With more students applying for tuition assistance, Boston-area parochial and independent schools are scrambling to increase aid while also grappling with higher costs for fuel and school supplies. "It's very difficult now for families," said Dorothy Wang, admissions director of a small secondary school with tuition of $23,337 annually. "Many would love to send their children here, but then they think about the economy, and some really have to ponder and decide whether this is the route to go."

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