Private schools prep for economic hard times: As the economy tumbles, administrators scramble to help families keep their children in private schools

From prestigious schools that attract wealthy families to church schools that serve the poor, private schools are feeling the pinch of an economy gone bad. Financial aid applications and scholarships are on the rise, and admissions applications are flat to slightly declining, private school officials say. When the Archdiocese of Chicago announced at the end of January that emergency aid was available for families who lost jobs this school year, it was deluged within days. “We have more than 1,000 applications already,” Catholic schools Supt. Sister Mary Paul McCaughey said.