Tuition & Financial Aid

Financial Aid

How to Apply for Financial Aid

Applying for financial aid
All financial aid is awarded on the basis of demonstrated need.  To apply for financial aid follow the steps below or download the FA Application Instructions (see link in right sidebar) for a more detailed description.
  • Complete the Parents' Financial Statement (PFS) online or on paper, and submit it to the School and Student Service by NAIS (SSS).  These forms are updated each year and are available in late Fall.  Visit to access the PFS.
  • Submit the following additional paperwork to SSS:
    • copy of 2018 Federal Tax return and all applicable schedules
    • copy of 2018 W2
    • copy of 2019 Federal Tax return and all applicable schedules (when complete)
    • copy of 2019 W2 (when available)
    • signed IRS form 4506-T (without the fee)
    • Afterschool Worksheet* (candidates applying to Beginners through Grade 5, please complete whether or not you anticipate needing this program)

All Financial Aid paperwork must be submitted by February 1.  Since the PFS takes some time to process, we suggest submitting it in mid-January.
*We realize that many families will not have completed 2019 taxes by the February 1 deadline. If that is the case, submit the 2018 paperwork and your 2019 W2s, and send in the 2019 taxes as soon as they are completed. If a Financial Aid award is granted in this case, it is done so contingent upon our receipt of your 2019 tax return.

Financial Aid FAQs

List of 13 frequently asked questions.

  • What is financial aid?

    Financial aid is a grant that bridges the gap between a family's demonstrated financial need and the tuition and fees required to enroll at Shady Hill School.
  • What does a financial aid award cover? What does it not cover?

    Shady Hill has an inclusive tuition model: we do not separate out tuition from books, supplies, field trip fees, etc. If tuition is $30,000 and you receive a 50% financial aid grant, you will pay $15,000 for the school year.

    When all parents in a household are working and the family receives a financial aid award for tuition, we aim to cover Extended Day and Afterschool expenses as well. To use the example above, if our evaluation is that a family can pay $15,000 for the year for this child's education, the family would be responsible for $15,000, even if Afterschool fees brought the total cost from $30,000 to $45,000.

    There are two important exceptions to keep in mind: tutoring and bus transportation. Students on financial aid who require individual tutoring through our Learning Resources Department are billed a reduced rate. Students on financial aid who choose to ride the school bus are also billed a reduced rate, reflecting the same percentage of tuition discount.
  • Who can apply for Financial Aid?

    Anyone can apply for financial aid. However, if a family enrolls at Shady Hill School without a financial aid grant, they are not eligible for aid in future years unless there is a demonstrated significant shift in the family's financial picture.
  • Will applying for aid affect my child's chances for admission?

    Our admission committees are need-blind. That means that student files are read and evaluated without regard for a family's ability to pay tuition.

    Financial aid materials are reviewed only after a candidate has been endorsed by the admission committee. At that point, we consider our available aid dollars relative to the needs of the applicant pool, and do our best to distribute the funds fairly. (For example, we wouldn't put our entire FA budget into one particular class.)
  • Do we need to re-apply every year?

    Financial aid grants are awarded annually and applications must be re-submitted each year. This allows us to review any shift in circumstance and be sure that we are continuing to meet your family's need.

  • Based on our income, how much can we expect to pay in tuition?

    Because of the many factors considered when determining financial need, it's impossible for us to ballpark a figure without doing a complete financial aid application review. However, when you complete a financial aid application, you have access (within 24 hours!) to the Family Report -- which is the same information that schools see. This allows you to see the same numbers sent to schools, and to have an idea of the size award for which you would qualify.
  • We think we could probably pay tuition for the first year or two, but would need aid after that -- OR -- we suspect we make too much money to qualify for financial aid. Is financial aid reserved only for families with a very low income?

    These are the most common questions we hear each year. Please keep the following in mind:

    • Financial aid grants vary widely in size. We recognize the range of socioeconomic status in any community and are determined not to "squeeze out" middle-income families.
    • A student who enters without financial aid is expected to continue without financial aid for the duration of their enrollment, unless there is a significant demonstrated shift in financial circumstance. These shifts are usually unexpected job losses, medical events, etc. - in which case the School will do its best to meet the family's need. If you anticipate that full tuition is or will be a stretch for your family, please apply for financial aid as early as possible - as this helps us plan accordingly.
  • What if I am a single parent - or the parent primarily responsible for paying tuition?

    We require complete financial aid applications (PFS and 2 years of tax returns) from custodial, non-custodial, and step parents. This information helps us to determine the ability of each parent to financially support the child's education. While ability to pay and willingness to pay are not always the same, we believe that the primary responsibility for paying for school begins with the student's parents.

    If the whereabouts of a non-custodial parent are unknown or if that parent is not in contact with the child, we will request a letter from a third party (such as the current school, a member of the clergy, etc.) verifying the situation.

    As most schools in our area adhere to this practice; it will strengthen your application (and speed up our review process!) if you can encourage a non-custodial parent to submit materials by the deadline.
  • What factors are considered when determining need?

    There are many factors to be considered. These include taxable and nontaxable incomes of both parents, assets that a family holds, the number of dependents, the number of children in tuition charging schools, and the age of the parents.
  • My child has savings set aside for college education. Is this money protected?

    Trust funds and other savings plans can be considered a piece of what your family can be expected to contribute. However, we look at your long term educational obligations: so if you are applying for financial aid for a Beginner (who has 18 years of school on the horizon), we would expect that 1/18th of the trust fund could go toward his first year at Shady Hill.
  • How are financial aid awards determined?

    All awards are granted on the basis of demonstrated need. To determine need, we use the School and Student Service for Financial Aid (SSS) which is a service of the National Association of Independent Schools. Many schools in our area use this same service, so families who are applying to several schools need only send one form to SSS. An applicant family must submit a Parents' Financial Statement (PFS) either by mail or online to SSS, which includes information about income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. The PFS goes directly to SSS, who computes the information and determines an estimate of what a family can be expected to contribute toward an independent school education. The difference between this amount and a student's anticipated tuition and fees is the amount of demonstrated need. We do our best to meet this need.
  • Does the school offer merit scholarships?

    No. All financial aid is offered on the basis of demonstrated need.
  • How do I get an application for Financial Aid?

    See the sidebar on the right side of this page for links to all necessary forms.

Financial Aid Forms

  • Financial Aid Application Instructions
    All information, including necessary forms, are available at  The Parents' Financial Statement (PFS) is best completed online, and supporting documents can be uploaded directly through the site.
  • Form 4506-T
    Please print, sign, and scan the attached document; then upload to your account via SSS.  There is no need to submit a fee.
  • Afterschool Worksheet
    All applicants to Beginners through Grade 5: please print, complete and return the applicable page in this document whether or not you anticipate a need for Extended Day / Afterschool coverage. Families applying multiple children should complete and return a form for each applicant.
  • NAIS Family Guide to Financial Aid
    This booklet, published by NAIS, provides a thorough examination of financial aid at independent schools. Questions about eligibility and the application process are addressed, as well as guiding principles.
617.520.5260        178 Coolidge Hill    Cambridge MA 02138