higher aid award even if your current year's income is larger.

Financial aid applications are reviewed by the FSM Tuition Aid Committee which is made up of members of the administration. All information is confidential.

The Tuition Aid Committee makes decisions that help the school honor its commitment to building a diverse and inclusive community. Some of the criteria considered include families who are receiving aid who continue to demonstrate need; entering students who are Quakers, staff children, or siblings of current students; and returning families who demonstrate need for the first time.

FSM uses School and Student Services (SSS) to process financial aid applications. SSS is a service of the National Association of Independent Schools. Based on the financial information you provide, SSS gives us an estimated amount your family can contribute to educational expenses. This helps us make fair and objective financial aid decisions. 

The school recognizes that families make all kinds of decisions about employment. We support families of many different income levels.

When considering a family's financial need, we do consider the earning potential of all parents of school-age children. If a parent chooses to be a stay-at-home-parent, attend school, work part time or other similar low or no-wage options, potential wages will be imputed to reflect a family's potential income level.  

The school will not impute income for a stay-at-home parent caring for an infant or preschool age child.

We use the information from your online tuition aid application to the School and Scholarship Service for Financial Aid (SSS), along with materials each family sends directly to SSS as the basis for calculating the size of the award. 

The criterion for tuition aid is financial need. The school expects families to finance their children’s education to the extent that they can. The school and SSS consider the family primarily responsible for financing a child's education.

SSS considers each family's income, expenses, assets, debts and special circumstances when calculating a family’s Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) amount using information that families provide through a standardized form.

Friends School uses the EFC as a guide in making awards that meet part or most of a family's need.  Friends School is not able to meet 100% of the EFC calculated by SSS but we work hard to make FSM affordable to all families.

The amount of tuition aid requested sometimes exceeds the amount we have to offer, even for qualifying families.

If we do not have assistance available when initial awards are made, you will be placed on a waiting list. If money becomes available later, you will receive notification of your award at that time.

We are usually able to assist most of the qualifying families who apply for tuition aid.

FSM expects parents to participate in the financial aid process even in the case of divorce or separation, and even when the parents do not have—or never had—a formal, legal relationship.

We may waive participation by a non-custodial parent if that person has had minimal or no contact with the child for at least two years, and has not provided any financial support for the child during that time.  In order to substantiate this lack of contact and support the school requires a written statement from a non-family member such as a lawyer, a teacher, a doctor, a social worker, or a member of the clergy, who is aware of the family situation in a professional capacity. Please understand that if contact is re-established, the non-custodial parent will be expected to participate in future financial aid applications, per our policy.

Tuition aid awards are not lumo sums of money doled out by the school, but rather a discount from base tuition. The discount you receive depends on your need and the number of other families requesting aid.  All families are asked to pay at least 10% of tuition.

Starting November 1, 2016, go to the SSS website at sss.nais.org/parents. Click on the green button "Apply Now" to enter your Parent Financial Statement (PFS).

Financial aid applications are due February 15, 2017

If you are interested in learning more about tuition aid for the 2015-16 school year, please contact Shane.

 

You may apply online for 2017-18 school year at sss.nais.org beginning November 1, 2016.

Tuition aid applications which are completed by the tuition aid deadline of February 15, 2017 are considered first. Applications received after February 15 will still be considered as long as funds are available.

Financial aid applications for the 2017-18 school year are due February 15, 2017.

If you are interested in learning more about tuition assistance for the 2016-17 school year, please contact Shane.

As you plan for the long term, remember that tuition will increase each year, usually between four and six percent.

There are also increases in tuition when a student enters grades five and seven.

Even if the percentage of tuition aid you are awarded remains the same, the amount of tuition you pay is very likely to be somewhat higher each year.

You receive this information with the letter of acceptance in early April. It will tell you

(a) the amount of the grant you have been awarded, or

(b) that you are eligible for a grant, but are on the waiting list until funds become available, or

(c) that you do not qualify for a Friends School grant.

If you are on the tuition aid waiting list, you will not be asked to make a commitment to enroll unless you receive an award. Sometimes funds become available as late as the end of the summer.

Please be aware that the application deadline is in mid-February. That means that you will need to have your income taxes filed by that time.

It is very helpful to the Tuition Aid Committee—and to your application—if all of the required materials arrive by the deadline of February 15.

If your completed application arrives after the deadline, you may be placed on a waiting list for consideration after initial awards are made.

It is also important that your application be complete. If you have not provided information that is required, your request cannot be processed.

We encourage families to fill out their PFS online and upload required documents to SSS website.  If you prefer to mail required documents to SSS, be sure to include a  cover sheet.

The school expects financial support from a child’s biological/adoptive parents as well as from the adults a child lives with (step-parents and partners).

Please be aware that we also believe that divorced or separated parents have an ethical obligation to contribute to their children’s educational expenses whether or not they have a legal obligation to do so.

Because families’ financial picture can change from year to year, families must re-apply for tuition aid every year.

Your tuition aid award is based upon your financial information from the previous tax year.

All households will need to submit:

Parent Financial Statement (PFS) fill out online at  http://sss.nais.org/

Completed 2015 taxes  and all 2015 W-2's, 1099's and all other schedules and forms 

If you are applying for tuition aid for the first time, also submit copies of all 2014 tax forms and schedules.

Friends School of MN Institutional Aid Application  (pdf 117 KB) same form as a .doc  (.doc 69 KB) (so you can fill it out on your computer without printing out)

If you are MAILING your documents, you need a Required Documents  COVER SHEET If you upload your documents to SSS, you do not need this cover sheet.

Call SSS (800) 344-8328 with any questions (Mon - Fri: 9 a.m. - 8 p.m. EST. Sat: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. EST)

Financial aid requests must be accompanied by an admissions application.

SSS will accept your tuition aid application and submitted forms, however, the FSM tuition aid committee will not consider your request unless you have also applied to the school.

Beginning with the 2016-17 processing year, SSS is using the financial information in the PFS itself to means-test a family’s situation, and automatically applies a waiver if the family qualifies under our new criteria. The end result will be a process where once a qualified family submits a PFS, we simply will not require payment. If you do not feel you can afford the financial aid application fee, please contact Shane at FSM.

FSM's tuition aid awards are need-based grants that do not need to be repaid. 

Your tuition aid award is determined by your previous year's income, not your current or projected income.

So, if you experience fluctuating income, you will need to plan ahead. 

Essentially, there is a one-year lag. For example, if your income was higher than usual in 2015, then your 2016-17 award will likely be smaller even if your projected 2016 income is lower than in 2015.  Conversely, if your income was lower than usual in 2015, your award might be larger even if your 2016 income is projected to be higher.

Each family's financial situation is unique, so income alone does not determine need. The number of students in tuition-based schools, assets, family size, and unusual expenses are a few of the additional factors that affect the decision-making process. Income, however, is the primary guide used by SSS and Friends School in determining estimated family contributions. 

To get a rough idea about whether your family would qualify for tuition aid, consider that for the 2015-16 school year, nearly all students receiving aid reported 2014 earnings of less than $120,000. About 60% had a gross family income of less than $90,000, and about 30% had a gross income of less than $60,000.