Affording Private High School


PromYou can’t tell by looking at me, but I was fortunate enough to graduate from one of the best high schools in my hometown.  It was an all-boys Catholic school run the Jesuits.  We had religion class every day.  The school was so highly regarded that the daily Catholic religion class wasn’t a deal-breaker for my two Jewish classmates Scott and Joel.  I’m sure their folks told them, “Jesus was a Jew.  He was a great guy.  Maybe not ‘Son of God’ great, but… do your best”

Fast forward over 30 years.  My nephew is heading to my old high school this week for his freshman year.  When I was a freshman during the Carter administration, the price tag was $1,150/ year.  Using this calculator to factor in inflation, that is $4,209 in today’s dollars.  But the tuition has jumped to $13,320 for my nephew.  That is more than triple what one might expect!

Can A Kid Pay His Own Way?


Back in my day, many of my classmates paid for their tuition with part time jobs.  That won’t cut it today.  For my Ohio school, tuition has gone up almost 12 times, but minimum wage has barely tripled (from $2.65 to $8.10).  Although today’s $8.10 wage is higher, it doesn’t go as far today than it was when I was in high school.  Using this inflation calculator, we see that buying something for $2.65 in 1978 would cost $9.70 today.

The idea that a kid can completely pay for his own private high school is not realistic.

  • In 1978, a kid would have to work 434 hours at $2.65 an hour to gross $1,150. Over a 10 month school year, that kid would work about 11 hours per week to gross $1,150.
  • In 2015, a kid would have to work 1,645 hours at $8.10 an hour to gross $13,320. Over a 10 month school year, that kid would work about 38 hours per week to gross $13,320.

If a 2015 student only worked the 11 hours the 1978 student did, he’d have to earn almost $31 per hour.  I don’t think there are any $31/hour part time jobs.  If that job was a 40 hour a week job, 52 weeks a year, he’d get paid $64,480 a year.  Dare I say those jobs do not go to high school students.  Of course, I’m not even factoring in taxes.

Financial Aid

  • The first step is to ask the school what kind of Tuition Assistance program they have.  Programs are often needs based.  My school says “…approximately 35% of students are receiving some amount of tuition assistance. The average amount granted was approximately $6,000.”
  • Ask if your child qualifies for any partial scholarships.
  • Ask if your school has a “Work/Study” program which allows a student to do things at school to decrease tuition.

I don’t know about you, but I get more out of something if I pay for it.  When I have skin in the game, I am invested.  I care more about it.  But in 2015, part time work alone isn’t going to get you there.



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