Private high school is popular, with at least 1.5 million U.S. students getting a private secondary education in 2020. On average, private high school tuition costs $15,777 per year. It can skyrocket to rival undergraduate university costs if the private school has an excellent reputation, such as The Dalton School in New York.
Unlike student loans for college, families considering private secondary education don’t have federal financial aid options because the federal government already funds public K–12 schooling.
However, parents who want to invest in private education before their child goes to college have plenty of other options for student loans for private high school, including education loans and personal loans.
In this guide:
- Options for private high school student loans
- Alternatives to student loans for private high school
- How to apply for loans for private high school
Options for private high school student loans
Several options are available if you’re looking to take out student loans for private high school. An education loan is a go-to option to fund secondary education, often offering the most competitive terms. However, you must meet specific eligibility requirements to qualify.
A private loan may be the next-best alternative if your family can’t secure an education loan. They tend to have higher interest rates, but many private lenders are more flexible regarding eligibility and repayment plans on personal loans.
Depending on your financial situation and credit score, private school financial aid, grants, or scholarships may be available to further reduce or eliminate education expenses.
Education loans, aka K–12 tuition loans, can help you pay for a child’s early education costs. These often have simple applications and reasonable interest rates.
Most lenders agree to finance up to the total tuition costs of the chosen private school. The institution gets the approved private school tuition fee from the lender.
We’ve laid out two education loans in the table below so you can compare:
|Your Tuition Solution||Republic Finance|
|Loan limits||$1,000 – $50,000||Unspecified|
|Interest rates (APR)||3.99% – 30.99%||Will not exceed 35.99%|
|Repayment terms||24, 36, 48, 60, 72, or 84 months||12 – 60 months|
|Fees||No application fees||Not specified|
|Notable features||Most applicants get a decision in seconds, but the longest wait time is 2 hours.||Once approved, get funds in 1 – 2 business days.|
>>Read more: What student loans can be used for
Personal loans are another option for families looking to finance a private school education. The interest rates may be higher than education loans for borrowers with excellent credit.
However, you’ll have more personal loan lenders to choose from. Check out our guide to the best personal loans for more information on finding the right loan for you.
We researched three lenders’ personal loans:
|Loan limits||$5,000 – $100,000||Up to $50,000||$5,000 – $100,000|
|Interest rates||5.99% – 23.99% with autopay||7.96% – 35.97%||Fixed rates as low as 7.99% APR|
|Repayment terms||24 – 144 months||24 – 84 months||24 – 84 months|
|Fees||No fees||1.85% to 8.99% origination fee||No fees required|
|Prepayment penalties apply?||No||No||No|
|Anything unique||Some of the lowest rates in the industry||Flexibility and customization||Same-day funding|
Alternatives to student loans for private high school
If your family can’t afford private school tuition out-of-pocket, you may be eligible for alternative funding options.
Consider those listed below before taking out education or personal loans, as several don’t require repayment.
While the national government doesn’t provide federal student loans for private high school, several states offer funding to help families cover the expense of private education.
Qualified students in 14 states and the District of Columbia may use these government vouchers. Eligibility for vouchers varies from state to state, but families must often meet specific income requirements or have a child with special needs.
Follow the links below to find out more about each state’s program:
- District of Columbia
- North Carolina
School financial aid
Many private schools will provide financial aid if your family can’t cover the total cost of tuition. Eligibility varies depending on the school, so it’s important to research available options at the school you’re considering.
Tuition payment plans
Schools often offer tuition payment plans, allowing families to spread out tuition costs over several months. These can include monthly payments, extended payment options, and even interest-free plans that make affording private school more manageable.
Special scholarships and grants are available to help students cover education costs. These are often merit-based awards, based on skill or ability, that can be applied to the cost of tuition or fees.
Local businesses, churches, community organizations, and other associations raise money for scholarships each year. By applying for scholarships, your student could earn money toward their private high school tuition.
Coverdell Education Savings Account
You can plan for private K-12 school costs by saving in a Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA). Contributions aren’t tax-exempt, but when it comes time to pay for school, disbursements are tax-free as long as they don’t exceed your child’s eligible education expenses.
Qualified education expenses include tuition, fees, books, computer technology, tutoring, and special needs services.
A 529 plan is another tax-advantaged education savings vehicle to help families save for future educational expenses. Borrowers can use these plans for private high school tuition or college-level programs. However, a withdrawal limit of $10,000 per year, per student, applies to private high school tuition and earlier education.
529 plans have higher contribution limits and less strict eligibility requirements than Coverdell ESAs. You won’t pay federal income tax on withdrawals for qualified education expenses, and several states offer additional tax benefits on contributions and withdrawals.
You can’t deduct private school tuition on your federal tax return. Still, you can take deductions or credits on state returns depending on the 529 plan and whether it’s state-sponsored.
Below are several states with a participating state 529 plan that allow credits or deductions. This list is not inclusive, so check with your state’s offerings.
- South Carolina
Talk to a tax professional to understand how to take advantage of these savings.
Talk to your private school about other available financial assistance options. They may be able to help you find a way to cover the cost of tuition without taking out a loan or depleting your savings.
How to apply for loans for private high school
If you’ve decided getting student loans for private high school makes sense for your family, it’s time to shop around. When searching for loans, research multiple lenders for the best terms and competitive interest rates.
Most lenders require prequalification, so you can see the rates and terms available based on your credit score and other factors. Prequalification is often a “soft” credit check, which won’t affect your credit score.
Favorable terms and interest rates can save you significant money over the life of the loan, so it’s worth the time it takes to explore your options. This includes considering education loans and private loans.
When to apply
When to apply depends on how much time the lender needs to review your application and finalize loan approval. Most lenders will approve you within a few days (some in a matter of seconds). However, applying right before the school year starts may be more stressful than necessary, so you can apply earlier.
Many parents apply months before their child begins high school, often over the summer. You can apply for student loans for private high school as soon as your child is accepted and you’ve made your deposit.
Remember: For personal loans, you must start making payments as soon as you receive the lump sum, even if your child’s tuition payment isn’t yet due or the semester hasn’t started.
You can choose to cover the estimated cost of four years of tuition at once. However, if tuition costs vary, you might choose to apply before each school year. If the tuition cost for four years exceeds the maximum you can borrow for a personal loan, you may need to take out new loans before each school year.
How to decide between loans
When you get prequalified for multiple loans, weigh each option’s benefits and drawbacks. Different lenders likely have varying terms, so comparing interest rates, fees, and terms is helpful.
Consider the following:
- Interest rate: Your interest rate will often depend on your creditworthiness and loan term, how many months you’ll spend paying off the loan. Shorter loan terms tend to offer lower interest rates.
- Fees and penalties: Some lenders charge an origination fee when you get a loan, often at a percentage of the loan total. This can cost you hundreds of dollars, so it’s essential to be aware of the fees upfront. You’ll also want to find out if you’re charged a penalty for paying off your loan faster than the original loan term.
- Secured vs. unsecured: Secured loans require you to use an asset as collateral, such as your house, which the lender can seize if you default on your payments. Unsecured loans don’t require collateral but depend more heavily on your credit score and history for approval.
What you need to apply
Most private loan lenders require borrowers to be 18 years old, have enough income to support loan repayment, and possess a credit history that meets its criteria.
If you’re seeking low interest rates, it’s best to have a good or excellent credit score.
Plan to provide the following documentation:
- Identification, such as a driver’s license or passport
- Personal contact information, including address and email
- Proof of citizenship or resident alien status
- Proof of income, such as a pay stub
- Proof of assets (i.e., house or investments) for secured loans
- Information about the purpose of your loan (such as a school tuition statement)
Private high schools can put a dent in your wallet. Many lenders offer student loan options for parents to pay for private high school tuition and fees.
These loans provide families with an opportunity to afford a quality education.