Regardless of whether you work within a public or private educational system, the unsustainable rise in private K-12 and both public/private university tuition costs, is cause for serious attention. This graphic, just released by the National Association of Independent Schools highlights that:
- Tuition has become less affordable even for the nation’s wealthiest families in the last decade.
- The spread between tuition increases and basic indexes of inflation like the CPI have increased since the start of the Great Recession.
College and university tuitions have similarly become ever less affordable. An admissions and financial aid officer at San Diego State University, a public former land grant college that 30 years ago cost a few hundred dollars per semester to attend, told me recently that entering freshmen this year can expect total cost to run in excess of $37,000 per year. That is close to what Stanford cost less than a decade ago and virtually assures that middle class American families have no alternative to acquiring massive debts for college. Independent day and boarding schools in the North East now charge in the region of $40,000 and $60,000 respectively.
Would anyone buy a mutual fund comprised of tuition charging schools today? No. Tuition-charging independent schools simply cannot continue on this unsustainable model. Change will require a fundamental re-imagination of the basic operating system around which schools are built. There will be many losers in the shake out that has already begun. Assuming otherwise is purely wishful thinking that ignores history, demographics, and even a high school knowledge of basic economics.