Never do I see a more vigorous defense of the Lycee's tuition increases or financial aid program than from people who seemingly do not have any need for it, nor do they appear to have any personal experience with it. Since we first came to the school in 2005, the socioeconomic makeup of the school shifted immensely. There have always been some exceedingly wealthy families here; it is, after all, secular private school in a major city. However, there used to be far more of what the previous commenter has deemed "normal" families. These normal families are disappearing for a variety of reasons. The year before the baseline used below when 08-09 tuition was $13,100, tuition increased by 20% in one year, from $10,900 to $13,100. That year the school also went to a flat tuition structure. If a family has been at the school more than a decade, they have seen their tuition costs rise more than 80%. If you chose the school back then for the language immersion (which you were thrilled existed at a tuition you could stretch for) then you probably have a very different view about the reasonableness of the costs over time. The parents who can easily afford the Lycee and see it as a bargain in comparison to Latin et al are coming from a very different place than many of the committed and dedicated Lycee families who have expressed real frustration with what's been happening at the Lycee. As a family that *does* have to rely on financial aid to stay, we do have personal experience with what has been and is now available. And we were told that aid was over $1 million total the year before and barely reached $550,000 this year. We also learned that in our calculation of need the school considers some of our retirement account an asset; in other words we're supposed to cash out retirement to pay for some of tuition. The measures meant to help "normal" families *are not working* and the school is losing the middle-upper middle class because it has failed to create an effective plan to transition from the school it was to the one it wants to be. I haven't even spoken to the academics or character of the school--and there are many wonderful things about this place, terrific people on both the staff and in the parent community. But the way that the school is failing it's long-time families who have committed so much of our children's lives to this community is appalling.
Two of my children are attending this school. They love the school and so do we. My oldest child has completed three years at the school (she will be starting 1st grade) and my son has completed one year at the school. All of the teachers we have had have been amazing. They provided a supportive and nurturing environment that allowed our children to bond with them quickly. I really like that the Lycée seeks to instill a joy of learning in the children (as opposed to focusing narrowly on test preparation) through a diverse and engaging curriculum that includes art and singing and plenty of physical movement. We've been impressed with how quickly our children have picked up French. Our oldest child who is starting first grade this year already speaks French fluently.
Tuition has gone up a fair amount in recent years. I really hope that they can minimize future increases in tuition. I also wish that they had a better tuition discount for siblings. Currently they offer a minor tuition reduction for the third sibling, but nothing for the second sibling (or for siblings beyond the third). But I realize that a good education at a private school in Chicago is not going to be cheap, and we want those amazing teachers to be well paid. We plan to continue sending our children to the school so long as we can afford it.
Because it involves our children, I understand that some people can become overly passionate when discussing their school, but I think it is important that we stick with the facts. If we look at the changes in tuition over time (thank you Internet Archive!) we can see that the previous reviewer is incorrect. In 2008/09 high school tuition* at the LFC was $13,100. In 2016/17 it is $18,930, an increase of 44.5%. Not insubstantial, but not 70% either. Over the same period, high school tuition at Latin as gone from $23,285 to $32,535, an increase of 39.7%. And high school tuition at the Lab School has gone from $20,445 to $32,106, an increase of 57%. So the LFC increase is in the middle of this pack and overall tuition still more than $13K less than either school (not $7K as asserted below).
I don't have the details of the financial aid support offered by these schools but it stands to reason that if Lab/Latin are ~70% more expensive than the LFC, they have more total aid to give out. Based on my understanding from the School Board presentations at the LFC community meetings I attended, I don't believe it is correct to say that the financial aid pool is 50% less than previous years (I think it has remained stable or even increased) and I do know that the School has taken specific steps to try to ameliorate tuition increases for "normal" parents (e.g. by increasing the tuition charges for people who have their tuition covered by their employer as part of their expat package).
While we can all agree that tuition increases are a real problem at every level (don't get me started on college-level tuition increases), the facts make it clear that the LFC appears to be operating responsibly, at least in comparison with the other private schools mentioned here.
*I focused on comparing tuition since this was the information published on the schools' websites. It does not include additional fees for books & supplies, clubs, sports, field trips, etc. But I think one can safely assume these numbers are probably similar for the schools in question. I use the information for Latin and Lab schools because those are the schools that the reviewer originally referenced as a comparison to the LFC.
Contrary to previous reviewer tuition increases are not at a normal rate, unless you consider almost 70% increase in 8 years normal. While at the same time Financial aid pool last year was nearly 50% less than the several preceding years. It is $10-14K less than Latin, about $7k less than Lab but those schools have far superior aid support. The Lycee has been and still can be a great place, especially for language immersion, but if you can't afford a Lab or Latin price tag, you will soon be priced out. Many families like ours are wondering how long they can hang on.
I have to disagree with the previous review. The new director, who has been at the LFC for 1 year is doing a fantastic job. He has that rare combination of vision (setting out a strategy and direction for where he wants the school to be in the near and long term) and execution (identifying the actions required to achieve the vision and managing the day-to-day implementation process to get there). Along the way he has had to make some tough decisions, which obviously have not made everyone happy, but are for the long term health of the school, the improvement of the educational experience and, ultimately, the benefit of all of the students. As with almost every school at every level, tuition has gone up over the years, but the rate of increase has been reasonable and contrary to the comments below, financial aid is available to all (with a small emphasis on children of native french-speaking families, which helps ensure that the level of language skills in the school stays high and ultimately benefits the non-native french speaking children). Finally, it should be noted that the tuition is approximately 50% less (!) than Parker or Latin while at the same time providing the children with a very rigorous academic curriculum (French Bac, OIB and IB), placing students at top schools in the US, Canada and Europe. If you are interested in your child developing strong language skills (many children graduate fluent in 3 languages), an appreciation of foreign culture and a world view that can be lacking at many more traditional American schools, all under the umbrella of a broad and rigorous academic program, the LFC is a great place.
My son has been at the school for over 10 years. He is fluent in French, speaks Spanish and has taken Latin as well. For those that are expecting an American school taught in French, this is simply not the place for them. The entire school is French - from attitude to language. Its actually what makes it great. Also, there is no religion shoved down the kids' throats. The school has a wonderful new building and now offers three different high school programs. If you want to set your kids apart from the masses and the usual suspects of Chicago schools, this is the place for you.
When students are left alone dealing with adversity, the teachings are taking a back seat, and that's not good.The methods are archaic in many respects and the pessimism and lack of enthusiasm from the staff makes the CPS school system look awesome
The school has a hard time with dealing with bullying, and prefers to close their eyes on situations until they become hard to deal with. In that process, students may get the feeling of injustice and grow fearful of others