Applewild announces affordability initiative

FITCHBURG, Mass. – Applewild School Head Christopher Williamson and Board President William E. Aubuchon IV have announced an Affordability Initiative, which provides financial aid for a greater number of families.

The K-8 independent school serves families from thirty-one towns in central Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. Applewild purposefully maintains low tuition levels compared to peer schools in the region to help address affordability.

Thanks to a donor who is partnering with the school, Applewild is taking the lead in refining the formula by which financial aid is awarded. The purpose is to develop a new, systematic methodology to address what has increasingly become an issue that all independent schools in the country are wrestling with – cost as an impediment to middle-income families. The goal is to maintain a consistent approach to qualifying for aid, while expanding the methodology to include families that the traditional approach leaves out.

The National Association of Independent Schools and the regional group, Association of Independent Schools in New England, have been encouraging independent schools to look at affordability for a few years, and the recession of 2008 and its aftermath have brought the topic to the forefront.

Polls by both NAIS and AISNE demonstrate that parents value the high quality, individual attention and core values of independent education. At the same time, however, cost is a significant concern for many people, particularly those whose incomes may be too high to qualify for traditional aid but not high enough to realistically enable them to afford the full cost of independent education.

“Affordability is an issue for all independent schools. NAIS reports that over the last 10 years, the number of families with incomes of $150,000 or more filing for financial aid has more than tripled,” Aubuchon said. “The problem is that with traditional NAIS methodology, these families do not often qualify for any help. We believe this traditional methodology is outmoded. The reality is that a high quality independent education stretches most families, not just those with high need. We are fortunate to have a donor partnering with us to help Applewild take a leadership role on affordability.”

The school will retain its AppleCore Merit scholarships, available to new students entering grades four through seven. There are also limited Early Childhood scholarships available for children entering grade two next year. Applewild will also maintain the existing School and Student Services by NAIS methodology that is used throughout the country by independent schools for determining financial aid. The school strives to address the concerns of families for whom current full tuition is an impediment while providing an equitable approach for all families.

The school encourages those who are interested to find out about the new initiative. Families should contact Emily Bracchitta in the Admission Office at 978-342-6053, ext. 110. Applewild School is a K-8 coeducational independent day school serving families in central Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire since 1957.

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