As tuition costs for both public and private universities reach record highs, the cost of sending kids to private schools in New York is rising at astronomical rates. The New York Times recently examined where that money is being spent. I am not here to justify the costs or judge the value of sending a child to these schools (I am a product of a New York City independent school). Instead, I want to highlight what's actually happening.
When a student begins at Riverdale Country Day School in Kindergarten, the parents are subjected to 13 years of paying incredibly high tuition, and that is before everything else. The cost of going to Riverdale, using them as an example solely due to the dubious distinction of being the most expensive independent school in New York, is $38,500 for Kindergarten through 5th grade. By the time one gets to 6th grade and higher, they are hit with tuition costs that reach $40,450, according to the CampusGrotto report (seen here using data from 2011-2012) that would make them the 66th most expensive college-university in the country. At the end of the day, when a parent chooses to send their kid to Riverdale from Kindergarten through 12th grade, they will have spent $514,150 on tuition alone.
While those high costs are an issue, its many parents' way of getting their children into "top schools." When looking at just how Riverdale fares matriculating their kids into top schools, the numbers are confounding. According to matriculationstats.org, 48% of its students matriculate into "top schools" (as defined by the top 25 national universities and the top 15 liberal arts colleges), and 70% matriculate into "strong schools" (as defined by the top 50 national universities and the top 30 liberal arts colleges). Those statistics are very good, but let's look at Hunter College High School, one of the top public schools in New York City. While the school features a larger class size, Hunter sends more people to "top schools" at 52.8% and more people to "strong schools" at 71.3%.
Getting back to the independent school student, what about those in the 30% that are not going to these aforementioned "strong schools?" Those students and their parents are likely still attempting to get into a "strong school" or better. To examine this, we will look at the other costs associated with sending a child to a top school. For a struggling student, an academic tutor is in order. Rates for such tutors can start at $100 an hour and increase from there. At 30 weeks of tutoring per year of one hour per week, that is $3,000 extra each year. Next comes SAT tutoring, which can be as expensive as $425 per 50 minutes from Advantage Testing. With 12 weeks of preparation for the SAT's, that is an extra $5,100 spent. All in all, for 13 years of private school tuiton, 4 years of academic tutoring and 12 weeks of SAT tutoring, $531,250 has been spent before the child steps foot on a college campus.
As prices continuously climb, the main question is, will parents continue to pay these exceeding costs. With students graduating with more and more student debt each year, one has to question whether this really helps these kids chances of getting into better schools and in turn get better jobs.With new schools such as Avenues, one of the first for-profit schools opening in New York City to cater to the increasing demand for these schools, this problem of increasing costs in private schools has no end in sight, nor is the number of new parents willing to buy into this system.