Watershed School’s Financial Assistance Guidelines and Instructions

At Watershed School we seek to find the best fit between the school and student, and strive to make the school accessible to as many families as possible. We are committed to maintaining an economically diverse school community and are proud that approximately 40% of our families receive financial assistance scholarships every year. Watershed School has designed guidelines and procedures informed by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and the Association of Colorado Independent Schools (ACIS) to make decisions that are both consistent and fair in supporting families with a need for financial assistance. Part of the Watershed School mission is to maintain a student body that is economically and culturally diverse and to enable students, who may not have the means but who exhibit a strong capacity for our academic and community curriculum, to afford a Watershed School education. At Watershed School we provide financial aid and financial awards based on need and merit.

Tuition and Program Fees for 2015-16: $20700

9th – 12th grades $2900
8th grade $1900
6th and 7th grades $1725

Experiential program fees are applied to the cost of wilderness orientation, back-country & camping fees, domestic and international trips (including airfare), all transportation and vehicle costs, developing/maintaining experiential staff, and providing experiential courses, twice yearly intensives and May Term.

Following is the process for applying for financial assistance:

STEP 1: FACTS Application

The first step in applying for financial assistance is to submit an online application to FACTS.

The FACTS process looks at the big picture of your finances to help assess an amount that your family is able to pay for tuition. If you have any questions or concerns about the application process, you may speak with a FACTS Customer Care Representative at 1-866-315-9262, or contact them at www.factstuitionaid.com. Please note that it may take up to 2 weeks for your application and supporting tax documents to be processed by FACTS. Please do wait until the school’s deadline to complete your application and upload documents.

Downloadable FACTS Family flier (English)

Downloadable FACTS Family flier (Spanish)

STEP 2: Financial Essay for Watershed School

We want to understand why you are requesting assistance. If your FACTS input does not accurately or fully reflect your financial situation or circumstances, please submit an essay providing additional details. This essay can be 1-2 pages in length and is submitted directly to the Director of Admissions at Watershed School.

STEP 3: Financial Assistance Committee Review

Each application and essay will be reviewed by the Financial Assistance Committee, which grants financial aid on the basis of demonstrated financial need and the availability of funds. The Committee must balance the family’s ability to pay tuition against standards that ensure equitable distribution of awards. Award decisions are based on the FACTS assessment and factors such as income, assets, extenuating circumstances and a demonstrated commitment to a Watershed School education.


  • Families must reapply for financial assistance each year of attendance.
  • Awards are granted only to families for whom all school accounts are current. If a family’s accounts lapse after an award is made, then that award may be revoked or reconsidered.
  • Financial Assistance awards are for tuition only, not for fees.
  • Watershed School prioritizes families that have a demonstrated need of 75% of the tuition costs.
  • If a parent in a family has chosen not to work, Watershed School will impute an income of $40,000 for that parent unless there are extenuating circumstances (e.g. the parent is serving as a caregiver for children under the age of six or who need assistance due to a disability, is providing primary care for a family member, or has a disability that does not allow them to work). These items should be addressed in the family essay.
  • In the case of financial aid, the matter of divorce or separation of parents is a difficult one. Watershed will consider the assets and obligations of both natural parents, if living, before making any award. If either parent has remarried, we will also consider the assets and obligations of the step-parent, always bearing in mind the obligation of that step-parent to his or her own natural children. In view of this policy, it is necessary for both biological parents and their current spouses, if any, to fill out a separate FACTS financial aid form, and it is the responsibility of the custodial parent to ask the non-custodial parent to fill out this form.GUIDELINES
    • Priority is given to returning students and to those who complete the process on time.
    • Prospective parents may apply at any time however; the financial assistance application will only be processed once the student is accepted to Watershed School.
    • Financial Assistance applications can only be considered after all paperwork has been received by Financial Aid Committee.
    • Financial assistance is awarded with the expectation that a student will meet and exceed all expectations of scholastic work and community participation. Funds are limited, so we suggest you enter the admissions process and submit your financial assistance application as early as possible if you anticipate needing financial assistance to attend.
    • Financial assistance will be considered in two (2) rounds. In the first round approximately 75% of the available financial assistance funds are awarded for the upcoming school year. In round 2 we will award remaining available funds. Please see the table below with dates and deadlines.

Financial Aid Committee

The Financial Aid Committee is made up of the Director of Admissions and other members named by the Head of School who will hold the information provided in the strictest confidence.  The committee will consider need based funds, merit grant awards and educational loans as options for each family.

 Watershed High School Excellence Awards – Merit Grants

In addition to need based financial assistance, there are merit grants available. Merit grants are awarded to new students based on the expectation of being an exemplary student (academic and citizenship) who brings an extraordinary quality to the Watershed School community. Merit grants are awarded to students who have a realistic expectation of paying tuition without the grant in future years, but with financial assistance. Please contact the Director of Admissions for more information and deadlines.

Educational Loans

Sallie Mae – the nation’s leading provider of private student loans – to offer loans to families who are pursuing financial aid options. To learn more about Sallie Mae educational loans, please visit the Sallie Mae K-12 Family Education Loan website. The Watershed School code is 607491.

Scholarship Opportunities

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation – Committed to advancing educational opportunities for high-achieving, low-income students, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is pleased to announce the 2015 application for its Young Scholars Program is now open. The Foundation seeks 7th graders from low- to moderate- income families from across the nation who stand out in their schools for their high academic ability and achievement, persistence, and desire to help others.

Institute for Educational Advancement – The Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship is a full four-year, merit-based high school scholarship. The Scholarship can be used nationally toward any high school or approved alternative educational program that best fits the Scholar’s individual intellectual, academic, and personal needs and goals. The Scholarship enables highly able middle school students to explore and access unlimited high school and early college opportunities that provide these young adults with the optimal educational match for their high school career.


Important Dates

January 9, 2015 Deadline for Round 1 applicants
January 26, 2015 Signed enrollment contract, deposit, and tuition forms due
March 1, 2015 Deadline for Round 2 applicants
March 16, 2015 Signed enrollment contract, deposit, and tuition forms due

Applications Instructions for Financial Aid

  1. Fill out the FACTS Grant and Aid Assessment online. You will be asked for the following:  Watershed School’s zip code; 80304. Copies of your most recent tax forms, including all supporting tax schedules (these can be mailed or faxed) Copies of your current W-2 forms for both you and your spouse/partner (these can be mailed or faxed) Copies of supporting documentation for Social Security Income, Welfare, Child Support, Food Stamps, Workers’ Compensation, and TANF.  These can be mailed or faxed to: FACTS Grant & Aid Assessment
    P.O. Box 82524
    Lincoln, NE 68501-2524 Fax Number: 866-315-9264
    If you have any questions or concerns about the application process, you may speak FACTS Customer Care Representative at 1-866-315-9262. Always retain a copy of the application for your records. Please note that it may take up to 2 weeks for your application and supporting tax documents to be processed by FACTS -  DO NOT wait until the school’s deadline to begin uploading documents.
  2. Non-custodial parents must also complete the FACTS Grant and Aid Assessment form by the due date of the round for which the family is applying. Both parents retain the obligation to contribute what they can afford to the education of their children regardless of any divorce or agreements stating otherwise. Financial need is determined by a family’s ability to meet educational expenses.
  3. If either parent has remarried, the financial information of the stepparent must be included on the Facts Grant and Aid Assessment form.
  4. If one parent is not involved in the child’s life, a statement to this effect from a third party that is aware of the situation in a professional capacity (a lawyer, therapist, member of the clergy, etc.) may be substituted for the financial documents from that parent.
  5. Submit a personal letter outlining your situation and any extenuating circumstances you would like considered with your application. Such a letter can be mailed or delivered to Watershed School, Attention: Mishel Gantz, Director of Admissions and must be received by the deadline for each round of financial aid applications. We strongly recommend that families apply by January 9, 2015 as most available funds are awarded in Round 1. This deadline (and all subsequent deadlines) applies to all components of the application: the FACTS application, tax returns, and financial essays.

    FACTS Tuition Management Payment Plan

    All families are required to sign up on FACTS to manage their payments to the school.  Watershed School provides three options for paying tuition.  To enroll for the payment plan, go to the FACTS sign-up page.