No doubt about it, private school tuition costs are rising. Some schools seem to be rising at a faster rate than others. Why? What's behind those tuition increases? Unfortunately for many private schools costs of basic goods and services have risen dramatically. Energy costs alone chew up a major part of any school's budget. Faculty and staff salaries and benefits are a substantial part of budgets as well. In order to attract and retain qualified, skilled and experience personnel, you need to offer a decent compensation package with annual increases. Most schools also offer free or substantially reduced tuition for children of faculty and staff.
Let's look at a couple of schools' tax returns or Forms 990 and analyze a few lines of expense data which they reported to the IRS. The Foundation Center keeps Forms 990 for every non-profit organization which files with the IRS. Click the links to see how much the school reported as income and expenses as well as a wealth of other data.
Note that it is frankly impossible to compare apples to apples when it comes to private schools. Even their accounting and reporting varies from school to school. But a review of the data shown above paints the same picture: costs are rising.
Another fact to consider is that tuition charged by a school does not offset expenses. That is why you will see your tuition bill filled with additional charges for technology, communications, laundry, athletics, uniforms and so on. These sundries, as the more bespoke schools style them, vary from school to school.
Is it worth it? Private schools have to spend their income wisely. They have no public funding to bail them out if they get into financial trouble. They must provide a consistently high quality service or their clients, the parents, will withdraw their children. Consequently you will find that most schools, not all of them, mind you, but most private schools are efficiently run. They economize wherever they can. Many of them are making substantial investments in what they call sustainable education in which buildings and services are made as environmentally sensitive and friendly as they can be. Despite steady tuition increase private schools remain dollar for dollar one of your better values in today's market.
Robert Knox Kennedy is a consultant who has written extensively about private schools.
How Much Do Schools Cost? Private schools charge everything from nothing at all to well over $50,000 a year for their services. Here are some examples of what the various types of private schools charge.
Paying for Private School Some people can write a check for a year's tuition and never miss it. The rest of us have to be creative. Here are some options for paying for a private school education.
Free Schools There are but a few free private schools in the United States. Most of them were founded by visionary businessmen who believed that children from working class and poor families should have the same educational advantages as children from families with money.
Scholarships Scholarships for private school students are rather limited. Most support students in their area. Here are some organizations which offer funding.