Public and charter Montessori schools are on the rise in the United States—and public education is free. But currently most Montessori education, at least in the U.S., is provided in private schools. While tuition can vary widely depending on geographic location, age of the student, hours the student is at school, and other factors, even at the lower end it may be more than a family is able to afford. If this applies to you, take heart: Many private Montessori schools offer tuition assistance; you may also be able to find outside sources that can help.
Don’t be afraid to ask about a school’s financial aid opportunities. It is one of the most common questions parents ask of private-school administrators. And, if your child is already enrolled in school and your financial circumstances change mid-year, don’t hold back about talking about that, either.
Finally, be sure to ask if the school administrative team knows of funding opportunities in addition to those described below, such as scholarships offered by community partnership programs or other sources. The more you ask, the more you will learn.
In an effort to make their programs accessible and affordable to families and sustain their commitment to socioeconomic diversity and inclusion, many private Montessori schools offer financial aid for families in need.
Because they operate independently from one another, schools offering financial aid set their own business practices—including how to determine financial-aid eligibility. Some require families to go through an application process developed internally. Others look to financial-aid analysis services provided by external sources. Factors that may be considered may include net worth, debt, commitment to staying at the school, and number of children (among others). An application fee may apply.
Some schools offer reduced tuition when parents enroll more than one child and/or offer discounts for children of staff. So if you’ve been thinking that a career in Montessori education is for you, this might just be another reason to follow your dream and pursue the training to become a Montessori teacher!
If you live in a state with a school voucher program, you may be able to make use of it to help fund your child’s tuition in a private Montessori school. In essence, vouchers reimburse you for monies the state would have otherwise spent to educate your child in a public school.
Participation in a state’s voucher program is at a school’s discretion, and the money provided does not necessarily cover the full cost of tuition. In addition, there are different kinds of voucher programs and varied requirements for eligibility of participating schools and students. Be sure to have your questions ready when researching the school(s) of your choice.
You can learn more about school vouchers—including whether or not they are offered in your state—on the National Conference of State Legislatures website.
Some states offer individual tax credits and deductions for private-school tuition. These programs reimburse you for at least a portion of what you spend. The programs differ by state, with some of these credits and deductions offering more savings than others. Eligibility restrictions apply. To learn more about tax-credit programs, visit the website of EdChoice, an American education reform organization.
Some states may provide funding through education savings accounts. ESAs allow you to withdraw your child from public or charter schools and receive a deposit of public funds into government-authorized savings accounts that have restricted, but multiple, uses, including for private school tuition and fees. Eligibility restrictions apply.
In 2018, 529 Savings Accounts, previously limited to savings for college tuitions, were expanded to cover K–12 expenses, including private school tuition. Up to $10,000 can be distributed annually to pay for the cost of sending your child to a public or private elementary or secondary school—including Montessori schools.
If you have a child with special needs who has an Individualized Education Program (IEP), the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act mandates that your district provide her with free, appropriate public education. However, if your local public school does not meet her learning requirements, you may be eligible for financial aid that would enable her to attend a private (Montessori) school, at the school district’s expense, if her IEP team determines that it would better serve her needs.
If this determination is not met, and your child attends private school regardless, the district must still pay for support services that are mandated by her IEP. For example, if the IEP says that your child must have one hour of speech therapy a week, the district must provide that at no cost to you—even if it means transporting her from the private school to a public school to receive the service.
For more information about students with special needs and your school district’s responsibilities, visit your state’s Department of Education website.