During Covid, more families are switching from public education to private school

Until the pandemic, many families in the United States were excluded from private schooling because of the cost.

But as the coronavirus crisis continued, parents increasingly looked for schools that were more personal than remote – and for many, that meant moving to an independent facility regardless of price.

“I see unprecedented interest from the public school community in gaining access to private schools,” said Emily Glickman, president of Abacus Guide Educational Consulting in New York.

Reports of significant academic learning losses in school districts across the country highlighted concerns about the impact of virtual learning on education at all levels.

At the same time, private schools, which tend to have larger locations, smaller classes, and greater autonomy, often showed more flexibility in reopening.

As a result, families were able to send their children to school personally, which eased the burden on parents and, in many cases, allowed them to go to work or seek employment from home.

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According to a recent survey by EdChoice, 41% of parents were more likely to prefer private education for their children after the pandemic, although actual enrollment patterns did not necessarily match their preferences.

Of course, the private school has its price. Overall, the average cost of tuition in private schools at all grade levels is $ 26,866 per year, according to the National Association of Independent Schools.

Private school enrollment before the pandemic had slowly declined. There are currently around 50.8 million students enrolled in public schools, compared with 5.8 million students in private schools, according to the Ministry of Education.

Families are now finding that financial aid gives them access to schools that they would otherwise not be able to afford.

Just over a quarter of all families receive financial aid, the National Association of Independent Schools said, and the average package of aid per student over the 2020-21 period was $ 19,240, down from $ 18,717 last year and $ 17,727 in 2018-19.

“Interest in grants has definitely increased,” said Myra McGovern, a spokeswoman for the organization.

In response, “schools that used most of their financial support earlier this year are considering ways to provide more,” she said.

Some states have even strengthened it to improve access. For example, in New Hampshire, Republican Governor Chris Sununu announced that he would be distributing $ 1.5 million in CARES Act funds to organizations that provide scholarships to private elementary, middle and high schools.

Florida’s Step Up for Students offers private school scholarships for low-income families in Florida. In April, the state passed law to raise income eligibility to nearly $ 100,000 for a family of four for the 2021-22 school year.

Many families assume that a private school is beyond their means.

Janet Wolfe

Headmaster at Ideal School in Manhattan

“Many families assume that a private school is beyond their means,” said Janet Wolfe, principal at Ideal School in Manhattan, where tuition for the 2021-22 school year is just under $ 50,000.

Ideal recently launched a new undergraduate scholarship program with a 75% reduction in tuition fees. One of the program’s goals is to involve students from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, Wolfe said.

“We are excited to expand our outreach to the community and offer more avenues to independent schooling, especially at this challenging time.”

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