Tuition Aid FAQs
What kind of financial aid does Friends School of Minnesota provide?
FSMN’s tuition aid awards are need-based grants that do not need to be repaid.
How can I tell if my situation demonstrates financial need?
Each family’s financial situation is unique, so income alone does not determine need. A few of the additional factors that affect the decision-making process are the number of family members currently enrolled in tuition-based schools, assets, family size, and unusual expenses. 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 2020-2021 school year, nearly all students receiving aid reported 2019 earnings of less than $130,000. About 60% had a gross family income of less than $90,000, and about 30% had a gross income of less than $60,000.
If my family has been enrolled in the school but never applied for aid, should we apply now?
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 during their first year in the hope of receiving tuition assistance the next year. However, if your financial situation since you joined the school has changed significantly, 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 a job or unexpected illness). Typically, the school isn’t 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 decides to quit their job to start a business).
How are tuition aid award decisions made?
Financial aid applications are reviewed by the FSMN 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. The committee considers some of the following criteria: families who are receiving aid who continue to demonstrate need, entering students who are Quakers, children of staff members, or siblings of current students, and returning families who demonstrate need for the first time.
FSMN 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 estimate helps us make fair and objective financial aid decisions.
How is the amount of an award determined?
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. FSMN 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. The information that families provide through the standardized form determines the EFC.
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 FSMN affordable to all families.
If I am eligible, will I receive an FSMN grant?
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.
How much money will I receive?
Tuition aid awards are not lump 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.
How do I apply for tuition aid for the 2021-2022 school year?
Starting November 1, 2020, go to the SSS website at sss.nais.org/parents. Click on the green button “Apply Now” to enter your Parent Financial Statement (PFS).
If you are interested in learning more about tuition aid for the 2020-2021 school year, please contact Shane.
When should I apply?
You may apply online for 2021-2022 school year at sss.nais.org beginning, November 1, 2020.
Tuition aid applications which are completed by the tuition aid deadline of February 15, 2021, are considered first. Applications received after February 15 will still be considered as long as funds are available.
If you are interested in learning more about tuition assistance for the 2021-22 school year, please contact Shane.
What do I need to know to help my planning for tuition increases?
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.
When do I find out if my child is to receive an FSMN grant?
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 commit to enroll unless you receive an award. Sometimes funds become available as late as the end of the summer.
What can I do to make the process of applying for aid as smooth as possible?
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 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 is completed. 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 the required documents to SSS, be sure to include a cover sheet.
Who needs to apply for tuition aid?
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.
Do I need to apply for tuition aid every year?
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.
What financial information do I need to provide?
All households will need to submit:
Parent Financial Statement (PFS) fill out online at http://sss.nais.org/
Completed 2020 taxes and taxes and all 2020 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 2019 tax forms and schedules.
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 (Monday-Friday: 9:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. EST., Saturday: 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. EST).
Can I apply for financial aid before I apply for admission to FSMN?
Financial aid requests must be accompanied by an admissions application.
SSS will accept your tuition aid application and submitted forms; however, the FSMN Tuition Aid Committee will not consider your request unless you have also applied to the school.
What if I can’t afford the financial aid application fee?
SSS uses 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. Once a qualified family submits a PFS, we simply do not require payment. If you do not feel you can afford the financial aid application fee, please contact Shane at FSMN.
Is tuition aid based on my current income or last year’s income?
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 accordingly.
Essentially, there is a one-year lag. For example, if your income was higher than usual in 2020, then your 2021-2022 award will likely be smaller even if your projected 2021 income is lower than in 2020. Conversely, if your income was lower than usual in 2020, your award might be larger even if your 2021 income is projected to be higher.
Is it too late to apply for tuition aid for 2021-22?
Tuition aid applications for the 2021-2022 school year received after the tuition aid deadline of February 15, 2021, will be considered as long as funds are remaining.
My income fluctuates from year to year. How should I plan?
Many families have a 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.
Are all parents expected to work full-time?
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 attributed 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.
I am a single parent, and the other parent is not in the picture at all. Can I still apply for tuition aid?
FSMN 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. 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.
We hope to answer your questions about tuition aid at Friends School of Minnesota below.
For more information about tuition aid, please contact our admissions director, Shane at 651-621-8937 or by email.