In November of their daughter’s senior year, the Powell’s weren’t sure about choosing prep school or college. They decided they wanted both options, so they pursued both and postponed the final decision until later.
As they applied to both colleges and prep schools, and started to negotiate financial aid with both, they discovered something they hadn’t expected. Worried the Powell’s would opt for prep school, colleges that were seriously recruiting their daughter offered them more financial aid to try to convince them to choose college. Just the option of seriously exploring prep school provided them financial leverage that was worth about $5,000 per year. While it’s not new for colleges to negotiate financial aid when competing with other colleges, competing with prep school is a different variable, and because it is it gave the Powell’s a different kind of leverage they hadn’t expected.
In the end, they chose college after getting an offer that was too good to pass up. Since they had opted for college, the Powell’s initially felt they had wasted the money spent on getting help with the prep school process. After some reflection, they came to the realization that it was a very smart move. They saved almost ten times what they invested by simply exploring the prep school option.