One occasionally-recurring topic here has been private boarding schools and their relationship to class and perceptions of class. As an Exeter alum who was able to attend only because of massive financial aid, I was unendingly irked to go to my expensive private college (also on financial aid) and run into kids from wealthy suburban public schools that call their tuition "property taxes" and have them presume that it was prep schools that were the morally problematic reinforcers of class privilege. The affected moral superiority of the wealthy public school parent has bothered me ever since. On the positive side, I'm always happy to tout prep schools as an avenue of social mobility. Getting into Exeter with a scholarship was the most important event in my educational-professional life, and made everything that followed it possible.
So anyway, I'm happy to see this.
Phillips Exeter Academy is offering a free boarding school education to admitted students whose families earn $75,000 or less.
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The change will take effect next fall for current and new students.
Principal Tyler Tingley says in addition to a full scholarship and room and board, the school will cover books, supplies, other mandatory fees and a computer.
"We want to be clear that money does not stand in the way of an Exeter education," Tingley said in a statement. "Students who qualify academically will find Exeter affordable."
The prestigious prep school already provides financial aid to nearly half of its 1,000 students and has a policy of offering no loans, so graduates can enter college debt free.
William Fitzsimmons, Harvard College's dean of admissions and financial aid, called the move "a very significant initiative."
"Colleges and universities depend on a pipelines that promotes opportunity and academic preparation for all students," Fitzsimmons said.
For boarding students, the full cost to attend Phillips Exeter is more than $38,000. The full cost for day students is nearly $30,000.
The school's endowment recently passed $1 billion. A recent $305 million fund raising campaign helped make the new policy possible.
(The "no loans" policy postdated me, and unfortunately was not made retroactive...)