Paying for private school in the DMV area

Tips and tricks for sending your child to private school for Washingtonians

Category: Resources

The power of focus

When reading about how great achievers succeeded in sports, finance, philanthropy or skateboarding it is hard for me not to notice all the things they did to do so well.

What is often over looked is what they didn’t do – what they left out to make space and time for them to focus on their big thing.

It Is Not About the Money

To be clear this isn’t entirely about money. Instead it is about focusing your limited energy and time on the few things that matter. For you that might be religion, family, community, service, education and health. Or it might be skateboarding. Or languages. Or dogs.

Top Dog Inc.

As way of an example, lets say your thing is dogs. You decide to start a dog walking service. You love it. And to ensure you keep getting to meet interesting dogs and their people you want to be good at it. Plus it is even more fun to be appreciated by both the dogs and the people.

So you make up shirts, hats and take out snappy advertisements. Sure you make less money doing this but what a great service you offer. And, as is often, is the case, your focus might make you one of the “top dogs” in the dog walking offerings in your area.

If you need more money you can franchise out to nearby areas and hire a few folks. That way others can participate and it ensures that a lot of your time is in the dog walking business and that the work is enough to the pay the bills.

For example, in the context of paying for tuition does camping instead of a giant beach house vacation makes sense. And so does keeping an older car.

Deciding What Not To Do Makes Space

Only through focus and deciding to let other things go can you make space. A month long trip during the holidays isn’t going to happen as the reliable dog walker – folks depend on you when they are traveling. And if it the focus is too much and no longer rewarding you can always change your focus. Just don’t keep all the things you ever did going around.

The Gas Station Emporium Case Study

Years ago we lived in the county. And by county I mean more-horses-than-people-power-outages-for-a-week-at-a-time-they-have-bears kind of county.

Our small town next to our really small town had a gas station. And this gas station was also a repair shop. And it sold trinkets. And it ran a pancake shop out of one of the cinderblock sheds.

The gas station/pancake shop was ok at each but not great at anything. I was always worried there would be a motor oil and vegetable oil mix up one day.

So when a new gas station opened two towns over – one that was open past dusk (they had lights – it was glorious!), they lost business. And when a pizza joint arrived just over the mountains they did very well. And our local gas staton lost business.

It is still there and still open but how much fun can it be to run a place that is often empty and mostly visited by folks who don’t want the hassle of going to the good place? I would imagine not fun. And not all that profitable either.

You Can’t Do All The Things

You can’t do all the things. You can, however, do some of things well.

Determine your focus and narrowing your working hours on the focus areas will help you move forward in your current endeavor.

The hard part, of course, is figuring out what to focus on and what to leave aside. Only you can determine what that is for you but realize you can always can change your focus. What you can’t do is all the things.

Five ways to cut college tuition costs by a third in the DC area

In the DMV we are lucky to have a number of education options available. Did you know there are also ways to reduce tuition costs? Here are five ways to cut college tuition costs by a third or more.

  1. Many people we know spend the first two years of school at community colleges and then transfer to their desired school for the final two years of study. For example, Montgomery College has a tuition of $5000 a year. The University of Maryland is $12,000 a year, ($20,000 if you live there). So you can either pay $80,000 for a four year degree from UMD… or $50,000, for the exact same degree by first completing your core credits at a local community college. That move save you $30,000 on tuition costs.
  2. And many companies in the DC area will pay for your tuition. The MITRE Corporate , with offices in McLean, Virginia, will cover $28,000 of your studies. Assuming your student picks up a graduate degree at night over three years at one of these employers that is another $84,000 in tuition assistance. And you get to apply what you learn right away.
  3. Also, DC residents should learn about the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant program which grants up to $50,000 in benefits.
  4. Stay close to home. UVA’s in state tuition is around $20,000 a year. Out of state? Almost $50,000 a year. Save your family $120,000 by selecting avoiding a school that requires a trip on the beltway to get there.
  5. Finally, many colleges offer a discount to children of employees. For example, here is the 50% of tuition remission offered to University of Maryland Employees. That is $24,000 in tuition assistance right there.

Combining these steps can make tuition more affordable for both private and public colleges (and some high schools). These five options total $308,000 in tuition assistance with no scholarships. This will save you from having to earn almost $400,000 in income to pay for the stuff.

Education is a high priority in the DC area given the nature of the work here. Area institutions, governments and employers recognize and support this if you take the steps to apply for the benefits.

Doing your research

You have decided to send your child to a private school! Good for you! And good for your children and the broader community!

However, in doing so you suddenly switch from a mindset of a exploring a single school system to lots of choices. You soon realize you aren’t selecting a school. Instead you are starting a two way conversation about joining a community.

It can be overwhelming and you don’t want to start from scratch. The good news is there are many information sources out there to help you out.

The leader in our area, the DC School Hub, provides families in and near the national’s capital with information daycare, nursery school, preschool and independent and private schools.

What is wonderful about this resource is the variety of perspectives. They include descriptions of the areas schools, messages from the heads of

DC School Hub schools and detailed stories written by parents *for* parents describing their children’s experience. In about ten minutes of reading you can learn from decades of real experience.

They even list  who has spots open for new students.

Look around for something similar in your area. Even if there isn’t one, reading through the DC School Hub will provide a framework for the kinds of questions you should be thinking about when selecting a private school for your child.

The key take away here is you want the variety of perspectives – the head of school, teachers, parents and the students. That depth of information is too much to gather and absorb during a school’s open house so a site is a valuable resource. In addition to visiting the school, read the information on these sites and ask neighbors, colleagues and family members about the schools you think might be a match. We were very surprised to learn that someone we know quite well was both a teacher and a board of trustees member at our child’s school and had all kinds of helpful tips for us.

The worst you will get by asking around is a shrug or a lecture on why all children should attend their local public school or advice on how to better spend your money. And hear them out – that is information for you to consider as well.