The Joyful Journey

A Different Approach to Financial Aid

This post is written by Tabitha Jorgensen, a current member of our Board of Trustees.  Tabitha previously served as our  Admissions Coordinator, welcoming new families to Meadowbrook for more than 14 years.

Part of the Mission Statement of the Meadowbrook Waldorf School reads, “We strive to offer this education to those who seek it here…” One of the ways MWS supports this part of the mission is through financial aid, and like many things at a Waldorf School, we do it a little differently. For one thing, we call it “adjustment” not “aid,” and this is quite purposeful.

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A more traditional financial aid system works something like this: The school has a line item in their budget designated for financial aid. This is a specific amount of money set aside and given out to families who qualify. Once the limit is met, the school generally won’t give out any more. The allocated amount can be adjusted during budget planning, but generally not during the school year.

At Meadowbrook we don’t have a budgeted line item for financial aid. So how do we responsibly budget this way? How do we meet the needs of our community members for whom full tuition is not possible? How do we work with a family facing a financial crisis?

First, we rely on our experience and make some educated estimates. Based on past experience, we are able to determine the percentage of students that will need adjustment with reliable accuracy. An “average” tuition amount is calculated per student and a budget is built around that number. In this way, any new family who applies to MWS late in the season adds to the bottom line of our budget, even if they are not able to pay full tuition.

Second, we have cash reserves for a rainy day. If a particular year turns out to be financially challenging for our families and more requests for adjustment are made than anticipated, or emergency situations arise during the school year (job loss, unexpected medical conditions etc.), we are generally able to meet those needs. If a trend begins, as it did when the recession hit, future budgets are adjusted accordingly.

Third, we are committed to working this way. It is a time consuming process to manage every case through our tuition-adjustment committee, but every family and every circumstance is unique. This work provides an opportunity for MWS to show that we honor and value all our families, and it is also a time when our families can see Meadowbrook principles in action.

It is through working with families, and not merely formulaic calculations, that we strive to reach a tuition level that is acceptable to both the family and the school. As with any agreement between two parties, there are expectations. Families can expect a confidential, fair, thorough process from MWS, a process in which they are active participants. In turn, MWS expects that our families will make choices to demonstrate they consider this education is a priority.

Part of managing a thorough process means a family must provide financial documents, honor deadlines, and present a complete picture of their circumstances.  Part of creating a fair process means MWS cannot support certain “lifestyle” choices through the tuition adjustment program. For example, our policy statement indicates both parents should be employed once all children are of school age. MWS cannot subsidize a choice to be unemployed at the expense of our other families or our faculty. Of course there are exceptional circumstances and times where employment is not about choice – illnesses, job changes, divorce, etc. Exceptional circumstances will always be considered.

The tuition adjustment program is designed to meet as many families as possible, sustainably and fairly. The tuition adjustment committee works to balance the needs of our families with the needs of faculty, staff, programming, and facilities. The tuition adjustment program is an area where we express our belief that those in a Waldorf community carry one another’s destiny. Meadowbrook is entrusted with supporting the destiny of a child and that child’s family. The family, in turn, supports MWS through tuition, and by participating in the vibrant community life of the school.

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Introducing Acorns: A New Parent-Toddler Class

Acorn. New forest preschool class offered Fall 2014.

Acorns: An Outdoor Parent Child Program (3-4 years)


Get a taste of the “forest nursery” concept popular in Europe and recently profiled in the Providence Journal. Acorns is an outdoor parent child program for 3-4 year olds and their caregivers. Spend time exploring our beautiful forest and meadows at a child’s pace. Share story, song and snack outdoors as your child is allowed to play freely and discover our world.  Held on Thursdays from 9-10:30am beginning in April.  CLICK HERE for more information and the registration form.

Parent-Child Programs: Upcoming Sessions

Now Enrolling for the Spring Session beginning the week of February 23rd.

Parent Infant New ClassParent-Child Program
(Birth to 12 months)
Our doors opened even wider this past September with the launch of the Parent and Infant Program. For infants and their caregivers, this program provides an opportunity to find and give support during one of the most joyous, exhausting and overwhelming times of parenthood.

Parent Infant Class – Spring 2015(1) – Registration

Now Offering Two Mixed Age Toddler Classes (9 months-3 years)
For the spring session, we are offering two of our popular toddler classes. Perfect for the new walker to the older toddler, and their caregiver. In these 12 week class you can explore the joys and challenges of raising your child in a supportive and nurturing environment. Caregivers and children share a lovely morning of play, snack and circle time. Siblings are welcome.

Wed Mixed Age Toddler Class – Winter 2015 – Registration

Thursday Mixed Age Toddler Class – Mid Semester Winter 2015 – Registration

Holiday Faire – Wooden Toys

woodentoyssewingThe Holiday Faire store will be brimming with delightful gifts including a large selection of thoughtfully and sustainably crafted wooden toys.

Some of these wooden toys are being provided by The Wooden Toy Junction located in Pembroke, MA. They proudly present all natural, non-toxic classic toys made from beautiful, sustainably harvested wood.

Owner Vinny Caruso is a gracious and generous man as well as a talented woodworker.  He believes in the importance of a child’s play and is dedicated to providing that opportunity with his wooden toys.  Mr. Caruso has donated a hook and ladder fire truck to our online school auction that begins November 21 and runs for approximately 3 weeks. (More details on our online auction coming soon!)

woodentoystruckWe are featuring many of these hand- crafted wooden toys at the Holiday Faire.   Shop early on Friday November 21 during our adult event from 6-9PM for the best selection.  The store is also open all day during our family event Saturday November 22 from 10-4. See you at the Faire!

Holiday Faire Poster

 

Site Design and Development by Ian O'Brien | Background painting by Nicole Besack | Select Photos by Monica Rodgers and Seth Jacobson