Monday, February 8, 2021

The Value of a Christian School Education: What You Get For Your Tuition Dollars at MCA

Christian schools are the only place where parents can choose an education for their child where the objectives of each academic subject is connected to Biblical truth and a Christian worldview.  Since the public school system is "religiously neutral," in theory if not necessarily in practice, parents must invest tuition and fees in order to be able to choose a Christian school for their children.  

While our main purpose is to provide a comprehensive education for students which integrates Biblical truth into academic content, we also provide an excellent education with expected student outcomes exceeding minimum state expectations.  Even though we are a small school with limited resources, over 90% of our students exceed the expected benchmarks in core subjects, compared with an average of just 40% of their public school peers, and our students score in the 70th percentile nationally on standardized achievement tests.  So even though we charge tuition and fees, your are getting excellent return and value for your sacrifice.  

Tuition and Fees Compared

The base tuition rate per student at MCA is $5,150 for the 2021-22 school term.  However, we give multi-child discounts and offer financial assistance to families who qualify, so the average tuition paid per student at MCA is about $4,425.  

The per-student, per year cost for public education in Illinois is just under $14,000 per year.  In Chicago, it is slightly higher, at $15,000.  Of course, that is taxpayer funded and inclusive of all services.  It's really an apples and oranges comparison, though in our section of Chicago, most public schools struggle to get 40% of their students to the state minimum benchmarks in math and reading while at MCA, we have more than 90% of our students meeting or exceeding benchmarks.

The average annual tuition at a private school nationally is $12,350 per students.  In the state of Illinois, is a little lower than that because many private religious based schools are Catholic or church-operated Evangelical schools.  In the city of Chicago, average private school tuition is $14,400 per student, because the city has a number of exclusive academies known for their academic success.  If you just consider church-based private schools, that figure drops to about $10,000 per year.  

In our area of Northwest Chicago, among the religious-based schools in our area that include 5 Catholic schools and 2 Lutheran schools, along with MCA, the average tuition rate is $8,150.  Comparatively, all of the schools offer similar programs, electives and activities, with MCA coming in at the lowest per-student rate of $4,425.  

So What's the Difference? 

Comparatively, our standardized test scores, 8th grade NWEA scores and high school admissions shows us coming in a little bit higher than even the other parochial schools in our part of town.  We also offer similar activities for our students.  So what keeps our costs low by comparison? 

Teacher Salary "Scholarship" Subsidies--If we paid our teachers a minimum $45,000 per year salary, which is at the low end of what public schools pay, it would increase tuition $2,275 per student per year.  So your teachers, who are all born-again Christians and who work here because they want to make a difference in the students' lives, not for the money, help make MCA affordable.  Noting that all of our teachers have a degree, certification and several have advanced degrees, they contribute to a sizeable savings for parents.  

Use of Facilities--MCA is a ministry of Midwest Bible Church.  As such, we are able to use the school facility, which includes the gym, without paying a lease.  We do cover utilities, which are really minimal next to what a lease or mortgage could run.  And unlike many church-sponsored Christian schools, our students have access to most of the church facilities as well.  Including the gym, about 40% of our space in any given year is shared.  Use of facilities combined with a lack of indebtedness on behalf of the school saves parents an additional $1,000 in tuition costs per child.  

Early Registration and Enrollment--We offer parents the opportunity to lock in a lower tuition rate and save over $500 by enrolling prior to March 31.  In exchange for a non-refundable enrollment fee and one month's tuition, MCA discounts the tuition by $500.  

Referral Scholarship--MCA families can reduce their tuition by $500 each time they refer a family to our school who winds up enrolling their children.  There is no limit to the number of these scholarships that a family can receive.  The $500 is applied to their account when the other family pays their enrollment fee.  

A Neighborhood Comparison

Each of these schools, which I have labelled "school A" and "school B" is a private, church-based school in our general neighborhood.  I am comparing the tuition and fees with MCA. 

                                    BASE TUITION     2nd CHILD DISCOUNT        ED FEE/ENROLLMENT

MCA                                $5,150                        $1,300                              $250 by 3/31, $350 after

SCHOOL A                      $5,720                        $1,240                              $625 non-refundable

SCHOOL B                     $6,450                         $1,000                        $850 fundraising, $350 enr. 

At MCA, you are certainly getting your money's worth.  Register or re-enroll today! 


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