Admission Process: Glossary of Terms


Your child has been offered a place for the upcoming school year. You must let the school know your decision by 10:00 am on the reply date or your place will no longer be secure and may be given to another applicant in the waitpool. You should let a school know if you are not accepting your place as soon as you have made your decision so that they are able to offer the spot to someone else.

Application Deadlines

Applications are generally filled out in the fall of the year preceding enrollment. It is essential that applicants adhere to the deadlines at each school to which they are applying.

Applicant Notification of School’s Decision

ISSFBA schools adhere to common dates for notification. These dates are set by ISSFBA each year and will vary from year to year. View the notification dates here.

Applicant Response Deadlines

ISSFBA schools follow the same parent/guardian reply deadlines. Parents/guardians must adhere to the reply deadline or their space may be given away to an applicant in the waiting pool. View the notification dates here.


The California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) is a non-profit organization of 190 elementary, middle and secondary schools in California. The Association serves and strengthens its schools by setting standards of academic quality and ethical conduct, by providing for the professional growth of faculty, administrators and trustees, and by promoting ethnic and socio-economic diversity. It is affiliated with the National Association of Independent Schools.


Your child has not been offered a place and is not in the waiting pool. You may inquire about applying again the following year.

Financial Assistance

Each school has its own process for families who are applying for financial assistance. Financial assistance is not a loan and will not have to be paid back by the family. Financial assistance decisions are communicated during the admission notification period. Please check with each school about their specific financial assistance forms and deadlines.

First Choice Letters and Letters of Recommendation

ISSFBA schools do not encourage formal expressions of first choice. In addition, if schools do not request letters of recommendation, it is not necessary to send them.


Each school’s definition of “legacy” may be different. If you believe you are a legacy at a school, call the admission office to double check that you meet the school’s criteria.


In order to matriculate, an admitted student must enroll in a school. In most cases this means a family will submit a deposit and sign a contract.


The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) is a consortium of independent educational institutions that serve students in grades pre-kindergarten through twelve throughout the United States.

Parent Interview (Parent Meeting)

Schools may require a parent interview or meeting as a part of the admission process. You should check with each school you apply to about this step. If your child resides in multiple households, talk to each admission office about scheduling shared or separate interviews or meeting times.


After a student has been enrolled at a school, the family generally will receive a contract to enroll again the following year. Each school determines its own re-enrollment contract due date for returning students.


School and Student Services by NAIS (SSS) is an independent evaluator of financial aid requests. Many ISSFBA member schools use SSS as part of their financial assistance process. SSS evaluates parent financial statements submitted by the applicant’s parents, determines the level of financial need, and advises member schools of their analysis.

School Records/Transcript

An official transcript (or its equivalent) is an important part of an admission file. An ISSFBA school will not formally enroll a student without first receiving an official transcript from the student’s present school. School report materials are confidential between the sending and receiving school.


A sibling applicant is the brother or sister of a current student at the school to which the applicant is applying. If you have a child at an ISSFBA school and plan on applying to the same school for another child, call the admission office and ask whether they have an ‘early notification for siblings’ policy.

Tuition and Fees

Tuition and fees vary greatly from school to school. When comparing costs, you should consider such things as the length of the program, whether lunch, transportation, and/or books are included, and whether there are additional fees or required loans to the school.

Waiting Pool

Qualified applicants for whom the school cannot immediately offer a space are placed in a waiting pool. Waiting pools remain active through the notification period, and candidates are considered for acceptance if a space becomes available. Some schools keep their waiting pools active throughout the school year, while others deactivate the pool once the school year has begun. You may need to notify the school if you wish to remain in their waiting pool or to be removed. Please check with the schools to which you have applied to clarify their waiting pool procedures.


You may decide to withdraw your child’s application at any time during the admissions process. This will remove your family from the admissions process and you will not be considered for admission during that season. Most schools require that families send a letter or an email to withdraw an applicant.