New benchmark set for financial aid

New benchmark set for financial aid

SVENA BHASIN
COPY EDITOR

With a tuition of £23,550 for each High School and Middle School student, socio-economic diversity is a long-term challenge for ASL. The Strategic Plan, written in 2010, outlines the school’s objectives regarding diversity. Under the third objective, desired outcomes include to “provide sufficient financial aid to broaden the potential for great socio-economic diversity at the school.”

When they wrote it in 2010, the Board of Trustees hoped to increase “our funding of financial aid to 8 percent of gross tuition revenue.” Two years later, the amount of financial aid remains to be 7.2 percent of tuition revenue.

The Diversity Statement, put forward by the Board of Trustees and published on the school website this fall, includes socio-economic level in their definition of diversity.
Chair of the Board of Trustees Lori Fields and Dean of Admissions Jodi Warren both said that diversity is important for excellence, in reference to the Strategic Plan. “The reason for having financial aid is to have socio-economic diversity, and diversity of all kinds is important for excellence. We want our students to be in a school that will somewhat reflect the experiences in the real world,” said Warren.

The financial aid program currently holds a budget of £1.1 million for 47 families at ASL, a total of 69 students.The full ;exfor Lower School students, not including extracurricular trips which offer the option to apply for financial aid to all students.

ASL is a part of an organisation titled the National Association of Independent Schools, or NAIS, based in the USA. The organisation runs a service called Student & School Services (SSS).
Applicants for financial aid input their financial information like income, taxes, and debt onto the online form. The service then evaluates that information through a formula and sends an estimate of the amount that the family can contribute to their child’s education to the school’s financial aid committee.

The financial aid committee adds a cost of living factor and decides on the amount that will be allocated to the family for the child’s tuition fee. “It’s a very objective and confidential process,” said Warren. “No one in the school, except for this administrative committee, knows who is getting financial aid.”

In the past couple of years, the budget of £1.1 million ha not been quite enough. “We’ve actually had a financial aid wait pool, so we’ve been having more people apply than we’ve had money available,” said Warren. ASL still has a long way to go before it meets the goal of increasing financial aid funding to the full 8 percent of tuition revenue. The process by which to do this has already been determined, and has been showing steady progress each year. “That’s a decision that the Board [of Trustees] has to make; ultimately the board approves the schools operating budget,” Warren said.

svena_bhasin@asl.org