A CNNMoney piece offers some good tips on how the get the best financial aid package possible. Private schools of all types tend to have more aid to offer than public schools, and the tight economy has them competing with each other more and more for students.
The key is to apply to several schools, and see what each one offers. If the school that’s your #1 choice doesn’t offer a strong aid package, go back to them and show them what you’ve been offered by other schools. It’s called asking for a “reassessment,” and schools do it all the time.
You don’t want to act like price is the only thing that’s going to determine where you go to school. But a little gentle negotiation can get you an aid package that’s better than the first offer.