Head of School Blog - Thinking About School
The Strength of Variable Tuition
We invest in education because we know that learning shapes our children's lives. Given how advances in technology, communication and transportation are transforming borders, cultures, and ideologies across the world, one could argue that it has never been more important that students be part of a school community that draws its members from a rich and diverse set of circumstances. After talking with many of you over the years, I know that the promise of this diversity is a key factor in why you chose Wooster School for your family.
Wooster has a proud history of being a place that works hard to welcome as many families as possible from across our region's socioeconomic spectrum. Day by day, we do everything we can to maintain a culture of welcome and equality among our students, faculty, and parents. We teach that an understanding of each individual's story is the key to relationships and mutual understanding. We stress that diversity, inclusion, and access are key elements of any meaningful community of thinkers and learners in America and are key to the survival of our nation itself - it's core to the social justice we teach.
At present, Wooster is living up to the charge set forth by our founder, Aaron Coburn, when he said that we should ask, "from each according to ability, and give to each according to need." We currently commit 27% of our operating budget to tuition assistance, with over 40% of our families paying tuition below our stated tuition levels. We are proud to be an independent school leader in this regard throughout Fairfield and Westchester counties.
Across the board, all of our families are making great sacrifices to have their students attend Wooster regardless of the actual amount of tuition that they pay. Our system is, in fact, set up to try and find that tuition amount that is the right fit for each family. In effect, the amount that each family pays represents an appropriate commitment of precious dollars given that family's unique financial circumstances. No matter the level paid, all are making a sacrifice in the present and an investment in the future of their family's children.
On our campus, students come together as equals and we commit to maximizing their potential regardless of socioeconomic background. The great news is that it works!
I am sharing these thoughts because starting this year, as an institution, we are moving away from the term "financial aid" in favor of "variable tuition" to better reflect our practice and our purpose. This semantic shift aligns the program more clearly with our core values, and will allow us to communicate our philosophy - and "the numbers" that make it work - more clearly to prospective families. The admissions process and our process for assessing a family's financial resources will remain substantially the same.
Over the next several weeks, you can expect to see a brochure and a video which explain our approach. I hope that after you've seen them you will share them with friends, colleagues, and neighbors who might be missing out on being a part of the Wooster community because they are unaware of our variable tuition philosophy.
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