The Montessori Schools in Flatiron and SoHo — an elite school for students ages 3 to 6 — accepts payments in bitcoin for its $31,900 per year tuition.
“A lot of our parents are in the technology field, so we did get about a handful of parents over the course of about a year that would mention, ‘Hey, will you ever accept bitcoin?’ And that led me to look into the space a little bit more, pay attention to it, learn about it,” co-founder Marco Ciocca told Yahoo Finance in a telephone interview.
The school’s educational program is built upon the classical methods of Dr. Maria Montessori. A lot of today’s leading technologists — including Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Jeff Bezos — at some point attended a Montessori school.
“So, for us, accepting this kind of new technology that builds on mathematics is in line with our philosophy,” Ciocca said.
The school, which has a student body of just over 300 kids, began accepting bitcoin in spring. Five parents paid in the cryptocurrency for the current school year, and Ciocca expects that number to double next fall.
“We’re just wrapping up admissions for next year, and already two have already paid in bitcoin, but again, we haven’t even given out all of our acceptances yet. I suspect that number five will probably double for this coming school year if not more, just on account of all the press bitcoin is getting. And it seems like a lot more people are in it than last year.”
Bitcoin (BTC) was trading around $2,000 when the school started accepting the cryptocurrency. The price of a bitcoin was last trading around $10,500 on Friday. At that price, tuition today is just over three bitcoin.
The Montessori Schools have a merchant account through Coinbase. For the first $1 million in payment collection, there’s no fee. After that, it’s 1%. What’s more, the school doesn’t hold onto the payments as bitcoin. It instantly converts to US dollars.
For parents who have held bitcoin for a long time, one could argue they’re paying tuition at a discounted price.
“You know even given the volatility, if I tell you on a Tuesday and send you an invoice and you don’t pay until Thursday, my invoice will say it’s for $5,000. On Thursday, you’re still going to transfer the required amount of bitcoin for $5,000, so I don’t have any exposure to speculation or any big appreciation or depreciation of the bitcoin. It’s really just another form of payment,” said Ciocca.
Speaking of payments, bitcoin has yet to become an option for payroll.
“It might. Maybe in the next handful of years, but at this point, it’s just kind of watercooler talk.”
Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.