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A recent survey by the National Coalition of Girls' Schools found that all of the 25 girls' schools surveyed have experienced an increase in financial donations, especially by alumnae, in the past five years.

Cash gifts from alumnae at St. Scholastica Academy in Canon City, Colo., for example, jumped 83 percent between 1991-92 and 1992-93. The number of alumnae donating to the school rose 72 percent in that same year.

Between the 1991-92 school year and this school year, parental inquiries into girls' schools increased 19 percent, and applications climbed 37 percent, according to the coalition. During that period, enrollment jumped 4 percent, from 21,380 to 22,254.

Some girls'-school advocates attribute the increased interest to the debate over gender equity in coeducational schools, spurred in large part by a 1992 American Association of University Women report, "How Schools Shortchange Girls.''

A survey of nuns shows that the number of Roman Catholic women in religious orders is dwindling rapidly as nuns grow older.

A recent Los Angeles Times poll of 1,049 nuns throughout the United States and Puerto Rico found the median age for the Catholic nuns to be 65.

Just 3 percent of the nuns were 40 or younger, 37 percent were older than 70, and 12 percent were older than 80.

A quarter of those surveyed listed education as their primary assignment.

In 1993, there were 94,022 nuns in the United States, compared with 106,912 in 1988 and 181,421--the peak figure--in 1966.

The National Association of Independent Schools has published a new book on financial issues, Access and Affordability: Strategic Perspectives for Independent Schools.

The book addresses how schools can provide an excellent education while remaining financially accessible to a variety of students.

It includes a recent history of tuitions and financial aid in independent schools, an affordability index, and a process through which a school can examine its allocation of resources in relation to its mission.

The book is available for $18 (N.A.I.S. members) and $22 (nonmembers) from the N.A.I.S., 1620 L St., N.W., Washington D.C. 20036-5606; (202) 973-9749.

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