Groton School has reached an important strategic milestone, achieving the lowest tuition among forty peer schools after a mission-focused initiative that spanned the past eight years and continues today. Groton aspired not only to hold down costs for families, but also to demonstrate that tuition containment is compatible with excellence and long-term financial sustainability.
In 2014–15, with Groton’s tuition at #1—the highest in the peer group—Headmaster Temba Maqubela and Groton’s Board of Trustees took action, adopting the GRoton Affordability and INclusion (GRAIN) initiative. One of GRAIN’s priorities is containing tuition without compromising programming, personnel, or facilities.
“Eight years ago, we set out on a path to change how we view tuition revenue,” said Headmaster Maqubela. “Rather than relying on tuition increases for full-pay families and revenue from existing endowment funds to increase scholarships, we embarked on this journey called GRAIN, relying instead on robust fundraising. At the beginning it was an uncertain path, but we set out with resolve, conviction, and confidence that we would succeed.”
GRAIN began with a three-year tuition freeze, followed by four annual increases of 1.5 percent and a 1.45 percent increase for 2022–23. Boarding tuition for 2022–23 is $59,995. Since GRAIN was adopted, Groton has kept tuition increases significantly lower than increases in operating costs. Between 2014–15 and 2021–22, Groton’s tuition went up a total of $3,440, while other peer schools saw tuition rise between about $8,700 and $16,000.
“I am grateful for the leadership of our headmaster and the trustees, past and present, who made the commitment to inclusion, affordability, and belonging for all,” said Board of Trustees President Benjamin Pyne ’77, P’12, ’15. “I am also grateful to the many donors who supported our vision and made this journey possible. As a result, Groton is a leader and a role model for what is possible for educational institutions.” The school, he added, is financially stronger today than it was when it relied more heavily on tuition increases. Groton learned that it reached its tuition ranking milestone on the day that it welcomed new students, after its most competitive admission season ever, with an 8 percent acceptance rate.
“I am delighted that Groton has achieved the objectives we set out when we launched the ambitious GRAIN initiative,” said Jonathan Klein P'08, '11, '18, who was Board of Trustees president when GRAIN was adopted. “The school is truly need-blind. Thank you to our headmaster, the teams that have worked hard on this ground-breaking program, and to the many donors who made it possible.”
GRAIN represented not only a formal commitment to resist spiraling tuition for Groton, but also a commitment to buck the trend of escalating tuition seen throughout secondary schools and colleges. “GRAIN is about inclusion,” said Mr. Maqubela. “The focus on affordability and the commitment to increase financial aid give every student a greater sense of belonging.”