Financial Aid

Welcome to the Ethical Culture Fieldston School Financial Aid webpage.

The TADS financial aid application for the 2018-2019 school year will be available starting October 1, 2017. The deadline for submission will be December 1, 2017. Please mark your calendars. If you have any questions or concerns please contact Victoria Daley at (718) 329-7341 or

The Ethical Culture Fieldston School was founded by Felix Adler with the goal of educating working-class children from New York City. Today we have one of the strongest and most comprehensive financial aid programs of any independent school in the country. Currently, 22 percent of our student body receives financial aid awards totaling in excess of $13,000,000.

ECFS’s strategic plan calls for an increase in the endowment for financial aid, establishing the school as a leader in preserving affordability for all admitted families, regardless of economic status. There are many reasons why families choose an independent school for their children, including small class size, rich curriculum, individual attention, and extracurricular opportunities. Elementary and secondary school years are where the foundations and skills for lifelong learning are acquired, and ethical values are gained and nurtured. We are committed to making this education affordable to all academically qualified students who might otherwise not be able to attend.


What is financial aid?

Financial aid is need-based tuition assistance given to qualified families to offset the cost of an Ethical Culture Fieldston School education. Unlike a student loan, financial aid does not need to be repaid.

Who can apply for financial aid?

Families with students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12 may apply, although financial aid in PreK is limited.

Does applying for aid influence the eligibility for acceptance decision?

Families are encouraged to apply for aid as early as possible because of limited funds. Financial aid grants are not made until after a student meets the qualifications for admission.

How is financial need determined?

A family’s financial need is the difference between the tuition charged and the family’s ability to pay. We use Tuition Aid Data Services (TADS) to help determine what a family is capable of contributing toward educational expenses. Families complete the Tuition Aid Data Services (TADS) application form online, or they can mail in a hard copy directly to them for processing. The application form is then forwarded to the Ethical Culture Fieldston School and provides the school with a general recommendation on a family's ability to pay for education. The financial aid office uses the assessment as a guide in allocating financial aid awards. Other factors are also used when determining the financial need of a family, such as the number of children in tuition-charging schools, all sources of income, savings, investments, and assets.

Is my financial information kept confidential?

Yes. All information relating to the parents' financial position will be treated with the utmost confidentiality. This information is used only to arrive at a fair determination of financial need.

Is financial aid automatically renewed each year?

ECFS requires families receiving aid to re-apply each year. Understanding that it is the family’s obligation to make sure all accounts with the school's business office are current, if a family is in arrears and has not made special arrangements with the business office, the financial aid office may not allocate aid for the following year. If your financial status changes, you may be awarded more or less aid in any given year.

How do I know if I qualify for financial aid?

The Tuition Aid Data Services (TADS) application process ensures that each family's needs can be measured fairly and equitably. If you believe that your resources are not sufficient to meet the total costs of an ECFS education, you are encouraged to apply for aid. You are always welcome to contact the financial aid office to discuss this process further.

Is there a repayment obligation when a family receives financial aid from ECFS?

No. There is no obligation to repay financial aid grant money awarded by the school. Loans are distinct from financial aid grants. Any loans parents make with an independent party should be repaid according to the particular loan agreement.

Does Ethical Culture Fieldston School offer merit-based scholarships?

No. All financial aid at ECFS is awarded on the basis of demonstrated need.

What percentage of the student body receives financial aid?

Currently, 22 percent.

Are the costs of books and lunch included in the tuition? Are any other costs included as well?

Lunch is included in our tuition, but books are not. Books are, on average, an additional $750 for middle and upper school students. If you receive financial aid, the same reduction will be applied to the cost of books.

Are there any additional costs?

Yes. The school is trying to keep all costs at a minimum, but there are additional costs, especially in the upper school. The tuition and fees listed do not cover such costs as transportation, gym clothes, individual music lessons, required trips, athletic fees, and computers with Internet access.

Do you assign an income for parents who do not work?

Yes. The Ethical Culture Fieldston School expects families to look at all of their own resources before requesting financial aid. We will impute a salary to the parent who is not earning income. Families who have children under the age of 5 are exempt from this policy.

Will tuition increase?

Yes. The ECFS board of trustees meets every January to review the tuition figures for the next academic year. Tuition revenues cover only about 82 percent of the school’s annual operating expenses; the remainder comes principally from annual giving and endowment income. As the school's operating costs increase over time, so does tuition, in an attempt to close the gap.

What happens if a family who was admitted as a full-tuition family applies for financial aid?

Families are asked to apply for financial aid by the December 1 deadline. If you did not apply for financial aid during the admission year that your child was admitted to the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, you will not be awarded aid. The only time an exception may be made is in the event of a significant change in your circumstances, such as loss of a job, death of a parent, additional child entering a tuition-charging school, or an illness that prevents a parent from earning income.

How do you treat divorce decrees in which one parent refuses to pay for independent school education?

Ethical Culture Fieldston School expects that separated or divorced parents will contribute to the cost of their child’s education, regardless of whether or not there is legal obligation for them to do so. In the cases of divorce or separation, ECFS requires information from both natural parents and step-parents. We can appreciate that these are difficult times for families but require that each parent complete and submit a Tuition Aid Data Services (TADS) application. While the financial aid committee will consider the assets of both natural parents and step-parents in determining an award, we take into consideration the other obligations of that step-parent.

Contact Us

If you have questions or need help with the financial aid process, please email us at or call the Financial Aid Office at (718) 329-7341.

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