GRoton Affordability and INclusion

In November 2014, Groton School announced a groundbreaking affordability initiative known as GRAIN—GRoton Affordability and INclusion. Spearheaded by Headmaster Temba Maqubela and formally embraced by the Board of Trustees, GRAIN cemented the school’s commitment to making Groton accessible to families in all income brackets, including those neither high- nor low-income.
GRAIN froze tuition for three years, through the 2017–18 school year; increased the number of students on financial aid; and guaranteed that Groton School would consider all applicants without regard to their ability to pay. Groton’s Board of Trustees has deemed GRAIN the school’s number-one strategic priority.

Inclusion Scholars

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    GRoton Affordability and INclusion (GRAIN) is ensuring that Groton School does not turn away applicants for financial reasons.

    GRAIN will increase the number of students on financial aid by at least twenty over four years, adding five per year, and the school will maintain that number thereafter. Five financial aid students admitted each year are called Headmaster's Inclusion Scholars, an honor beyond their admittance to Groton.
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    GRAIN and the school’s broader focus on affordability and inclusion rest upon Groton’s desire to be a community based on fairness and equal opportunity, and upon an overarching goal to provide students with the best secondary school education possible. “Inclusion in all respects, including socioeconomic inclusion, is an important ingredient of an outstanding education,” says Groton School Headmaster Temba Maqubela, who has stressed the importance of an inclusive community since joining the school in July 2013.
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Groton’s Board of Trustees recognized that tuition at Groton, like tuition at so many independent schools, colleges, and universities, was spiraling out of control. Groton’s leaders were determined to contain tuition growth, and to inspire others to consider doing the same.

After one year of the three-year freeze, Groton’s tuition retreated from the #1 to the #14 position among peer schools, and after the second year of the freeze, tuition was at #29. After the third year of the freeze, Groton's tuition ranked #37 among forty peer schools.

Underlying the board discussions was recognition that while freezing tuition has a cost, so does raising tuition. “A tuition freeze isn’t a cost, it is a forgone revenue opportunity.” says Groton School Trustee William Gray P’15. “Raising tuition has a more important opportunity cost, in the form of a more restricted applicant pool.”

Who Will Be at Groton Tomorrow?

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    In the 2015–16 school year, Groton School welcomed the first group of students admitted under GRAIN, including several who would not have been able to attend without the additional support that GRAIN provides. Under the GRAIN model adopted by the Board of Trustees, by the fourth year of the initiative, twenty students—of the school's 380—will be at Groton because of GRAIN, in addition to those previously receiving generous financial aid funds.
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  • What's motivating the GRAIN initiative?

    Groton School’s aim always has been to provide its students with the best education possible. The more perspectives and backgrounds, the more broadening the experience and the better the education. As Headmaster Temba Maqubela has said, “Inclusion in all respects, including socioeconomic inclusion, is an important ingredient of an outstanding education.”
  • With so many applicants, why freeze tuition?

    At Groton and most schools, tuition had skyrocketed out of control, and the cost of a top education had substantially outpaced the growth in household incomes. GRAIN’s tuition freeze reins in the cost while providing aid to students from a wide range of income brackets. 
  • Will GRAIN help fund international families?

    Yes, Groton has long offered financial aid to international students, though most aid goes to American students.
  • How is Groton paying for this?

    Gifts are an important source of funding for this long-term initiative. Other funding strategies include a temporary increase in the school’s endowment draw, which will remain conservative, and a new category of “Captains-level” giving within the Groton Fund, through which individuals can pay the difference between the cost of tuition and the actual cost of a Groton education. Currently, a Captains-level gift is $35,500.
  • Are budget cuts planned to help with funding?

    No. The trustees have made it clear that GRAIN will not affect faculty or staff compensation; academic, residential, or other programming; or any day-to-day school functions.
  • How much has been raised so far?

    $52 million. We expect our endowment draw to revert to pre-GRAIN levels over time.


The GRAIN announcement generated considerable attention among applicants and other independent school leaders. Applications to Groton increased from both financial aid and full-pay families (bucking a national trend that shows declining applications from those who can afford full tuition). The total number of applications to Groton for the 2015–16 school year was about 8 percent higher than the number submitted for the previous year. The school’s acceptance rate has remained among the most selective at about 12 percent. GRAIN has equalized admittance rates for financial aid and full-pay applicants. 

GRAIN has sparked discussion about affordability at other boarding schools—another goal of the Groton initiative. At least one other school did not raise tuition between 2014–15 and 2015–16, and many are discussing ways to contain tuition and increase middle-income representation.

In addition, Groton's extended community supported the GRAIN announcement with enthusiasm. Alumni, parents, and friends responded with notes of pride and support. Among their comments: “What a visionary and transformational concept ... Well done Groton. This would be an easy issue for the school to ignore ... This is a game-changer for Groton ... You are showing true leadership ... makes me proud to be a graduate.”
Groton School is a diverse and intimate community devoted to inspiring lives of character, learning, leadership, and service.
Groton School is recognized as one of America's top boarding schools. It prepares students in grades 8-12 for the "active work of life."