VIRGINIA BEACH (AP) — In a souring economy, enrollment in private schools is dropping.
South Hampton Roads, with dozens of Roman Catholic, Jewish and Protestant-run schools, has been especially vulnerable to the trend.
At GatewayChristianSchool, where tuition is about $4,000, enrollment will decline around 10% this fall.
"Obviously, it's just tough times" for parents, said principal Sam Postlewaite. "Either job wages haven't gone up, or the cost of everything else is going up."
At NorfolkChristianSchools, academic dean Jane Duffey said she's seen a 20% increase in requests for additional financial aid. Enrollment is down about 2% from last year's 750 students.
Tuition at Norfolk ranges from $6,300 in elementary grades to $8,700 in the senior year.
At St. Pius X Catholic School, Sister Linda Taber, the school principal, said enrollment is steady but there is greater demand for scholarships. Tuition at St. Pius ranges from $3,600 for in-parish students to $5,100 for out-of-parish students.
"We have had people say their work hours have been cut. It's hard times," Taber said.
At Hebrew Academy of Tidewater, where annual tuition is about $10,000, the school financial officer, Heather Moore, said she's seen a big increase in requests for tuition assistance.
"I'm hearing a lot that a spouse has lost their job, they'll have to live on one income for a while," Moore said. "I'm seeing more of that than in the last 10 years."