Private schools that used to offer financial aid typically limited that assistance to low or moderate-income families, but fewer schools are able to do so now
In the past, parents with low to moderate incomes, whose children attended private schools were able to rely on schools' financial aid programs to help fund tuition and other school-related expenses. With the recession of the past few years, fewer schools have the financial resources to be able to help as many students (and in to the same amount) as they once could without cutting into other programs or resources. According to the Department of Education, declining school enrollments have hurt the operating budgets of schools. In Washington State for example, private school enrollments have dropped as much as 15 percent over the previous year alone - with more parents requesting financial aid than ever. This is true of private schools all across the nation. With tuition costing from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands per year, depending on the type of school and its programs, requests for financial aid have risen sharply.
A spokeswoman for the National Association of Independent Schools in Washington, D.C. commented that schools are cutting back on spending elsewhere in order to help parents who have lost their jobs to cover costs.
The U.S. Department of Education estimates private school enrollment declined by 3% the years between 2006 and 2010, reducing the amount of funds that schools have available for operating costs - let alone budgeting extra for student financial aid programs. Even schools that have significant investments or enjoy the benefits of an endowment have seen the income from investment portfolios drop. With the recession already adversely affecting families, schools have been hesitant to offset declining enrollments and reduced income from investments by raising tuition on already heavily-burdened parents.
A study by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) in 2003 showed that 1 in 5 parents of students in private schools were paying for tuition and expenses by using some form of credit - typically personal or signature loans, home equity loans or credit cards.