How do you find the best private school to fit your child’s needs?

There are a lot of details to consider when choosing a private school in the ESA program. Questions to consider include:

  • Which things are most important to your family?
  • Are you looking for a private school with: A family atmosphere? Supporting staff? Commitment to parents? Diversity, inclusion?
  • Are you looking for a faith-based and/or values-based education?
  • Will your student need transportation? (Every private school will not provide transportation.)
  • Does your student have any support services at his or her current school, such as language learning, math/reading support services, or tutoring?
  • Does your student participate in extracurricular activities, such as choir, band, or drama?
  • Will the school’s tuition and fees be more than the ESA amount? Will you need financial aid?
Student heading to private school

Choosing the Right School

1.

Pull up the list of participating schools here. Remember, the ESA program can only be used at a participating private school from this list. If you already have a school or two in mind that interests you or your student, check out the information those schools have provided. If not, pick one to start. You will want to look at each school’s:

  • List of tuition and fees
  • Admissions policy
  • Academic calendar
  • School handbook

2.

You may also want to explore the schools’ websites. The website addresses for each participating school are located on the participating schools list.

3.

Make a list of “pros and cons” about each school. On the “pros” side, list the things you or your student like about the school as well as how they match your needs or wants. On the “cons” side, list the drawbacks or your concerns about the school. Now look at your “pros and cons” list. Which schools have the most “pros?” These are the schools you will want to check out further.

4.

You may want to call the school and make an appointment for a visit. Ask if the school will allow your student to shadow a few classes while you visit with the school administration. (Page 4 of the downloadable guide offers more questions to ask during your school visit.)

Financial Aid: Paying for Private School

You will notice that several participating private schools have tuition and fees that are more than the ESA funds. If you choose a school that costs more than the ESA amount, you may need to explore financial aid or agree to pay the remaining balance yourself. There are three types of financial aid for private schools:

Grant Icon

Grants

Money available for education, based upon family income

Scholarships Icon

Scholarships

Money available for education, based upon income, grades, or athletics

Loans Icon

Loans

Money available for education that must be repaid with interest, just like credit cards

Grants and scholarships do NOT have to be repaid and can be used in addition to the ESA. Private loans must be repaid with interest. It is important that you understand the school’s fees and tuition payment policies. Any amount of tuition you agree to pay to the school can be sent to collections if you default on your tuition payment agreements.

For a list of questions to ask during your school visit, download the printable guide here.

What to Expect

Private school classroom

After You Apply

  1. After submitting the ESA application, you will receive a confirmation by email that your application has been received by the department. This confirmation doesn’t mean you have been officially approved.
  2. Begin looking at the participating private school list on the ESA website, check out the schools’ websites, and pick one or two that may be the best fit.
  3. As you begin the school’s admissions process, show school officials the confirmation email that you have applied for an ESA.
  4. In April, you will receive either an acceptance or denial letter from the department for the ESA program.
  5. Finally, you will upload the acceptance letter from the private school into your FACTS Management online account to show that you are accepting the ESA award.
Download Guide to Choosing a Private School

Before the First Day of School

Purchase uniforms, textbooks, and all required materials. (The complete list of supplies for your new school may be found on the school’s website.) If you have funds remaining in your ESA account, review the list of items you can buy with your ESA funds.

If your child would like to participate in extracurricular activities, be sure to ask if there are additional supplies, equipment, or fees required.

To help you plan for the first week of school, the first month of school, and throughout the school year, click the button below.

Adjusting to a New School Environment

Students together

New Friends

It will take time for your student to make friends at a new school. If your student doesn’t seem to be adjusting, talk with the school administration about support strategies.

private school classroom

New Culture

Your student may experience a “culture shock” when meeting other students from different backgrounds, especially those who have only attended private schools. Remind your student that every student at the school is there to do his or her best.

Students at private school

Support

It will be important to identify a mentor for your student at the new school. This could be a teacher, guidance counselor, or coach whom your student can go to if they experience stress at school.

What are the students’ responsibilities?

Conduct

ESA program participants must follow all the rules of the new school. Both parents and students should carefully review the school’s rules for classwork and behavior so that they understand the rules before they begin their first day of school. Private schools often have stricter standards for behavior than public schools.

Attendance

Each private school has a different attendance policy. 

  • Review the school’s attendance policy and be sure your child does not miss too many days of school.
  • Make a plan to arrive at school on time:
    • – Prepare the uniform the night before, allow extra time for traffic, etc.
    • – Have homework, school supplies, and bookbags packed and ready to go the night before a school day.

Be aware that some schools charge a fee if students are not picked up on time.

Volunteering

Each school has different rules. Parents may be asked to:

  • Volunteer in the classroom.
  • Chaperone at least one field trip during a school year.

Communication

  • Be sure to communicate with the school in a timely way.
  • If a teacher or administrator reaches out to you, they often expect a response within one business day.
  • Communication often is sent through a parent website.
  • Set aside at least 15 minutes each day to visit the website, review your child’s grades, and check for teacher comments.

Have additional questions about private schools?

Student heading to private school

How do you find the best private school to fit your child’s needs?

There are a lot of details to consider when choosing a private school in the ESA program. Questions to consider include:

  • Which things are most important to your family?
  • Are you looking for a private school with: A family atmosphere? Supporting staff? Commitment to parents? Diversity, inclusion?
  • Are you looking for a faith-based and/or values-based education?
  • Will your student need transportation? (Every private school will not provide transportation.)
  • Does your student have any support services at his or her current school, such as language learning, math/reading support services, or tutoring?
  • Does your student participate in extracurricular activities, such as choir, band, or drama?
  • Will the school’s tuition and fees be more than the ESA amount? Will you need financial aid?

Choosing the Right School

1.

Pull up the list of participating schools here. Remember, the ESA program can only be used at a participating private school from this list. If you already have a school or two in mind that interests you or your student, check out the information those schools have provided. If not, pick one to start. You will want to look at each school’s:

  • List of tuition and fees
  • Admissions policy
  • Academic calendar
  • School handbook

2.

You may also want to explore the schools’ websites. The website addresses for each participating school are located at the participating schools list.

3.

Make a list of “pros and cons” about each school. On the “pros” side, list the things you or your student like about the school as well as how they match your needs or wants. On the “cons” side, list the drawbacks or your concerns about the school. Now look at your “pros and cons” list. Which schools have the most “pros?” These are the schools you will want to check out further.

4.

You may want to call the school and make an appointment for a visit. Ask if the school will allow your student to shadow a few classes while you visit with the school administration. (Page 4 of the downloadable guide offers more questions to ask during your school visit.)

Financial Aid: Paying for Private School

You will notice that several participating private schools have tuition and fees that are more than the ESA funds. If you choose a school that costs more than the ESA amount, you may need to explore financial aid or agree to pay the remaining balance yourself. There are three types of financial aid for private schools:

Grant Icon

Grants

Money available for education, based upon family income

Scholarships Icon

Scholarships

Money available for education, based upon income, grades, or athletics

Loans Icon

Loans

Money available for education that must be repaid with interest, just like credit cards

Grants and scholarships do NOT have to be repaid and can be used in addition to the ESA. Private loans must be repaid with interest. It is important that you understand the school’s fees and tuition payment policies. Any amount of tuition you agree to pay to the school can be sent to collections if you default on your tuition payment agreements.

For a list of questions to ask during your school visit, download the printable guide here.

What to Expect

Private school classroom

After You Apply

  1. After submitting the ESA application, you will receive a confirmation by email that your application has been received by the department. This confirmation doesn’t mean you have been officially approved.
  2. Begin looking at the participating private school list on the ESA website, check out the schools’ websites, and pick one or two that may be the best fit.
  3. As you begin the school’s admissions process, show school officials the confirmation email that you have applied for an ESA.
  4. In April, you will receive either an acceptance or denial letter from the department for the ESA program.
  5. Finally, you will upload the acceptance letter from the private school into your FACTS Management online account to show that you are accepting the ESA award.
Download Guide to Choosing a Private School

Before the First Day of School

Purchase uniforms, textbooks, and all required materials. (The complete list of supplies for your new school may be found on the school’s website.) If you have funds remaining in your ESA account, review the list of items you can buy with your ESA funds.

If your student would like to participate in extracurricular activities, be sure to ask if there are additional supplies, equipment, or fees required.

To help you plan for the first week of school, the first month of school, and throughout the school year, click the button below.

Adjusting to a New School Environment

Students together

New Friends

It will take time for your student to make friends at a new school. If your student doesn’t seem to be adjusting, talk with the school administration about support strategies.

private school classroom

New Culture

Your student may experience a “culture shock” when meeting other students from different backgrounds, especially those who have only attended private schools. Remind your student that every student at the school is there to do his or her best.

Students at private school

Support

It will be important to identify a mentor for your student at the new school. This could be a teacher, guidance counselor, or coach whom your student can go to if they experience stress at school.

What are the students’ responsibilities?

Conduct

ESA program participants must follow all the rules of the new school. Both parents and children should carefully review the school’s rules for classwork and behavior so that they understand the rules before they begin their first day of school. Private schools often have stricter standards for behavior than public schools.

Attendance

Each private school has a different attendance policy. 

  • Review the school’s attendance policy and be sure your student does not miss too many days of school.
  • Make a plan to arrive at school on time:
    – Prepare the uniform the night before, allow extra time for traffic, etc.
    – Have homework, school supplies, and bookbags packed and ready to go the night before a school day.

Be aware that some schools charge a fee if students are not picked up on time.

Volunteering

Each school has different rules. Parents may be asked to:

  • Volunteer in the classroom.
  • Chaperone at least one field trip during a school year.

Communication

  • Be sure to communicate with the school in a timely way.
  • If a teacher or administrator reaches out to you, they often expect a response within one business day.
  • Communication often is sent through a parent website.
  • Set aside at least 15 minutes each day to visit the website, review your child’s grades, and check for teacher comments.

Have additional questions about private schools?