New Fund Helps Address Financial Inequality


Scarlett Chu, Editor

Making sure every student has equal opportunity and access to our resources is one of Kent’s founding principles: Fr. Sill’s wanted to teach students from “all walks of life,” and Kent was the first secondary school in the U.S. to charge tuition on a sliding scale. Along with Kent Parents Fund and the Financial Aid Program, Kent is proud to announce the creation of a new financial aid discretionary fund: one for students’ daily spending outside of tuition. 

Financial aid is generally applied to a student’s tuition and school fees in the form of grants, and Kent’s financial awards follow a similar pattern. “In a private school, there’re always a lot of other things that come along with costs attached, and they’re hard to predict,” says Nancy Peterson, Director of Financial Aid. She lists out some examples such as private music lessons, the equestrian program, the yearbook, and uniforms for sports teams. “Those things add up really quickly, and it bothered me that students receiving financial need may find themselves in situations where they were prevented to participate in school activities for financial reasons.”

The intent of this new fund is to help ensure that the qualifying students’ experience at Kent is not limited by their ability to afford some of the many “extra” expenses that come up during the year, such as spendings at the Snack Bar, Lion’s Den, or for school outings. It will be earmarked for relatively high-need families whose need-based financial aid grants cover 80% of tuition and above. Qualified students receive $500 per term deposited into their student card, with an additional $500 during their senior or PG spring for prom and graduation. 

As the school sized down on the student population this year, the admissions department allocated a part of the funds to provide some of the financial aid students with some discretionary money to help them take full advantage of Kent’s unique opportunities. The school has been incrementally trying to address this issue for years, and Mr. Hirschfeld took the initiative to introduce this new fund. 

For the 2021-22 school year, there are currently 62 enrolled students who fall into this category. Mrs. Peterson has been meeting up with these individual students to talk about how this aid works and how to budget the money—the funds don’t continue into the next school year—but families can individually decide how to spend the money. “Hopefully, this aid can level the playing field of giving students the same experience in Kent without having to rethink decisions for monetary concerns,” said Peterson. She is happy to say that the families were thrilled and great to receive this extra award, saying how the money makes a huge difference to them and their day-to-day lives on campus. While the fund won’t pay for all expenses, it goes a long way to eliminating financial inequality in Kent.