Are Tuition Increases Pricing Private Schools Out of Range for Many Families?

“Within one to two years, every independent school will cost more than $40,000,” said one board member at a top school who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the school had not yet set tuition.

And that is before requests for the annual fund, tickets to the yearly auction gala and capital campaigns to build a(nother) gym.

via Scraping the $40,000 Ceiling at New York City Private Schools – NYTimes.com.

It seems like a simple matter of supply and demand here. For instance, the article notes in a quote from Pat Bassett, President of NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) that while in the rest of the country the admission pool is declining, this is not the case in New York City, making any reason for “moderate tuition increases” an unnecessary choice. And yet, I have to question the ethical obligation here; do independent schools that are tuition-driven obligated to keep their costs affordable for families not in the top 1%? The population attending our schools will and does change when the tuition is north of $40,000, and that’s not necessarily for the better. There’s usually a cost with such choices, and I hope that as independent school trustees across the nation vote on the 2012-2013 tuition increase this month, they will keep in mind families that only a few years ago sent their children to our schools but can no longer afford to. How has your school’s makeup changed as a result over the years, and how will it change in the coming decade? Are independent schools becoming less diverse socioeconomically? The article alludes to this changing reality for Manhattan private schools: “In a twist, despite the lingering recession, the percentage of students receiving financial aid has not increased alongside tuition.”

 

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