Independent Schools

The term Independent School is interchangeable with Private School. There may be some slight distinctions in governance between them. Such schools are funded by tuition, fund-raising, endowment income and entrepreneurial activity. Unlike public schools, they are not funded by tax dollars.

Types of Independent Schools

Most independent schools are comprised of grades Pre-K-8, K-8, or Pre K-12, or K- 12. Some, however, include younger children and end either in grade 4 or 5.

Single Sex Schools are schools that enroll girls or boys, not both.

Co-education Schools are schools that enroll both girls and boys.

International Schools are schools that cater to international populations by offering a dual language curriculum, many spoken languages and/or international baccalaureate program or studies.

Application Procedures and Admission Timelines

Independent schools, unlike public schools, are not compelled to admit students throughout the school year. Instead they ask applicant families to adhere to admission time tables and deadlines. Start early! The exploration of independent school options should begin at least a year prior to the date of the planned enrollment of your child. Applicant families should devote time to educating themselves broadly about independent school options during the spring or summer before that year.

Application Requirements for All Children:

  • Completed application

  • Standardized and specialized testing results

  • Teacher recommendations

  • Parent statement

  • Results from formal interview with your child

Application Requirements for Older Children:

  • Student writing sample

  • Student art work/portfolios (optional)

  • Transcript of grades

Admissions Events at New York City Area Independent Schools

Plan to visit open houses and expect to set aside time for the interview and touring process.

Independent School Admissions Timelines

Additional internet resources regarding the application process and timelines:

School Selection

Visiting and touring schools are important components of the school selection process. While much of your preparation is designed to give these schools information so they can select your child, never forget that you are also selecting the school. National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) suggests the following six considerations when you study school materials and visit.

  • Location: Proximity to your home is important if your child is to readily participate in after school activities such as sports or theatre.

  • Size: Note the size of the school as a whole, and class size. Evaluate the opportunities for enrichment and for leadership that the school promotes.

  • Educational Philosophy: How are classes taught? Is the school progressive or traditional? How are students assessed? How are expectations conveyed? How is the classroom organized?

  • Curriculum: Compare the scope and sequence of the curriculum with all the schools you visit. What is the intention behind the curricular choices and offering of the school?

  • Faculty: Examine the faculty list, often online, to see if faculty members are teaching in the disciplines in which they were trained. Ask about professional development and on-going education.

  • Facilities: How is the school maintained? Do the school's facilities accommodate your child's interests? For example, does the school have up-to-date computers, playing fields, musical practice rooms, and a theater?

Tuition and Financial Aid

Independent Schools make financial aid available because they hope to attract socioeconomic diversity among their students and families in the interest of providing a learning environment that exposes students to a wide range of views and life experiences. Nevertheless there is an expectation that families will finance their children's education to the extent that they are able.

  • Need-Based Award: Financial Aid applications are designed to determine a family's eligibility for a need-based award. Most Independent Schools use the Parent Financial Statement (PFS) provided by the School and Student Service for Financial Aid (SSS). This NAIS-owned service is the primary vehicle for determining the amount a family can pay.

  • Merit Awards: Some Independent Schools grant merit awards designated for students with exceptional academic, athletic or artistic talent. If you think your child has such talent, ask the schools where you are considering applying if they have merit-based awards.

  • Tuition Loan Programs or Tuition Payment Plans: These programs/plans are often available to assist families in paying partial or full tuition. Ask the financial aid officer or the admission director about these programs or plans.

  • Primary Tuition Scholarship:  If you are a full-time salaried officers of instruction, research, administration, or the library, or if you are a member of the United Doctors Association (UDA), tuition for your children or the children of your spouse or same sex domestic partner may be partially funded by the Primary Tuition Scholarship (PTS) program from kindergarten through eighth grade.

    Your children may be your biological or adopted child, or the natural or adopted children of your spouse or same-sex domestic partner.

    PTS pays varying percentages of school tuition, depending on your family income, as long as you and your children live within the five boroughs of New York City, and the school is within the five boroughs.

    Tuition is defined as the portion of the bill that covers the academic program. Other fees (e.g. for extra-curricular activities or materials) are not covered, even if the bill from the school combines them with "tuition."

    For information on eligibility and the PTS program, refer to Primary Tuition Scholarship (PTS) Benefit.  

Additional Internet Resources Regarding Financial Aid:

Diversity Resources and Opportunities

Early Steps, Inc. (212-288-9684), established by the Independent School Admission Association of Greater New York (ISAAGNY), is a resource for families of color interested in pursuing independent schooling whose children will enter kindergarten or first grade. The program assists parents of color through the application, admissions, and financial aid process.

Through a unique assessment model, A Better Chance refers academically talented students entering grades 6 through 11 to the nation's finest independent and public schools.

The Oliver Program selects highly motivated 7th grade students of African American and Latino descent in NYC and offers them the support and guidance they need to gain admission to some of the best independent schools.

Prep for Prep identifies New York City's promising students of color in 5th and 6th grade and prepares them for placement in independent schools in the city and boarding schools throughout the Northeast. There is also a PREP 9 program that places students of color in prominent boarding schools.

TEAK Fellowship identifies New York City students from low income families in 7th grade and above and helps them gain admission to and succeed at the top high schools.

Founded in 1984 by Brother Brian Carty, FSC, De La Salle Academy is a private, independent, non-sectarian middle school located in Manhattan. The school's student body includes youngsters from all five boroughs of New York City. De La Salle is the only private, independent school in New York City for academically talented, economically disadvantaged boys and girls in grades six through eight.

Following the tradition established by De La Salle Academy, but with a focus on boys, the George Jackson Academy enrolls bright boys from less advantaged families in grades 4-8.


Last Updated: 
01/17/17