Cornerstone to implement tuition plan based on families’ income

Cornerstone Christian School is currently moving to a tuition plan based on families’ income, according to Director of School Operations Jay Adams.

Adams, who has been the school’s leader for slightly more than a month, said a move towards an income-based tuition structure would give more students the opportunity to attend Cornerstone.

“People can only pay what they can pay, and it’s unreasonable to expect them to pay any more than that,” Adams said.

He said he expects some will dislike the plan, but expects most families to understand the school also has a role as a ministry.

“I think the bulk of our families view the school as we do — as a ministry — and understand the financial realities of where we’re located,” Adams said. “I think a school with competitive enrollment naturally improves the quality of the student it produces, simply because it’s easier to be choosy when there’s a waiting list.”

He said all students who continue their education would eventually see such a program.

“Every college in the universe operates a financial assistance program for qualified students with documented financial needs, so this is something every student eventually encounters,” Adams said.

The school will use a Nebraska-based company, FACTS, to assess each family’s ability to pay. School officials already use FACTS, which has a branch in Atlanta, for tuition management services.

To assess each family’s ability to pay, FACTS will collect financial information from families, verified with tax records. That information will be measured against demographic data and cost-of-living information to assess each family’s financial ability.

“I’m sure some families will find they actually can afford private education — they’re just choosing not to — and the objectivity of a third-party assessment will make it much easier for our board to identify who actually needs help,” Adams said.

Adams said his main goal is filling empty seats and bringing in revenue.

“My initial research showed that we averaged about 70 empty seats per year. If we had filled those seats at half-price, we’d have brought in around $700,000 over those four years,” he said. “I’m not capable of ignoring the potential of hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue.”

Adams said he wants private school education to be more accessible for community residents.

“I hope this removes the stigma of elitism that’s often attached to private education,” he said. “Cornerstone is a school that longs to open its doors to anyone that’s interested in a different way of doing education — small, local and community-based. Hopefully, this is further proof of that intent.”

School officials plan to approach local businesses to offer sponsorship opportunities.

Those interested in applying to Cornerstone Christian can go to Factstuitionaid.com, create an account and search for the school by the zip code.