Data about the socioeconomic status of public school students is available from CEPI, but similar data for private school students is limited. This survey asked private school administrators about the socioeconomic status of their students and 266 schools (80 percent of survey sample) responded. Specifically, the survey asked what percentage of enrolled students are eligible for a federally subsidized free or reduced-priced lunch, indicating that their family income is at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level.[5]

As shown in Graphic 6, Michigan’s private schools enroll fewer FRPL-eligible students than public schools. More than three-quarters of private schools have fewer than 25 percent FRPL-eligible students. The average private school serves a student body that is comprised of just 10 to 15 percent of low-income students. This finding should not be all that surprising given that private schools need to charge tuition in order to fund their operations, and with no publicly funded support for low-income families available, only families wealthy enough to afford these tuition payments (or fortunate enough to receive a scholarship) are able to enroll their children in private schools. Variation among private schools on this account does exist, nevertheless, with some schools serving student bodies where more than 75 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.

Graphic 6: Percent Free and Reduced-Price Lunch Population by School Type

Graphic 6