Sliding Scale Tuition

Mustard Seed School is known for its robust need-based financial aid program, made possible by the generosity of individual donors, businesses, churches, and foundations. 

To help our families understand how our financial aid program works, we’re updating our language. The program still works exactly the same way; however, we’re now calling it Sliding Scale Tuition

Every student’s tuition is indexed to some degree; the highest tuition rate does not completely cover the full cost of educating a student at Mustard Seed School. Every family benefits from funds from the endowment and the generosity of our donors.

What is Sliding Scale Tuition?

Sliding Scale Tuition is one way that we live out our mission to remove barriers to education. We believe that all children should have equitable access to education, regardless of their socio-economic background. Over 50% of our students are charged tuition on a sliding scale. 

Sliding Scale Tuition enables all MSS families to educate their children as equal members of an economically diverse community. It removes the categories of “financial aid” and “full paying” families.

The benefits are clear. Economic diversity:

  • broadens perspectives. 
  • reinforces core values of removing barriers to education.
  • expands students’ vision of and for the world. 
  • enriches our community.
  • fosters inclusion.
  • enhances the educational and social-emotional experience for both children and adults.
  • reflects the fullness and beauty of God’s kingdom here on earth.

How does it work?

Sliding Scale Tuition is based on the principle that a family’s financial commitment should be in equitable proportion to its financial resources. Tuition is indexed to your family’s unique financial profile, not solely income. Families apply for Sliding Scale Tuition. Need is assessed by Smart Aid and the MSS Financial Evaluation Committee.

It is an equitable process: the same financial information is asked of all parents who apply for tuition on a sliding scale. 

What percentage of your student body receives sliding scale tuition?

Over 50% of our student body receives Sliding Scale Tuition. We believe in equitable access to education. Providing financial aid is a part of our mission to remove barriers to excellent education.

What factors do you consider to determine my tuition?

Many factors are considered when determining the tuition amount a family is able to pay, including income, assets, extenuating circumstances, and the size of the family. 

How do I apply for Sliding Scale Tuition?

Parents apply for Sliding Scale Tuition through a third party, Smart Aid. Smart Aid evaluates your financial need and makes a recommendation to our Financial Evaluation Committee. The committee reviews your entire financial picture and determines your tuition.

When you apply for Sliding Scale Tuition through Smart Aid, you will need to upload your most recent IRS Form 1040, W-2, and pay stub. Separated or divorced parents are required to submit a set of documents for each parent and a copy of all legal documents pertaining to the child custody and support agreements.

What are the full tuition costs?

Maximum fees are set annually by the Board of Trustees in January.

2019-20 Tuition and fees
Program Maximum Tuition
Three-mornings/wk preschool $10,100
Five-mornings/wk preschool $14,200
Full-day preschool $22,600
Kindergarten-8th grade $22,600
Field trip and activity fee (K-8th grade only)

  • K-Grade 1: $90
  • Grades 2 & 3: $125
  • Grades 4-8: $425

What kind of economic situation is typical of a family who qualifies for Sliding Scale Tuition?

A wide range of families with a variety of circumstances qualify for the program, from those who are able to pay close to the full tuition rate to those who are at the entry level of the sliding scale  tuition range. Many factors are considered when determining the tuition amount a family is able to pay, including income, assets, extenuating circumstances, and the size of the family. 

If you have questions, contact Imaani F. Sanders (, Director of Admissions and High School Guidance or Angela Ho (, Director of Finance.

Who funds Sliding Scale Tuition?

Mustard Seed provides Sliding Scale Tuition thanks to the generosity of donors. This includes gifts from individuals, churches, companies, and foundations. Go to our Giving section to learn more.

Do all families pay tuition?

Yes. Every family is required to make some financial investment in their child’s education. Our commitment to providing Sliding Scale Tuition means that we and our donor community are sharing in that investment with you.

What is the deadline to apply for Sliding Scale Tuition?

The deadline to apply for Sliding Scale Tuition is February 15.

How do I get in touch with Smart Aid?

You can call Smart Aid at 800.360.8027 or contact them through their website:

Do you require a deposit?

If you are a newly admitted family, you pay a deposit when you sign your enrollment contract. If you are paying full tuition, your deposit is 10% of the annual tuition. If you are applying for Sliding Scale Tuition, the deposit will be adjusted based on your Sliding Scale Tuition decision.

What are my payment options for tuition?

If you wish to pay your tuition in full, you may make a single payment directly to the school by April 10. If you wish to pay tuition in installments, you may contract with SMART Tuition, a third party that administers our tuition payments. All payments are due on the 10th of each month. You may choose the payment interval that works best for you: semi-annual, quarterly, or monthly. Late fees apply.