Private Schools

School Bucks Tide With Tuition Freeze

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With the costs of attending many independent schools climbing sky-high, one Boston school has declared a year off from boosting tuition.

Early this year, the Roxbury Latin School said it would freeze tuition at $17,900 for the 2007-08 academic year.

Kerry P. Brennan, the school’s headmaster, said that even though this figure is less than what many independent schools in the area charge, he worries that the cost was getting too much for middle-class families.

“It’s still a daunting figure,” he said. “And sometimes people who would benefit from our school and contribute to it are simply ignoring us,” because they think the price is so high.

He said the tuition freeze may well have spurred greater generosity from donors: Annual giving rose 35 percent, to $2.3 million in the fiscal year ending last summer. For the first time, all families of current students gave to the annual fund drive. Alumni also stepped up giving. “I think the alumni saw us keeping faith with the school they love,” Mr. Brennan said.

Across New England, the median tuition at independent schools is $21,268 at the 8th grade and $25,300 at the 12th grade, says the Washington-based National Association of Independent Schools. Roxbury Latin serves grades 7-12.

For independent schools nationally, tuition costs between January 2002 and June 2007 rose by about 12 percent at the 8th and 12th grades in inflation-adjusted dollars, the NAIS says. Nearly 20 percent of independent school students get need-based aid.

Mr. Brennan said a key reason his school has kept tuition down is that “it’s always been a school that relied on financial discipline. We’re not a fancy school by any means.”

Still, Mr. Brennan said that the school, founded in 1645, places a priority on paying teachers well. The median salary is $100,000. The school has a large endowment, $140 million, which helped in being able to freeze tuition.

Myra A. McGovern, a spokeswoman for the NAIS, said many schools have struggled with how to keep their schools affordable for a broad spectrum of families.

“Sustainable financing is really a major issue for independent schools, and schools are looking at the issue from a variety of different angles,” she said.

See Also
See other stories on education issues in Massachusetts. See data on Massachusetts' public school system.

Vol. 27, Issue 11, Page 7

Published in Print: November 7, 2007, as School Bucks Tide With Tuition Freeze

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