A new in-depth report from the New York Times reveals that some of the city’s most desirable private elementary and high schools are now charging more than Harvard does for a year’s tuition. (The yearly tuition at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School is already above $38,000, while Harvard still charges a comparably paltry $36,000.) Imagine that — private schools are expensive! How utterly surprising.
All joking at the Times’ expense aside, it is admittedly ridiculous to have to spend, in some cases, $40,000 a year to send your child to a good school. What’s more, that $40K price tag usually doesn’t even include additional education-related expenses, like books, transportation, and field trips.
When it comes to justifying tuition increases, many schools turn to the oft-repeated line that tuition at a private school only covers about 80 percent of the actual cost of a child’s education. But the real story lies in admissions. With yearly applicants up 32 percent over the past decade (according to the New York State Association of Independent Schools), private schools simply know that they can continue to raise tuition without fear of being unable to fill their classrooms.
Most school administrators the Times spoke to blamed higher tuition costs on rising teacher salaries, benefits, and renovation costs for older buildings. Additionally, they cited ever-expanding extra-curricular programs, which parents often demand to give little Johnny the best possible chance at an Ivy-league diploma down the line.
Indeed, some of these elite schools offer classes such as Mandarin, Zen Dance, and “The Nature of Revenge.” This is not by itself unusual for prep schools. In fact, this blogger admits to attending a Hawaii prep school that also offered Mandarin, and a course called “A Search For Meaning.” However, tuition there is still hovering around $17,000 per year. Perhaps New York parents are simply more willing to pay more, especially when the only other option is the city’s bureaucratic public school system.
And anyway, at least when you send your kid to Columbia Grammar, unlike Harvard, you don’t also have to worry about your money going toward binge-drinking on the weekend.