Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Spring 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Strategic Leadership Studies


Karen A. Ford

Margaret F. Sloan

William Ritchie


Private school leaders face financial sustainability challenges as competition for students and money increases. This study aims to identify financial metrics which school leaders can use for monitoring and guiding their school’s financial health. IRS Form 990 provided the financial data for calculating predictors of interest. The study evaluated data from 2009–2013 for five groupings of schools, as measured by operational size. The study included 1029 private schools after removing outliers and cases with missing data. Private school leaders helped define the dependent variable as the ratio of total revenue/total expense. Sustainable schools carried an averaged five-year ratio of greater than one and the vulnerable school ratio averaged less than one. A standard multiple regression modeled significant predictors from a pool of nine independent variables. The Mark Up variable consistently explained most of the unique variance between vulnerable and sustainable schools in every school group. The research developed a composite score model with benchmarks for school leaders to assess their school’s financial sustainability. The study also raised questions for subsequent research on private school financial sustainability.



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