Monday, January 30, 2012

Bracing for $40,000 at City Private Schools

As someone who's paying three of these tuitions, I wasn't surprised to read about the soaring tuitions at NYC's elite private schools:

Over the past 10 years, the median price of first grade in the city has gone up by 48 percent, adjusted for inflation, compared with a 35 percent increase at private schools nationally — and just 24 percent at an Ivy League college — according to tuition data provided by 41 New York City K-12 private schools to the National Association of Independent Schools.

Indeed, this year's tuition at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory ($38,340 for 12th grade) and Horace Mann ($37,275 for the upper school) is higher than Harvard's ($36,305).


Despite the 48% increase in the past decade, I'd bet that tuition payments account for a lower percentage of total income for the majority of families whose kids attend these schools, as incomes for these families have gone up more than 48%.  These schools serve the top 1% (in many cases, the top 1/100th of 1%), who have been doing awfully well.  I couldn't find apples-to-apples 10-year data, but from 1979-2007:

average inflation-adjusted after-tax income grew by 275 percent for the 1 percent of the population with the highest income. For others in the top 20 percent of the population, average real after-tax household income grew by 65 percent.

By contrast, the budget office said, for the poorest fifth of the population, average real after-tax household income rose 18 percent.

And for the three-fifths of people in the middle of the income scale, the growth in such household income was just under 40 percent.

- Source: Congressional Budget Office (


So, it's perfectly rational from a supply-demand/economic perspective for these schools to raise tuition the way they have and invest in every conceivable facility and class.  Whether it's a good thing from a societal perspective – it certainly further widens the distance between the top 1% and everyone else – is another matter… 


Bracing for $40,000 at City Private Schools

The Dalton School costs $36,970 a year and offers Zen Dance.

Published: January 27, 2012

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