School Choice & Charters

Q&A: What Is Driving up Tuition at Private Schools?

By Arianna Prothero — September 23, 2014 1 min read
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This post has been updated.

In a Q&A with the president of the National Association of Independent Schools, Education Week opinion blogger Peter Gow checks in with John Chubb now that he has a year under his belt as the head of NAIS.

In the first part of a two-part Q&A, Gow asked Chubb about the issue of fast-rising tuition among private or independent schools.

Here’s an excerpt from their conversation:

PG. As nearly everyone has noted, the current independent school price model seems insupportable in the long term; already tuition increases have run substantially ahead of the cost of living. You've visited many NAIS member schools, and you must be beginning to get a pretty good picture of the current situation. What do you see as driving these higher costs, and do you believe they are always, or even generally, fully justified in the context of the educational services schools are providing? Are there controllable factors that drive up costs without adding equivalent value? JC. The rising cost of an independent school education is undeniable. Tuitions and net tuitions (after financial aid) have risen much faster than median family income and faster even than the incomes of higher earning families. Enrollment in independent schools is therefore softening--parent inquiries down substantially, applications down somewhat and enrollment off slightly, supported by higher rates of admission. As I traveled the country last year, school leaders and other members of the independent school community expressed deep and widespread concern with these developments--that have not abated five years after the great recession...

Chubb goes on to say that NAIS is sponsoring research to understand what’s driving up rising tuition. You can read the full conversation here.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Charters & Choice blog.