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Financial Aid Policy

Mount Saint Joseph Academy (MSJA) believes that qualified students who desire an education should not be denied that opportunity because of economic hardship. Thus, we are proud to offer financial aid (for new and existing MSJA families) that helps us provide an economically diverse school community and at the same time keep the school financially healthy. Please note that financial aid application for a new family can only be processed if the student’s admission application is complete.

Tuition Assistance is available beginning in Grade 9. Financial Aid awards are considered based upon completion of the Financial Aid Application by the deadline as well as submission of requisite financial information. All financial aid applicants must also complete the Financial Aid application found at ismfast.com.

Families are also encouraged to file their tax returns as close as possible to the Financial Aid documents submission deadline. Final financial aid awards decisions cannot be made until the school has received and verified the parents’ tax returns as filed with the IRS. Award decisions will be determined and communicated to families in late winter. All financial aid information is kept strictly confidential and we expect families receiving financial aid to respect the confidentiality of the process.

Background

MSJA is an independent non-profit school which meets the charitable and educational definitions of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Financial aid is supported by the Mount Saint Joseph Academy Endowment Fund, the Mount Saint Joseph Academy Middle Income Financial Aid Program, and the Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC/BLOCS/OSTC) program.

The operating budget of MSJA is dependent on various funding sources to support its educational program, including tuition, fees, private and memorial donations, annual benefit/auction fundraising, and foundational support. The operating budget ensures that MSJA meets its commitment to provide a competitive student/teacher ratio and a highly qualified faculty.

MSJA has established a financial aid program, which comprises tuition remission as well as need-based financial aid. MSJA’s Board of Directors (the Board) reviews and approves the policies governing the financial aid on a regular basis. As part of the annual budget process, the Board approves the overall financial aid budget. The Board reserves the right to revisit the policies and implementation of financial aid at any time deemed appropriate. No educational loans will be granted at MSJA.

The criteria used to determine financial aid recipients are based upon the inability of an admitted student’s family to pay the full tuition and fees to attend MSJA. As is the practice of other private schools, MSJA outsources information collection and data analysis using the Financial Aid for School Tuition (FAST) Program powered by Independent School Management (ISM). Families requesting financial aid must submit an application through FAST. Additional supporting documents may also be required by the MSJA Financial Aid Committee.

In accordance with equal opportunity standards, awards are made without regard to a student’s race, color, religion, gender, national origin, disability or age and in compliance with existing state and federal law or regulations. The financial aid program information will be made available to current and prospective students. Furthermore, information will be posted on MSJA’s website, included in academic program brochures, and distributed at public outreach events (i.e. Open Houses).

In order to administer financial aid, the management established the Mount Saint Joseph Academy Financial Aid Committee, which consists of the School President, Director of Finance, and Director of Admission.

Qualifications for Financial Aid

MSJA recognizes that the primary responsibility for financing a student’s education rests with her family. A family is defined as consisting of both natural parents of the applicant, any stepparent, plus any children from the original marriage along with any children born during the current marriage. MSJA will not be necessarily bound by the assertion of a parent, including statements in a divorce decree, that he/she is not responsible legally for educational expenses, but will retain the sole discretion to determine on a case-by-case basis whether the financial circumstances of a divorced parent justify the providing of financial aid by MSJA. Thus, both parents must provide the information that is requested on the FAST online application. Non-custodial parents are also required to complete an online application and submit the appropriate supporting documentation.

In accordance with guidelines from FAST, MSJA holds that for those applying for financial aid, both parents in a two-parent household should be employed. Exceptions include families with children younger than kindergarten age, other dependents in the home requiring full-time care, or a documented physical or health problem that prevents gainful employment. If one parent is not employed, and there are no extenuating circumstances, the MSJA Financial Aid Committee will use the FAST guidelines for imputing income (currently $15,000) for this parent. Any necessary childcare costs will be considered. If multiple children attend tuition-charging schools, it is expected that the family will apply for financial aid at all schools. MSJA should not be expected to subsidize tuition at other schools or colleges.

Financial aid is offered to a family for the purpose of providing tuition assistance only. It does not reduce any other costs associated with attending MSJA, e.g., Parents’ Association dues, trip fees, laptop computer costs, after school activities. Please contact the Financial Aid Administrator if you would like a breakdown of likely additional fees.

Financial aid awards for students attending MSJA in the year the application is submitted are contingent upon the student successfully completing the school year and the payment in full of all financial obligations set forth in the Enrollment Agreement for the year. For students not currently attending MSJA, MSJA's Enrollment Agreement authorizes MSJA to contact the applicant's school to determine the applicant's successful completion of the school year and the financial status of the student's account.

Award Determination

The Financial Aid Committee will determine the annual budget for financial aid and submit it for the Board approval as part of the annual budgeting cycle. With careful consideration of the financial aid budget, the Financial Aid Committee will review the FAST analysis of the family’s expected financial contribution and other submitted documents.

After considering all timely applications, the Financial Aid Committee determines the award amount. The Financial Aid Committee uses the FAST report as an assessment tool; however, final award decisions reside within the Financial Aid Committee. Current salary, net worth, and family circumstances will be considered when determining the award amount. Financial aid awards are made on the assumption that the family is allocating the maximum amount of resources within its capacity to fund their child’s or children’s education. It is expected that each family has prioritized educational costs after necessary living expenses.

Hardship Contingency

Financial aid decisions apply only to the year for which an application and supporting documentation are submitted to FAST and MSJA as previously described. When there are dramatic changes in a family’s financial situation due to a significant setback, MSJA will do what it can to make it possible for the child to remain at MSJA. At the same time, MSJA expects a family in this situation to make other adjustments to their family expenditures, in addition to seeking financial aid, to help cover the cost of tuition. Likewise, when a family’s situation improves greatly, MSJA reserves the right to adjust the financial aid award to reflect the positive gain.

A family may experience an extenuating circumstance resulting in an unexpected need for financial assistance. These issues may arise after the application deadline has passed. Those who wish to apply for a hardship contingency would be required to follow the same financial aid guidelines and process.

The Financial Aid Committee reserves the right to review extenuating circumstances on a case-by-case basis. The financial aid contract will be sent to both parents, who must then decide how to divide the family contribution. It is the responsibility of both parents to ensure that MSJA receives payment for educational services.

Financial Aid Award Notification

Families will be notified of their awards for the next academic year only if their current tuition balance is current and clear. Financial aid cannot be applied toward any tuition or unpaid fees from prior years. Financial aid applicants must still pay the enrollment deposit when submitting the enrollment or re-enrollment contract.

Families who are notified of a financial aid award must accept or decline the award within two weeks of notification. If the family fails to comply with this and other reasonable requirements, the Financial Aid Committee reserves the right to grant the award to another applicant. If sufficient funds are unavailable to meet the demonstrated need of all qualified candidates, priority goes first to returning students and then to new students.

Awards will not be automatically renewed for subsequent years. Every year, families must complete the required forms and provide the necessary documentation demonstrating need to be considered for financial aid.

Families may appeal a financial aid decision or award amount, within 30 days from the date of the Financial Aid Award letter or date of the event precipitating the appeal, if they can provide supplemental information to the Financial Aid Committee pertinent to the award computation (See Exhibit A, Appeal Process). Financial aid awards are credited to the student’s account at the beginning of the billing cycle of an academic year.

Exhibit A

Financial Aid Appeal Requirements

Financial Aid Appeals are for parents who are requesting financial aid in excess of what has already been awarded due to extenuating circumstances that occurred since the original financial aid submission.Extenuating circumstances such as:

  • Student Illness
  • Illness of immediate family member
  • Death of immediate family member
  • Change in employment
  • Verifiable Error by the Academy
  • Other – provide detailed account of the extenuating circumstance

All requirements must be met before your appeal will be considered. Before submitting your appeal, carefully review the information below:

  • Payment: All past due charges must be paid on your account.If you are unable to pay the full amount, please call 215-233-3177, extension 310 to make payment arrangements.
  • Documentation: Include independent documentation that supports the reason for your request, along with any information you believe would be helpful to the committee in making their decision. Failure to do so will deny your appeal.
    • For medical issues, include a letter from a physician or other medical practitioner, on letterhead, detailing the dates of treatment and statement attesting to student’s condition as reason for withdrawal.
    • For death in family, please include a copy of the death certificate.
    • For change in employment, submit a letter from your employer, on letterhead, stating date of change and revised hours.
    • For any other situations, supporting documentation should likewise be attached.

For all appeals, include a personal statement of the situation. Be as specific as possible to dates and circumstances in explaining your request.

  • Submission Deadline: Your financial aid appeal must be received by the Academy within 30 days from the date of the Financial Aid Award letter or date of the event precipitating the appeal.