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Admissions

Financial Aid

Tandem Friends School seeks students who will thrive in our unique educational environment, who will explore our school program to its fullest, and who will make a difference in the world when they graduate. Tandem Friends School strives to maintain a student body that represents a wide range of backgrounds, cultures, walks of life, and financial circumstances.
 
We appreciate that for most families, an independent school education represents a substantial financial commitment, one that requires prioritizing education over other expenses. To assist families with their educational goals, Tandem Friends makes adjustments to tuition if families complete the financial aid application and their unique financial circumstances fall within the qualifying range. These tuition adjustments make it possible for many families to enroll one or several children at our school.
 
Financial aid at Tandem Friends is funded by our operating budget. Every year, financial aid availability depends on several factors that include: our annual budget, our projected enrollment, the number of families applying for a financial aid tuition adjustment, and each family's unique financial circumstances. The Financial Aid Committee uses FAST, our financial aid assessment program, to take these elements into account and endeavors to equitably and objectively maximize each family's tuition adjustment while staying within our budget. While the amount of financial aid the school can provide is limited, we do our best to meet the needs of families who apply to the school and whose financial circumstances qualify them for a financial aid tuition adjustment as assessed by FAST.
 
Financial aid tuition adjustments are assessed annually and are need-based. Families seeking tuition reduction are asked to renew their financial information in their financial aid application each winter.
 
Receiving financial aid at TFS means a reduction in tuition a family pays for the year. This tuition reduction does not affect other school-related expenses. It does not mean a family receives an allocation of funds and it is not a loan that would need to be paid back. Families should also budget for additional school-related expenses such as the cost of personal school supplies, the cost of lunch (students may either bring or buy their own lunch), tutoring fees (if applicable), and AP test fees (if applicable).


Tandem Friends School does not discriminate based on race, color, sex, religion, sexual orientation or national ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, financial-aid programs, or athletic and other school-administered programs.

Tandem Friends School complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and will make reasonable accommodations for the known disability of an otherwise qualified student, unless undue hardship on the operation of the business would result.

Applying for Financial Aid

Families apply for aid online, through our partner at ISM FAST, based in Wilmington, DE. To begin an application, click the FAST icon below. The financial aid application fee (non-refundable), which is collected by FAST and is separate from Tandem’s enrollment application fee, is $45 ($48 as of 11/1/21), payable to FAST online by credit card.

NOTE:  Divorced or Separated Parents, please download the Parent User Guide, available in the link at the right of this page, which lists special procedures that apply to you. The financial aid application expects and requires that both parents participate in their child’s education, and will expect financial information to be reported from both families. Financial information submitted by one parent is not visible to the other parent.

Please contact FAST at 877-326-FAST (3278) with technical questions regarding the application process. For general questions about admissions or financial aid, please contact the Tandem Friends School Business Office at 434-296-1303.

When Forms are Due:
Priority deadline for both admissions and financial aid applications from new families is December 15th. Regular deadline for both admissions and financial aid applications from new families is January 15th. After January 15th, admissions and financial aid applications from new families are processed on a rolling basis.

As instructed by FAST, please submit your completed and signed 2020 Federal and State tax forms - including W-2's, 1099’s, and related schedules listed in the application. Applications will be considered incomplete without tax forms and supporting documentation.

For verification, families will also need to submit their 2021 tax forms to FAST when they have been completed and filed with the IRS (usually by April 15).  This will include signed tax forms - including W-2's, 1099’s, and related schedules listed on the application form. 

Financial Aid FAQs

List of 14 frequently asked questions.

  • Q: Is our child's admission to Tandem Friends based on my family's financial need?

    No. We do not require families to furnish financial information on the admissions application. Our admission process focuses solely on the applicant’s academic qualifications and the fit between the applicant and TFS. Financial aid grants are made through a separate process (FAST application process) after an admissions decision has been reached.   

    Generally speaking, however, before applying for admission at Tandem Friends, families should carefully consider how they will pay for their child’s education, and what they would do if financial aid is not forthcoming.
     
  • Q: If our child is accepted to Tandem Friends, does that mean that we will automatically receive financial aid?

    No. Financial aid grants are determined after the student is accepted.

    If you think you need financial aid, you should apply at the time you submit your admissions application. Admissions applications are read without regard for a family's ability to pay. It is possible that a student may be admitted and then the family either does not qualify for aid, or is placed on the financial aid waitlist.

    Keep in mind that, in fairness to all, Tandem Friends will not award any financial aid to a family who has not completed a financial aid application.
  • Q: Who decides whether we receive financial aid and how much?

    At the beginning of each year, as part of the annual budgeting process, the Board of Trustees establishes a budget for financial aid as part of operating budget. The Head of School then appoints a Financial Aid Committee (FAC) consisting of senior members of staff. Once the application process is open to returning and new families, the FAC begins reviewing all completed aid applications. Financial aid applications are confidential, and only the FAC is permitted access to the files.

    FAST does not make financial aid decisions or churn out a “correct” number for financial aid. The purpose of the FAST application is to require all families to submit a standardized application that allows the committee to compare “apples to apples,” so to speak. In determining whether to award a grant and what size grant to award, the FAC weighs all information supplied in the application, including each family’s unique circumstances as described in the family letter.
  • Q: Can my child qualify for an athletic or merit scholarship?

    No. Currently, Tandem Friends does not offer athletic or merit scholarships. All tuition discounts are based on demonstrated financial need.
  • Q: What are our chances of receiving financial aid?

    Parents often ask, “What is the income threshold for receiving aid?” The answer is that there isn't one. Every family has varying circumstances that affect its ability to pay for private education. These factors include family size, number of children attending tuition-charging schools, assets, and debts. If you think the cost to send your child to Tandem Friends School exceeds your ability to pay the tuition, then you should apply for financial aid. However, before applying for admission at Tandem Friends, families should carefully consider how they will pay for their child’s education, and what they would do if financial aid is not forthcoming.
  • Q: We have submitted a financial aid application. What are the possible outcomes?

    Financial Aid Offer - The Financial Aid Committee has determined that your family qualifies for financial aid and an offer is conveyed to the family.

    Financial Aid Wait List - Your family qualifies for financial aid as determined by the financial aid process; however, Tandem Friends does not have enough funds to meet the demonstrated need of all families who have applied for it at this time. While it is possible additional financial aid may become available in the spring, the family should carefully consider if they could afford to pay for all tuition and fees if eventually they are not awarded aid. Families should not commit to an enrollment contract without knowing first how they will pay for their child’s education.

    Do Not Qualify - Your family does not qualify for financial aid as determined by the financial aid needs assessment process and the Financial Aid Committee. The family is expected to pay full tuition and all fees.
  • Q: What is the importance of the application deadlines?

    Families completing an application for financial aid by the deadline will have their decisions reviewed in the priority pool.  Because the financial aid budget is limited, those families applying after the deadline may be on the financial aid wait list. Returning families who have received aid in the past are given preference. Families should keep in mind that the Financial Aid Committee will not review an application until it is complete.
  • Q: If we qualify for financial aid, will we receive a similar award in future years?

    Tandem Friends cannot guarantee multi-year awards. Families are required to complete the financial aid application every year they are requesting aid and the Financial Aid Committee makes a new assessment each year. Each year, the size of each grant will depend on several factors that include: the available operating budget (set annually by the Board of Trustees), projected enrollment, the financial aid applicant pool, and each family's unique circumstances. The Financial Aid Committee takes these elements into account and endeavors to fairly and objectively maximize each family's award while staying within budget.

    We realize, however, that families need to make long-term budgets in order to afford their child’s education at Tandem Friends, and we endeavor to award grants that don’t fluctuate wildly from year to year.
  • Q: What expenses does financial aid cover?

    Financial aid covers tuition only. If the family accepts the committee's decision, the award amount is deducted from the regular tuition. Please see the tuition page for more details.
  • Q: What about divorced or separated parents?

    Tandem Friends School expects that both separated or divorced parents will contribute to the cost of their child's education regardless of whether there is a legal obligation for them to do so. The financial aid process considers all resources that might be available to the student. If either parent remarries, the Financial Aid Committee will take into consideration the obligation of that parent to his/her new family and the resources of the step-parent, given the obligation of the stepparent to his/her own children. Therefore, both parent and stepparent must submit financial information to our office. Please be assured that the financial aid process is confidential, and that Tandem Friends does not share the financial information from one divorced or separated parent with the other.
  • Q: What should we do if our financial situation changes?

    Contact the Financial Aid Committee in writing to notify them of changes in your family's financial picture. Please send an explanation and documentation to the Director of Finance and Operations.
  • Q: Can we appeal our financial aid award?

    Yes. The Financial Aid Committee will consider appeals. Please compose a detailed letter explaining why you feel your award merits reconsideration. Send the letter and any relevant documentation to the Director of Finance and Operations.
  • Q: Who will have access to our financial information?

    All materials are kept confidential and are reviewed only by members of the Tandem Friends School Financial Aid Committee.
  • Q: Whom should we call if we have questions?

    Please contact FAST at (877) 326-FAST (3278) with technical questions regarding the application process. For general questions about admissions or financial aid, please contact Tandem Friends School at (434) 296-1303.