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Adjustable Tuition Program

At San Francisco Friends School, we are committed to engaging our students in experiences, ideas, ways of thinking, and ways of being that are different than their own. Creating a diverse community is critical to providing a rich, challenging educational experience for every student in our school.

One way we create a diverse community is by adjusting our school’s tuition to meet the financial circumstances of each of our families. The Adjustable Tuition program is key to promoting socioeconomic diversity and one of our school’s top budgetary priorities. Every year, around 20% of the budget is devoted to this programmatic expense that delivers benefits to every student.

San Francisco Friends School subscribes to the School and Student Services for Financial Aid (SSS), a service widely used by independent schools, in order to receive an objective report of each family’s financial need. SSS processes the information provided by each family on the Parent Financial Statement along with 2 years of federal income tax documentation, and calculates an estimate of a family’s ability to contribute toward tuition. Through the school’s Adjustable Tuition Program, each family’s individual situation is considered and a tuition is determined in conjunction with the SSS.

We strongly encourage every family who feels they may benefit from an adjusted tuition to explore the Adjusted Tuition Program and what it may mean for your family. Families participating in the program have a wide range of incomes, assets, and individual situations (e.g., multiple children in school, parent out of work, supporting a grandparent.) Families do need to make a new request each year. It is the family’s responsibility to report any change in their financial circumstances so we can adjust their tuition accordingly. If a family’s circumstances are the same from one year to the next, they can expect to have their tuition adjusted to approximately the same percentage of the total annual tuition for that year.

Letters notifying families of their adjusted tuition rate are sent with admission acceptance letters in March.

new families: begin adjustable tuition process



current families: begin adjustable tuition process



Should I request an adjusted tuition?

If you feel that even a modest tuition adjustment would make a financial difference for your family, we encourage you to request a tuition adjustment. We are committed to making a San Francisco Friends School education possible for families from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds. Families from low, middle and upper-middle income ranges may qualify for an adjusted tuition depending on their unique circumstances.

We know that some families hesitate to request an adjusted tuition. Some are daunted by the process while others fear that their request will be denied. We encourage you to go through the process regardless. While each family carries the primary responsibility for financing their child’s education, we’re here to support you.

What factors determine the adjusted tuition amount?

In evaluating each request, the Adjustable Tuition Committee considers all sources of income for the family (including separated, divorced, never-married parents, step-parents or partners), the value of assets, debts, family size, the number of students in tuition-charging institutions, and financial choices such as cars, second property ownership, vacations, club memberships, recreational vehicles, and certain qualifying unusual or unanticipated expenses. San Francisco Friends School also takes into consideration the cost of living in the Bay Area. Neither San Francisco Friends School nor School and Student Services (SSS) believes that a family should contribute 100% of their discretionary funds, but it is expected that families will consider their child’s education/school tuition a top priority.

In the case of divorced parents, we expect parents to share the responsibility of tuition costs. Each parent, stepparent, or partner (regardless of legal settlements) is required to complete the process described, including a separate Parent Financial Statement to SSS.

Do both parents need to be employed to be considered for an adjusted tuition?

San Francisco Friends School recognizes the importance of full-time parenting, especially for young children. Once all children in the household have entered kindergarten, it is expected that both parents are employed. When considering an adjusted tuition amount, income is imputed for non-working parents with school-aged children. In some cases it may be impossible for a parent to be employed outside the home, and we encourage you to explain your specific situation in writing to San Francisco Friends School.

Sometimes a family will make a decision to decrease the family income voluntarily (i.e. one parent returns to school, leaves work to pursue a less lucrative career, become self-employed, or opts to invest in a business venture, etc). San Francisco Friends School is not able to fund those decisions and in most cases, will continue to impute an income level equivalent to the prior level. Unpaid leave or termination of employment following the birth of a child, a major illness, disability, etc. will not be considered a voluntary decrease in income.

We encourage you to keep an open line of communication with our Business Office should your family situation change significantly. We understand that financial setbacks can occur and we are here to help. We also appreciate hearing good news when your financial situation improves and we may have the opportunity to redirect support you no longer need to others in our community.

How much would we pay for tuition?

In the current school year, tuition for individual families ranges from $750 to $31,800. Within our community, 27% of our students pay tuitions adjusted to meet the financial realities of their family situations. Families participating in the program have a wide range of incomes, assets, and individual circumstances (e.g., multiple children in school, parent out of work, supporting a grandparent). We have provided a few potential scenarios below to help make the adjusted tuition process more tangible for families who might consider a Friends School education but are concerned with the cost of an independent school.

Scenario 1: Dave is a full-time high school teacher and his partner Sharon is a freelance graphic designer, together the couple brings home $135,000 per year in income. With some help from family members they purchased a modest home but have yet to build up much home equity after taking out a second mortgage to do some remodeling. Other than the mortgage, they have no debt. Their second child is entering kindergarten this year. They live on a fairly tight budget limiting extras like eating out; they enjoy vacations up in Tahoe at a home owned by Sharon’s parents. They have about $50,000 in the bank in a rainy day fund and beginning retirement fund. Adjusted Tuition for this family is ~ $7,500 per child.

Scenario 2: Thomas is a single father with one child. Working as a bookkeeper at a small company, he brings home $65,000 per year. He and his son live in a rent controlled apartment and enjoy cooking together at home and old movies. Thomas has about $5,000 in cash/savings and $1,000 in credit card debt. He’ll use much of his savings to pay off a few dental bills incurred this year. Adjusted Tuition for Thomas and his son is ~$4,000 per year.

Scenario 3: Judy is a part-time pre-school teacher and Donna works as a lawyer. Together the couple earns $290,000. They own their home in the city and have built up some home equity over the past 12 years. They send both children to independent schools. Although they have savings of $75,000 they are also working to pay down the remaining $65,000 in student debt from law school. Although they have a more substantial discretionary income, two tuitions are a significant expense. Adjusted Tuition for this family is ~$25,000 per student.

Please do note that the adjusted tuition scenarios listed above are not a promise of any specific adjustment but an indication of a range of possible outcomes. We strive to ensure each family’s tuition is aligned with their family situation and in keeping with the assumption that your child’s education is a top financial priority for the family. We look forward to working with you to make a Friends School education possible for families across the full, socioeconomic spectrum.


What do I need to do?

For current families, click here for information about required documents and deadlines.

For applicant families, click here for information about required documents and deadlines.

When do I need to begin?

End of December

  • Start collecting your paperwork (W2s, K1s, year-end statements)
  • If you have a tax professional, contact them to make an early appointment.


  • Complete the Parents Financial Statement
  • Complete 2020 taxes
  • Please note: Earn It! Keep It! Save It! Bay Area provides free tax preparation to low- to moderate-income individuals, families and seniors. Click here for information.


  • Submit the PFS and all tax documentation

Late February

  • Adjusted tuition contracts released for returning families


  • Accepted applicant families receive admissions notification and tuition information


Direct questions about Adjustable Tuition to:

Kim Plough
Director of Finance and Operations

415-565-0400 x121

Yvette Bonaparte
Director of Admission

415-565-0400 x136