Flexible Tuition Program
Starkville Academy is an independent college preparatory school for grades PreK-12. The Board of Directors recognizes that the school’s tuition represents a financial burden to some patrons and hopes that no mission-appropriate student would be denied an SA education solely because of financial reasons. To this end, we offer a tuition assistance program called the Flexible Tuition Program.
What is the Flexible Tuition Program?
The Flexible Tuition Program allows families to apply for reduced tuition. The school encourages families to apply if they think they may qualify for this program.
An application for exible tuition does not affect the admission process; the Flexible Tuition Committee operates separately from the Admissions Office.
The school is committed to protecting the privacy of its families. Therefore, all information received by the school is held in the strictest confidence.
How does the Flexible Tuition Program Work?
Starkville Academy uses information from School and Student Services (SSS) that is reported to the school as a starting point to calculate the exible tuition level. SSS is a service of the National Association of Independent Schools that is used by more than 2,100 schools and organizations across the country. It helps assess a family’s ability to pay for independent education and makes families feel confident that their requests for assistance are being evaluated objectively and professionally. Starkville Academy considers many factors that affect a family’s ability to pay, but it also must consider the resources available for the program in any given year. It is impossible for the school, or for a family, to determine the level of tuition for which they qualify unless the entire Parent Financial Statement (PFS) application is completed online at www.sssbynais.org/parents and submitted to SSS.
To reiterate, an application for flexible tuition does not affect a student’s admission selection. The Flexible Tuition Committee calculates flexible tuition per family and operates separately from the admissions process.
The school may not have the resources to offer exible tuition to every student who qualifies for both admission and a flexible tuition. A student may be admitted to the school but waitlisted for flexible tuition. In the event that funds become available for the current school year, the school will then notify each qualifying family.
Determining Flexible Tuition
The following information is used by SSS to determine the level of tuition that a family can afford to pay and helps Starkville Academy set flexible tuition.
Income means pre-tax earnings from wages, business investments, etc. The formula that determines a family’s ability to pay considers different expenses from those the IRS uses to calculate taxable income. Therefore, all tax schedules must be submitted. If parents reside in separate households, the income and expenses of both households are considered in the calculation.
If a family has major assets, savings or investments, the formula computes an income supplement that is added to the gross income. This income supplement varies, but usually net assets of $50,000 or less will have little impact on the computation. Home equity is based not on market value but on the price paid for the home and the years it has been owned. Generally, this will undervalue the equity. The income assumed to be generated by assets also takes into account parent age, leaving retirement savings intact. For most, but not all applicants, the additional income inferred from assets is a small factor. However, if the student has assets (savings, trust accounts, etc.), the formula includes them in calculating the amount the parents can pay.
Living allowance estimates are based on the number of people in a student’s household. Income is adjusted by expenditures for housing, food or medical needs to obtain the available discretionary income.
The formula for determining the parent contribution for educational expenses takes into account certain “unusual expenses,” such as care of an aging grandparent, parent educational loan payments, legal fees, closing costs and other expenses listed in the application instructions for the Flexible Tuition Program.
Other Discretionary Income
The formula expects a family to allocate only a portion of discretionary income to tuition payments.
Number of Independent School or College Tuitions Currently Being Supported
The ability to pay is divided by the number of family members at any elementary school, high school or college that charges tuition in order to determine the exible tuition rate for each student.
Divorced, Separated or Never Married Parents
Flexible tuition is based on the family’s ability to pay as demonstrated by the information submitted in the Parent Financial Statement. Both custodial and non-custodial parents (regardless of legal settlements) who are divorced, separated or have never married are required to submit the PFS. In exceptional cases where one parent cannot comply, the custodial parent should submit a written explanation. Lack of information from either parent may signi cantly a ect the exible tuition amount.
Frequently Asked Questions about the program
Is my family eligible for Flexible Tuition?
There is a broad spectrum of families who qualify, from those who can afford only partial tuition to those who can afford almost full tuition. A complex formula is used to calculate a family’s exact Flexible Tuition level and considers many factors that affect that family’s ability to pay. It is impossible for the school to determine the level of tuition for which a family may qualify unless the entire School & Student Services application is completed and all required documents are submitted to the school.
Does an application for Flexible Tuition affect a student’s chances of admission to the school?
A family’s financial need does not affect a student’s acceptance by the school. Flexible Tuition is determined separately.
When will a family learn if they have been offered Flexible Tuition?
Flexible Tuition Program notification will generally occur at various times through the spring semester of each school year. Applications for financial aid should begin by February 1 and be completed by March 1 of each year of enrollment. Responses to families will fall into one of three categories: an offer of Flexible Tuition; notification that the family does not qualify for Flexible Tuition; or notice that the family is waitlisted for Flexible Tuition. A waitlist designation means that a family will be considered for Flexible Tuition if additional funding becomes available.
Are Flexible Tuition decisions based on merit?
No, all Flexible Tuition decisions are based solely on demonstrated need.
If a student’s family participates in Flexible Tuition, does the student stay in the program until graduation?
Provided family circumstances remain the same and the school’s resources can continue to support the program to the same extent, the school intends to fund the student for the duration of the time here at SA. To continue in the program, the family must reapply each year.
In the case of parents/guardians who do not live together (e.g. divorced, separated, never married), do both households have to submit financial information?
Yes, each parent/guardian household must submit all required documents to both SSS and to Starkville Academy to be considered for Flexible Tuition. SA determines ability to pay by factoring in all available resources from both parents and stepparents, regardless of custody or other legal issues.
What if my family has unusual circumstances?
Please send us a supplemental letter if there is additional information that addresses your financial situation not taken into account by the SSS report or the supplemental information required by SA.