Executive Summary

According to data collected by the state, Michigan has 601 private schools that enroll about 113,000 students — about 7 percent of all students in the state. All but 14 of Michigan’s 84 counties have at least one private school operating within their boundaries. Despite the fact that private schools in Michigan are widespread, there is very little publicly available information about them. In response to this need, the Mackinac Center, with the help of the Michigan Association of Nonpublic Schools, conducted a survey of private school administrators from all across the state.

The survey obtained unique responses from 334 private schools, just over 50 percent of all private schools in the state. The information provided in this report is based off of this survey, but also includes information from the small amount of data that is collected by the state’s Center for Educational Performance and Information. Below are some selected results:

  • Because private school students obtain their education primarily without the use of public funds, Michigan’s annual per-pupil foundation allowance appropriation is about $750 million less than it would have to be if those students attended public schools instead.
  • The average tuition rate for private schools in Michigan is about $4,700 per year for elementary and middle school students and about $7,800 per year for high school students.
  • If Michigan created a voucher or tuition tax credit program to make private schools affordable for more families, 71 percent of schools said that they would likely participate.
  • Michigan’s private schools have capacity right now to serve approximately 21,000 more students than they currently do.
  • Enrollment in private schools fell by about 9 percent from 2010 to 2015.
  • About 82 percent of private school teachers hold a valid Michigan teaching certificate, and 98 percent of private school teachers have either a teaching certificate or bachelor’s degree.

In addition to providing more detailed data about the results just presented, this report contains information about private schools with regards to their student demographics, geographic locations, religious affiliations, accreditation and use of “shared-time” programs (partnering with public school districts) and dual enrollment, among other things. These survey results should be of interest to policymakers, school administrators, taxpayers and families considering enrolling their children in private schools.