Financial Aid FAQs

How much financial aid will my family receive?

How much financial aid will my family receive?

The comprehensive financial aid applications take into account the income, assets, and debts of families, as well as their family sizes and costs of living. We aim to have a well-rounded understanding of your family’s current financial situation. Each school may use their own formulas and professional judgment to come up with a unique financial aid award for your family. We cannot accurately predict exactly how much financial aid a family will receive before we review all of the required information. Families are notified about their financial aid awards along with their enrollment contracts.

There is no income cutoff for families receiving financial aid, though generally families with lower incomes are more likely to qualify for more financial aid than those with higher incomes. The financial aid application process takes into account many aspects of a family’s finances including expenses, assets, and debts in addition to income.

How does financial aid affect the admission process?

How does financial aid affect the admission process?

The admission and financial aid decisions are made separately from one another. Financial aid decisions are only made after a student has met the criteria for admission. If your child is admitted, you will receive information about your financial aid application along with your acceptance letter. 

When will we find out if we will receive a financial aid grant from Riverdale?

When will we find out if we will receive a financial aid grant from Riverdale?

Families applying for admission typically receive information about their financial aid status along with their admission notification. Current families typically receive information about their financial aid status along with their reenrollment contracts in February.

Can we apply for financial aid after we are admitted?

Can we apply for financial aid after we are admitted?

Families should apply for financial aid at the same time they apply for admission. Families who turn in late applications may not receive financial aid. Families who experience a significant change in financial circumstances during the admission season should call the Financial Aid Office immediately to discuss their options.

If we receive financial aid, are we guaranteed to continue receiving it?

If we receive financial aid, are we guaranteed to continue receiving it?

Financial aid is not necessarily automatically renewed from year to year. We ask families receiving financial aid to fill out a new application every year, and grants are allocated only on an annual basis. Generally, families who receive financial aid in one year will continue to do so in the next and the years thereafter. Occasionally, changes in a family’s circumstances may indicate that they no longer qualify for financial aid. This is often accompanied by a significant change in income.

If we do not need financial aid when we enroll, but our situation changes in future years, can we apply for financial aid?

If we do not need financial aid when we enroll, but our situation changes in future years, can we apply for financial aid?

Families who believe that they will need financial aid should apply for it when they initially apply for admission. We cannot always allocate financial aid to families who recently joined the school community, even if their financial aid application indicates that they have financial need. Occasionally, enrolled families encounter unexpected hardships, such as unemployment, and find themselves seeking financial aid. In such cases, we require families to have a conversation with the Director of Financial Aid, to submit three years of tax returns, and to write a letter to the financial aid committee outlining the recent financial change.

What do we do if we are not offered enough financial aid?

What do we do if we are not offered enough financial aid?

The financial aid application process is comprehensive, and we try to take into account the nuances of each family’s situation. Still, occasionally a family may feel that they have not been offered a large enough grant. In some situations, a change in the family’s circumstances may lead them to need a larger grant. In such situations, we highly recommend that families have a conversation with the Director of Financial Aid upon receipt of the financial aid award, or as soon as possible. Together with the Director, the family can decide if they would like to appeal their financial aid decision.

To file a formal appeal, the family writes a letter to the financial aid committee outlining the reason why they are appealing. Common reasons to appeal are changes in the financial situation, such as a job loss, correcting mistakes in the financial aid application, and updating the committee on an unexpected expense, such as medical bills. While the committee will review an appeal at any time, additional monies are most likely to be granted in the spring preceding the school year.

What do we do if we missed the financial aid application deadline?

What do we do if we missed the financial aid application deadline?

The financial aid application deadline for prospective families for the 2018-2019 school year is December 15, 2017. The deadline for current families is
December 1, 2017. If you miss the deadline and believe that you require financial aid, please e-mail the Financial Aid Office immediately to let us know that you are applying late for financial aid and any additional information about why you have decided to apply after the deadline. Then, complete the TADS application online as soon as possible. Please be aware that we may consider applications that come in late only after those that met the original deadline.

If the student’s parents are divorced, separated, or were never married, who must submit financial information?

If the student's parents are divorced, separated, or were never married, who must submit financial information?

We strongly believe that parents bear the responsibility to pay for tuition for their children’s education and that financial aid should be made available only when a family’s resources are not adequate to cover the total cost of education. To ensure that we have an understanding of the student’s full support system, we require financial information from all of the student’s biological or legal parents and their spouses or partners. This policy is similar to those found at many other independent schools and colleges.

In situations where a child’s parents live in different households, we ask that each household fill out their own TADS application including information about income and expenses as well as other dependents in the households. Parents applying for financial aid at Riverdale will be prompted to answer questions about the family situation in the TADS application online. In certain rare circumstances, we can waive the requirement for information from both parents. Families are welcome to bring further questions about this policy to the Financial Aid Workshop or to contact the Financial Aid Office.

What percentage of students receive financial aid at Riverdale? What is the financial aid budget?

What percentage of students receive financial aid at Riverdale? What is the financial aid budget?

For the 2017-2018 school year, Riverdale has allocated nearly $9 million in financial aid. These funds support tuition for the approximately twenty percent of the student body who receive financial aid and provide an “Extra Fund” to support the co-curricular expenses beyond books, lunch, and required activities, which are all included in the total educational costs.  

Is financial aid available for co-curricular programs?

Is financial aid available for co-curricular programs?

It is important to us that all students can have the full Riverdale experience. As such, Riverdale has a robust budget from which we offer financial aid towards our co-curricular programs. This funding supports many activities including, but not limited to, our Riveredge and Knowmad offerings and the international and domestic trips that support our academic, athletic, and service learning programs. We ask that current Riverdale families requesting aid for co-curricular offerings e-mail Sheila Hicks-Rotella, Director of Financial Aid.

What does a typical family receiving financial aid at Riverdale look like?

What does a typical family receiving financial aid at Riverdale look like?

There is no typical family receiving financial aid at Riverdale. Families of all sizes and many income levels apply for and receive financial aid. Our families receiving financial aid live all over the New York City area and come from a variety of backgrounds. They include parents who work in many different professions and children who contribute to the Riverdale community in different ways at all grade levels from Pre-Kindergarten through grade 12.

Does Riverdale offer merit scholarships for talented students?

Does Riverdale offer merit scholarships for talented students?

Riverdale does not offer scholarships based solely on merit. All of our students have many merits and show great potential. We allocate our need-based financial aid only to families who demonstrate a financial need for tuition assistance. Generous support for our financial aid program offers named scholarships to students who demonstrate need and who have various other characteristics such as being the child of a civil servant, or enjoying jazz music. Named scholarships are only offered to students qualified to receive need-based financial aid.

What resources are available to help our family afford a Riverdale education?

What resources are available to help our family afford a Riverdale education?

Beyond financial aid grants, many families choose to opt into the quarterly or monthly payment tuition plans. Families send in an initial enrollment deposit and spread out the rest of the tuition cost over the year. This plan is available for families receiving financial aid and for those who are paying full tuition. Some families choose to take advantage of K-12 educational loans. We are happy to have a conversation about your options and refer you to reputable lenders. We advise that families think carefully about financing tuition with loans.

What expenses should we expect beyond tuition?

What expenses should we expect beyond tuition?

The total educational cost at Riverdale includes tuition, lunch, books, and all required activities. It does not include after-school care for Lower School students or transportation for many students. Families should budget for these additional costs. Additional funds are available to cover a portion of some incidental and co-curricular costs for students who are receiving financial aid. 

Will everyone know that our family receives financial aid?

Will everyone know that our family receives financial aid?

Information about who is receiving financial aid is kept confidential and not shared with the community. All information that becomes part of a family’s financial aid application is used only to determine the family’s financial need. Many families feel that sharing their status with trusted individuals, such as their dean, teacher, or college counselor, can allow those people to better support the family’s experience at the school.

Do students receiving financial aid have different expectations than students who do not receive financial aid?

Do students receiving financial aid have different expectations than students who do not receive financial aid?

We believe that students receiving financial aid should be held to the same high standards and hopes that we have for all of our students. In this way, we adhere to the National Association of Independent School’s Principles of Good Practice for Financial Aid Administration. 

How can my family support the financial aid program?

How can my family support the financial aid program?

There are many ways that families can support the financial aid program at Riverdale. Some families choose to donate towards financial aid and even create their own named scholarship. You are welcome to contact the Development Office about options for making a gift.

Financial Aid Videos

Sheila Hicks-Rotella

Sheila Hicks-Rotella explains the financial aid process in these
how-to videos.

Learn More

If you have questions about the financial aid program or application process, please contact:

Sheila Hicks-Rotella
Director of Financial Aid
financialaid@riverdale.edu

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