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​Choose-Your-Tuition 

A Model for Equitable Access and Economic Justice

 

We offer three tuition pricing options:

Sliding Scale; Standard Rate; and Pay-It-Forward.  

The Choose-Your-Tuition model represents the idea that financial resources, including income, are not and should not be the only determining factor in whether or not someone can access education/services/care/etc. 

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Equity in Education is one of our core values. Our tuition model provides the opportunity for us to live into this value. It is a tool that allows for our services to be obtained at multiple price points based on your family's circumstances. We are using this model as a means of increasing access to alternative education and as a tool of economic justice. 

 

For the system to work (meaning it increases access AND we as a business are able to sustain ourselves, pay our teachers and bills, provide awesome outdoor learning, etc.) the principles of truthfulness, respect for complexity, and accountability need to be upheld. We are not going to ask you to provide income verification in order to use our sliding scale. Instead, we trust you to be honest. Community thrives when accountability is a central value, because that is where trust grows and deep, meaningful work can be done. Our teachers deserve to get paid fairly, students deserve quality educational experiences, and families and caregivers deserve to have access to an education of their choice for their children. Our tuition model recognizes the multiple realities of economic access and privilege that exist. We invite you to join us in this journey towards greater economic justice and access.

So, how does it all work?  
 

Step 1: We ask you to examine where your family stands on the Sacrifice vs Hardship scale when considering whether you should use the Sliding Scale, Standard Rate, or Pay-It-Forward pricing model. We have also provided a few other tools below for helping determine which tuition option is right for your family. 

Step 2: Once you determine which model makes sense for your family's circumstances, please complete the Nature School Application. In the form, we'll ask you information about you and your child/ren, about the program/s you're interested in and the tuition option you would like to use. We'll reach out within a few days of receiving your application with next steps. 

Step 3: We'll offer you a tuition price according to the information you provide. Then, we'll invite you to complete the enrollment process by setting up your child's account and submit an enrollment fee, which completes your child's enrollment and holds their spot. Next, we'll share all the fun stuff like connecting you with other families and your child's teacher, important school info, how to prepare for your first day!

Sacrifice vs. Hardship

If paying for a class, product, or service would be difficult, but not detrimental, it qualifies as a sacrifice. You might have to cut back on other spending in your life (such as going out to dinner, buying coffee, or a new outfit), but this will not have a long term harmful impact on your life. It is a sacred sacrifice in order to pursue something you are called to do/have/experience. 

If, however, paying for a class, product, or service would lead to a harmful impact on your life, such as not being able to put food on the table, pay rent, or pay for your transportation to get to work, then you are dealing with hardship. 

Folks coming from a space of hardship typically qualify for our sliding scale tuition model. If you would categorize paying for our service as a sacrifice, we ask that you pay the standard rate. If none of this applies to you and you have expendable income, we ask that you consider the Pay-It-Forward price. In choosing this option, you are supporting financial accessibility for those folks lower down on the scale.

Use the Sliding Scale Fee Guidance chart below to further help evaluate which fee model to select. 

sliding scale fee guidance

If your responses are primarily in the top ⅓ of the chart, consider choosing the Pay-It-Forward model. If you land somewhere in the top middle section, select the Standard Rate model. And, if your responses were mostly in the bottom middle or bottom ⅓, consider using the Sliding Scale to determine your tuition. 

 

Here’s another way you can use these prompts to help determine the tuition model for your family:

Consider the Pay-It-Forward model if many of the following are true:

  • My families income is considered above the adequate standard of living per the Economic Policy Institute 

  • I have a degree(s) without having had loans

  • I live partially, mostly or all off unearned / gifted income

  • My family has plentiful assets, like investments

  • I received a large (over $50k) amount of money and gave/give it away

  • Someone else paid or pays my rent/mortgage 

  • I can choose to work or not

  • I choose to work part time or for less pay since I need less money/have external support

  • I own the home I  live in

  • I have investments, retirement accounts, or inherited money

  • I travel recreationally

  • I have expendable income

  • I have access to family money and resources in times of need

  • I work part time by choice

  • I have a relatively high degree of earning power due to level of education (or gender and racial privilege, class background, etc.) Even if you are not currently exercising your earning power, we ask you to recognize this as a choice.

 

Select the Standard Rate model if many of the following are true:

  • My families income is considered an adequate standard of living per the Economic Policy Institute 

  • I choose to go out to eat or drink weekly (or more).

  • My race, ethnicity, skin color or gender doesn’t impact my income

  • I can cover my basic needs + some extras regularly

  • I’m able bodied

  • I can cover my basic needs regularly

  • I have student loans for professional or post-secondary education in my current field that I work in

  • I have student loans and most people in my family have higher education

  • I have a graduate degree and am paying off my loans

  • Someone in my family explained how careers work

  • My career is stable and moving forward

  • Family has many assets, like a paid-off house and/or parents have retirement accounts

  • Family of origin has assets, like a house they are paying

 

Consider using the Sliding Scale if many of the following are true:

  • My families income is considered below the adequate standard of living per the Economic Policy Institute 

  • I’m sick or disabled and that impacts my ability to work / earn money.

  • My race, ethnicity, skin color or gender(s) does impact my income

  • I have non-optional health care costs to cover

  • I have a bachelors degree and am paying off my loans still

  • I am struggling to pay more than minimums on debt 

  • I have student loans and I was among the first in my family to go to college

  • I help my family with money

  • I support others besides my own family on my income

  • My family has few assets

  • I have no family or access to family

  • My family has no assets 

  • I have significant debt

  • I have medical expenses not covered by insurance

  • I receive public assistance

  • I have immigration-related expenses

  • I am an elder with limited financial support


At the end of the day, our Choose-Your-Tuition model thrives on trust. Trust is a pretty amazing thing.

We trust you to be honest in your assessment of your economic reality. And, you trust us to provide an awesome service at a reasonable, market aligned rate. 

 

The scale is intended to be a map, inviting each of us to take an honest inventory of our financial resources and look deeper at our levels of privilege. It is a way to challenge the status quo that continues to create economic injustice in our country and work towards economic justice on a community level. 

The Standard Rate is the actual cost it takes to provide our service. If you choose a price below this you are receiving a discount. If you choose a price above this you are helping your fellow community members!

 

The top end of the Sliding Scale is for those who are able to meet their basic needs but have little-to-no expendable income. Paying for this class may qualify as a sacrifice but it would not create hardship. The middle to lower end of the scale is for those who struggle to meet basic needs and paying for this class would be a significant hardship.

The Pay-It-Forward price is a few bucks to 30% above the actual cost of our service. That extra money goes towards supporting families who need the Sliding Scale in order to access our service. Essentially it's an opportunity to not only send your child to an awesome nature school but to also support your fellow community members while you're at it. Sweet!

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