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carpe-diem.jpgIn a piece for SmartMoney (The Private School Pinch), Neil Parmer makes the case for the current private school admission cycle as a buyers opportunity. He doesn't sugar coat the costs but he makes the case for- and provides ideas and examples- of the negotiating and buying opportunities available to parents.

Boarding and private schools need to fill their seats and beds and are open to all sorts of considerations, strategies and questions from parents regarding tuition- ideas and discussions that schools wouldn't have entertained just a year ago.

Schools are doing their parts trimming and containing costs and tuition and they are willing to work with parents under the same pressures.

"...But look around the country these days and you'll see that admissions math is in flux...

Recession specials have also been cropping up at schools around the country, with tuition discounts reported as high as 20 percent...

And while you won't see "bartering" listed in any of its official financial-aid literature, the Westover School in Middlebury, Conn., has allowed a couple of folks to do just that. According to the school's head, Ann Pollina, several parents at the all-girls college prep have traded their professional services -- as technology and business-efficiency consultants -- for a little tuition relief...

In the past, of course, it's been the parents who have had to go to great lengths to get their children into the more elite schools. But since the economy went south, the game has changed; now it's the schools that are having to hustle -- and maybe even lower their standards. Instead of waiting for the applications to roll in, more are forced to actively beat the bushes, consultants say, to fill spots that have opened midyear. Even in the most competitive markets, there's talk of more "brokering" going on..." (SmartMoney)

If you're considering boarding or private school for student, an opportunity may be at hand.

Photo credit: Randy OHC

If you believe in a boarding or independent school and you can afford to make a financial contribution, give now. Independent schools- just as colleges and universities- are working through endowment decreases and pressure. With increased financial aid demand, creating an even greater strain on institutional savings and finances.

If independent school is part of your or your family's nature and you can do it, make sure to make any gift possible this year.

The New York Times recently ran a piece titled "Colleges Ask Donors to Help Meet Demand for Aid." The higher ed situation and independent school situations are similar.

"Faced with one of the most challenging fund-raising environments anyone can remember, colleges and universities are appealing to donors to help meet the swelling demand for financial aid...

The incoming student body for the fall of 2009 will have higher financial needs than in the past," said Clay Ballantine, Hampshire's chief advancement officer. "I tell donors these are excellent students and we want to take financial concerns out of their decision-making process, and we're looking to you to provide a gift that will help us do that."

Photo credit: vanhookc

Ross School Offers Merit Scholarships

File this under the 'fantastic opportunity' category.

Ross School in Bridgehampton, NY "is offering $20,000 annual Merit Scholarships for students in grades 5-11 who demonstrate academic achievement and exceptional promise" in a number of areas.

Have a demonstrated talent for the Arts, Athletics, Community Service, Math, Media, Music (Jazz), Science, or Theater? This may be an opportunity to explore if you answered yes to any one of these categories.

I heard about this a bit late in the day (I read about it in the Independent Educational Consultants Association April/May Insights newsletter)- the deadline is May 1 and applications received post-May 1 will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

If you're interested, you can learn more on the school's site or submit an inquiry to school's admission office through their AQ admission inquiry form.

Boarding School Podcast Sustainablity Series

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In light of the economic downturn, school sustainability and adaptive strategies have been hot topics for a number of months. No one is spared from the realities of a shrinking economy- schools, families, students- we're all impacted.

To encourage a conversation about the options available to families and schools, AQ's Boarding School Podcast hosted a four part sustainability series featuring leaders in the private school world. Each interview provides history, current thinking and insights regarding adapting for the future. I encourage you to listen and share.

Boarding School Podcast: Sustainability Series

Boarding Schools Adapting To A Changing Environment
Pete Upham, Executive Director, The Association of Boarding Schools

The Value of Working with an Educational Consultant in a Tight Economic Climate
Mark Sklarow, Executive Director, Independent Educational Consultants Association

Exploring School Sustainability Directions & Ideas with Patrick Bassett, President, National Association of Independent Schools
Patrick Bassett, President of the National Association of Independent Schools

Approaching Financial Aid in an Economic Downturn
Martin Peyer, CEO, TADS & Jamie Miller, Director of Financial Aid, Blue Ridge School

Blue Ridge School recently added its Affordability Plan to the school's web site laying out their commitment to affordability.

It includes both philosophical and concrete examples of the school's approaches and commitment. Among other items in the Affordability Plan, Blue Ridge has increased its financial aid budget by 30% over the past two years and, one item that I really like, the school makes clear that the tuition, room and board are inclusive of all school activities- including textbooks. This is more important than it sounds; for years, many schools have used extracurriculars and books as profit centers- charging and billing for activities and bus rides.

I like Blue Ridge's willing to publish their positions and thinking. They use one of my favorite terms transparency. Transparency allows parents and families to make the best possible decisions.

A Podcast Conversation About Affording Private School in an Economic Downturn

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Addressing the admissions notification and financial aid season, we produced a podcast today discussing financial aid in tight times.

Peter spoke with Martin Peyer, CEO of Tuition Data Services and Jamie Miller, Director of Financial Aid at the Blue Ridge School. They explored financial aid and tuition payment strategies for families as they make their private school commitment for 2009-2010.

Suggestions to families include:

Opening a dialog with admission and financial aid officers at the start of the application process

Prepare to document your financial condition

Explore tuition payment plans and lending options

Ask the financial aid officers about resources. They know the foundations and sources interested in supporting their students.

Please share their commentary and suggestions as we work through then enrollment and financial aid process in this difficult environment. The episode is available below, through our Boarding School Podcast directory or AQ's iTunes channel.

Approaching Financial Aid in a Recession Download the .mp3 (Audio) (16.9 MB)

Get it on iTunes Get it on iTunes!

Exeter Addresses Lower Endowment

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In just about any other year, you'd think it would be nuts for a money manager/management team to get congratulated for having an endowment fund lose 22% of its value. 2008 was no run of the mill year for market and endowment declines.

Phillips Exeter Academy's endowment managers held loses to 22% beating the S&P 500 by 15%- a hard hit but a roaring success in light the overall market. Unwavering in its commitment to financial aid and affordability, Exeter is committed to its staff and students and is working reduce it's operating budget by 8% in the coming year.

As one of the biggest fish in the pond, Exeter will always be scrutinized. No matter what, you've got to admire and appreciate the on-the-table transparency of their situation and efforts to contain their budget.

Read more about this on the New York Time's DealBook blog post.
An odd thing during these times of declining endowment income- several New England colleges are doing OK. In a Boston Globe piece several smaller tuition driven schools report that the relationship with their students and school growth haven't yet changed much. They're used to offering good value and opportunities- funded predominately with tuition dollars. Smaller endowment income never allowed them to grow beyond defined means.

Ronald Champagne, president of Merrimack College told the Boston Globe:

"In these hard economic times, institutions that relied heavily on their endowments, like Harvard, suffered the greatest losses in terms of impact on their operating budget...In a sense, we have a blessing in disguise."
A boarding school head recently expressed similar sentiment during a conversation- explaining that he was used to covering all of his school's expenses with tuition dollars. With fewer dollars, there would of course be cuts and reductions and he's prepared several budget drafts based on varying enrollments. But, he said, the big schools who've become used to supplementing operating costs with endowment income will be pinched the hardest. In some cases, well endowed schools have developed high fixed overhead that isn't easily adjusted downward during tight times.

Experience living with one's means has it's advantages.

The number of boards and school heads addressing the tight economic climate and communicating with their constituencies honestly and directly on these matters- while not a solution- provides some measure of comfort. Tackling the issues honestly and directly beats all the options.

Michael Cooper, Brewster Academy's Head of School, sent the extended Brewster community (I'm a 1991 grad) a letter yesterday detailing a Lakes Region land gift valued at $6.3 million.

The gift, made by former Fidelity Investments President James C. Curvey and his family, consists of over 11 acres of lakefront property. The Curvey family intends the gift to provide scholarships to students in the greater Alton/Wolfeboro area.

Dr. Cooper wrote about the scholarship program and additional opportunities made possible by the gift:
 
Scholarships will go to three local students (in the greater Alton & Wolfeboro area) per year for their four years at Brewster, starting with the first three in the fall term of 2009. Ultimately, 12 students at a time will benefit from this gift.

In addition to honoring the Curvey family legacy of supporting educational opportunities for talented students, the donation expands the Academy's lakefront resources and provides the setting for more hands-on educational opportunities that will enhance current offerings such as Fresh Water Ecology, Environmental Science, Character Leadership, and other experiential learning programs.


Congrats to the folks at BA. The generosity of the Curvey family is sure to benefit the BA community over the years to come.
 

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries in the Boarding School Scholarships category.

Boarding School News is the previous category.

Boarding School Thoughts is the next category.

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