Photo of a student that may need financial aid counseling or help applying for private schools and independent schools

We are here to answer your questions!

“Early Steps was very informative and very supportive and comforting. I never felt alone….What more could one ask for….it makes a big difference in our lives.”

Parent of Clarence

“Thank you so much for your guidance and encouragement. Because of the team at Early Steps the process was absolutely phenomenal”

Parent of Elon

FAQs About Applying For Private Schools or Independent Schools

1. What is the Early Steps program?

The Early Steps program provides families of children of color information about the benefits of an independent school education for their children; counseling for applicant families through the complicated admissions process; a workshop series on diversity, equity and inclusion targeted to families and staff members; and support for the Early Steps Family Network where enrolled families assist new families in transition to their new school.

2. Who should apply to Early Steps?

Early Steps was created specifically to increase racial diversity in New York City’s independent schools. Since 1986, Early Steps has partnered with families and schools to place children of Black, Latino, American Indian and Asian backgrounds in kindergarten and first grade.

3. At what age should I apply for my child?

The application process for independent schools begins a year before the children actually enter school. Early Steps serves families whose children will be entering kindergarten (age 4 by August 31st of the year they apply) or first grade (age 5 by August 31st of the year they apply). The independent school birthday cutoff requires that children turn 5 by August 31st in order to enter kindergarten; and 6 by August 31st in order to enter 1st grade.

4. What is the geographic area served by Early Steps?

Early Steps schools are currently located in three of New York City’s boroughs: The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, as well as Long Island. You do not have to live in one of these areas to send your child to school there however you must be able to bring your child to school. School bus transportation between boroughs is not available.

5. When should I first contact Early Steps?

The Early Steps registration process begins in late June of the year that your child turns 4 for kindergarten and 5 for first grade. The application is on the website.

6. Does application to Early Steps guarantee admission to a school?

Our mission is to guide families of children of color through the independent school application process. We are not a placement agency and therefore do not guarantee that your child will gain admission to any of the schools to which you apply. We provide information, assistance and serve as a resource.

7. Does Early Steps charge for its services?

Early Steps does not charge for its services however there are fees associated with the application process such as school application fees, and the financial aid qualification process. Families applying for financial aid qualify to have these fees waived. 

8. What about cost and affordability?

Early Steps families represent a broad range of income levels. Some families pay full tuition while others receive financial aid in varying amounts according to individual needs and the schools’ available resources. Each family is required to pay some portion of the tuition. Early Steps provides counseling and support to families applying for financial aid. We do not provide financial aid; member schools award all financial aid. 

9. Will applying for financial aid affect the admissions decision?

No, these decisions are made independently. Admissions decisions are made first followed by the financial aid process.

10. What is the timeline for the application process?

Applications to schools are submitted by parents and are due from mid-October through December 1st, and enrollment decisions are emailed in mid-February.