What's the first thing to go when you're an out-of-work Wall Streeter cutting costs from the family budget? Your kids' education, apparently. Enrollment at Manhattan's top private schools is expected to drop dramatically next year as even wealthy parents think twice about shelling out $30,000 (or more) on annual tuition. At Trinity, 45 families have already given notice that they'll be leaving at the end of the year. Other schools are reporting that parents have been demanding discounts and/or haggling for more financial aid in recent weeks.
The exodus is good news for parents who haven't been battered by the financial crisis and who also happen to have not-so-smart kids they need to educate. Admission requirements are expected to drop as schools increasingly look to parents who can write checks that won't bounce. And it's not entirely tragic news for the coddled kids who will be uprooted from the posh schools where they've spent their formative years. Parents aren't pulling their kids out of Trinity to, say, dump them at Joan of Arc, the public junior high school up the street. Many say they're simply making plans to relocate given the decline of the economy. So their kids will just have to worry about fitting in at a giant suburban high school in northern New Jersey and get used to spending their weekends at the mall.