Manhattan Private Schools More Expensive Than Harvard

Libby Kane
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New York City private schools are legendary for their excess.

In addition to the standard classroom and cafeteria, Manhattan middle schoolers (and younger) find multiple gyms, theaters, pools and art studios within school walls.

But even with these benefits, is a year at one of these schools worth more than a year at Harvard? Apparently, yes.

The New York Times reports that over the past ten years, the median first-grade tuition in Manhattan private schools has surged by 48%, over ten percentage points higher than private schools across the country, and twice as fast as tuition at an Ivy League college.

Why Is First Grade More Expensive Than College?

Charges don’t stop at tuition—school parents are asked to supplement their payments with dues for the parent’s association, tickets to fundraising galas, contributions to the annual fund and, as any parent knows, numerous incidental day-to-day costs.

Unfortunately, financial aid isn’t increasing along with the tuition. Yes, the median amount granted has increased by over $10,000 over the last ten years, but the percentage of students receiving aid to the city’s 61 private schools remains at 18.5%, the same percentage from ten years ago.

The rise in cost is due to simple supply and demand: There are far more families willing and able to pay upward of $30,000 per year, per child than there are spaces available at the city’s top private schools. In fact, in the past ten years, the number of applications to the city’s schools has jumped 32% (and only 2.4% of children without previous connections to Trinity, a top school, were accepted into kindergarten last year).

One anonymous school administrator expects annual tuition for every independent school in the city to surpass $40,000 in the next one to two years. Currently, schools such as Columbia Grammar and Preparatory and Horace Mann have some of the highest tuitions in the city ($38,340 and $37,275, respectively).

To put it in perspective, Harvard University costs $36,305 per year.

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