Get to Know Prospect Sierra
Welcome to Prospect Sierra’s Admissions Department. We know how important it is to you to give your child an education they will always cherish, and we’re thrilled you’re here to learn more about us.
Prospect Sierra is home to passionate, innovative teachers who help our students:
• Practice deep intellectual engagement
• Develop nuanced self-knowledge
• Recognize the importance of caring for others
Though the future holds many unknowns, we do know that these three critical skills will prepare our students to collaborate, communicate, tackle complex challenges, and help make the world a better place. We are incredibly proud of our independent thinkers, creative problem solvers, thoughtful citizens, and good friends.
We invite you to experience our expansive El Cerrito campuses in person. We’re just a short drive north of Berkeley and Albany. Transportation service is available for students from Berkeley and Oakland.
We can’t wait to meet you, get to know your family, and introduce you to our innovative program and joyful school community.
Renée, Amy, Beth, and Mecca
The Admissions Team
How to Apply
Applying is easy and we’re always here to answer any questions. For more information, see our Admissions Viewbook.
When trying to find the best-fit school for your child, you may find yourself with several choices. And you may be wondering, Why Prospect Sierra? To help you learn more about who we are, we’ve asked our students to tell you a little bit about what it’s like to be a student at Prospect Sierra. From close teacher relationships and academic challenge to inclusivity and lifelong friendships, our students love being a part of the Prospect Sierra community. Don’t take our word for it though – take theirs!
Prospect Sierra is dedicated to providing access to students from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Today, 15 percent of Prospect Sierra’s operating budget is devoted to Flexible Tuition (more than $2M), which allows families to commit to an education they can afford for their tenure at Prospect Sierra.
Tuition for the 2018-19 school year is $27,120 at our elementary school (K-4th grade) and $30,725 at our middle school (5th-8th grade).
We believe that every family should be able to afford Prospect Sierra and to that end, tuition amounts are flexible. Current families pay tuition ranging from $3,000 to $30,725 for the 2018-19 school year, and more than 1 in 3 students utilize the school’s Flexible Tuition Program.
Prospect Sierra families make the financial commitment to an independent school because they know that investing in their child’s education has great impact, both today and far beyond the K-8 years. While every family is expected to pay some portion of the tuition and to support the community to the extent that they can, we do not expect tuition to be the same for everyone.
The school encourages families to apply for flexible tuition if they think they may qualify. Our admissions process is needs-blind, which means that an admissions offer for each student is not contingent upon a family’s ability to pay.
Applying for Flexible Tuition
Prospect Sierra uses the School and Student Services (SSS) for our Flexible Tuition online application. To apply:
- • Visit solutionsbysss.com and complete The Parents’ Financial Statement (PFS) by Friday, January 18, 2019.
- • Our SSS school code is 7370.
- • Please upload the required documentation to your Flexible Tuition (PFS) application:
- • Copies of 2017 tax information (1040, W-2s,1099s, any relevant schedules) by January 18, 2019.
- • Copies of 2018 tax information (1040, W-2s,1099s, any relevant schedules) by April 15, 2019.
- • Copies of your last three pay stubs.
Please contact us for more information or assistance. Prospective families will be notified of their admission and flexible tuition decisions at the same time during their admissions process. The first notification will be on Thursday, March 14, 2019 for enrolling in the 2019-20 school year.
We look forward to working with you and your family.
What is Flexible Tuition?
Flexible Tuition allows families to commit to an education they can afford for their tenure at Prospect Sierra. Current families pay tuition ranging from $3,000 to $30,725 for the 2018–19 school year. The school encourages families to apply for flexible tuition if they think they may qualify. Prospect Sierra is committed to keeping the school accessible to families from a wide range of economic backgrounds, and our belief is that cost should not prevent anyone from sending their child to the school.
Is my family eligible for Flexible Tuition?
There is a wide range of families who qualify, from those who can afford only minimal tuition to those who can afford significantly more. The complex formula used to calculate the exact flexible tuition level considers many factors that affect a family’s ability to pay – income, assets, debts, and unexpected expenses to name a few. In order for the school to determine appropriate tuition levels, families are required to fill out the entire <a href=”https://www.solutionsbysss.com/parents/”>Parents’ Financial Statement</a> (PFS) application.
What is included in Prospect Sierra’s tuition? Are there any additional costs?
- Tuition at the school includes books, materials, study trips and overnights, devices for middle school, and yearbooks.
- Not included – Site fee assessment ($1,000 per family paid over two years and pro-rated for families paying flexible tuition), PSPA dues ($50 per family) and Pizza Day fee ($60 per child), Zum transportation costs (variable), and Extended Program options (variable).
Does an application for flexible tuition affect a student’s chances of admission to the school?
A family’s economic background does not affect a student’s acceptance by the school. Flexible tuition is determined separately from the admissions process.
When will a family learn if they have been offered Flexible Tuition?
Admission acceptance decisions are sent on March 14, 2019, and will include a separate response regarding Flexible Tuition. Responses to families will fall into three categories: an offer of Flexible Tuition; notification that the family does not qualify for Flexible Tuition; or notice that the family is waitlisted for Flexible Tuition. A waitlist designation means that a family will be considered for Flexible Tuition if additional funding becomes available.
If a student’s family participates in flexible tuition, does the student stay in the program until graduation?
Provided family circumstances remain the same and the school’s resources can continue to support the program to the same extent, the school intends to fund the student for all their years at Prospect Sierra. To continue in the program, the family must reapply each year.
If a family does not receive flexible tuition one year, can they re-apply the following year?
Although a family is welcome to re-apply or apply for the first time for flexible tuition in any year, families that come in at a certain level are expected to stay within that range barring any major financial change (job loss, incoming sibling, etc.)
We are currently not planning on applying for Flexible Tuition, yet this could change if our financial situation changes. What do you recommend we do?
If you are currently not in need of flexible tuition and you do not foresee this need, you should not apply for it at this time. However, families are expected to stay within their tuition range barring any major financial change (job loss, incoming sibling, etc). If a change in your family’s financial circumstances occurs at any time after enrolling at Prospect Sierra resulting in a need to apply for flexible tuition, please contact the Business Office immediately.
In the case of parents/guardians who do not live together (e.g. divorced, separate, never married), do both households have to submit financial information?
Yes, each parent/guardian household must submit a Parents’ Financial Statement (PFS) along with all 2017 and 2018 tax documents (1040, W-2, any relevant schedules) to be considered for Flexible Tuition. Prospect Sierra determines ability to pay by factoring in all available resources from both parents and step-parents, regardless of custody or other legal issues.
What if my family has unusual circumstances?
Please send us a supplemental letter if there is additional information that addresses your financial situation not taken into account by the Parents’ Financial Statement (PFS). We also welcome emails and phone calls to discuss your confidential situation.
What is the tuition payment plan for Prospect Sierra?
- Two Payments
- Monthly Payments
What is the tuition refund plan?
Families can choose to purchase Tuition Refund Insurance (TRI) offered to Prospect Sierra families through Dewar, Inc. If your child is unable to complete the school year because of absence, withdrawal, or dismissal, this insurance may entitle you to a refund of the unused portion of your tuition according to the terms of the policy. Your cost for the Tuition Refund Insurance is billed separately, and represents 2.6% of your tuition amount.