Cost to Educate

Private school survey respondents provided insight into the cost to educate their students. Data from 248 private school survey respondents (77 percent of survey sample), indicated that it costs, on average, approximately $5,800 to educate a primary school student and approximately $9,200 to educate a high school student.[*] However, the cost to educate a private school student varied widely from school to school, as is evident by Graphic 9. At both the primary and secondary levels, some private schools reported that it cost less than $1,500 per student per year, while others indicated it cost nearly $20,000.

Graphic 9: Private School Estimated Cost to Educate One Student for One School Year

Graphic 9

Tuition and Fees

Survey respondents also provided insight into private school tuition costs. From the 267 responding private schools (80 percent of survey sample), the average private school tuition was approximately $4,700 per year for elementary and middle school students and $7,800 per year for high school students.[†] However, tuition rates at private schools varied widely, as is evident from Graphic 10. At the elementary, middle and high school levels, some private schools charged tuition of less than $1,500 per student per year while others charged more than $20,000 per student per year. Notably, 92 percent of private schools charge $7,500 or less for elementary and middle school students and 79 percent of private high schools charge $10,000 or less.

Many private school administrators indicated that their school charges different tuition rates for different families. For instance, many schools use a sliding scale based on a family’s income so as to make the school more affordable to more families. Some schools that are financially supported by a church charge different rates to families that are members of that church and to those that are not. A few schools also noted that their tuition rates vary based on a family’s ability to pay, and some charge a percentage of a family’s income as a tuition payment, commonly between 5 and 8 percent. Finally, many schools also offer discounts to families that enroll more than one child and some cap the amount large families are responsible for paying, meaning these families can enroll additional children at no extra costs to themselves.

Graphic 10: Private School Estimated Annual Tuition

Graphic 10

In addition to tuition, some private schools charge supplementary fees (e.g., registration, resources, technology, transportation). The majority of additional fees were associated with registration — 53 percent of private school survey respondents indicated that they charge registration fees. Approximately 11 percent of respondent schools charged technology fees and approximately 10 percent charged textbook fees. The average amount of fees charged by private school survey respondents was approximately $250 per student per year.

Tuition Assistance

Survey results revealed that more than one out of three private schools provide financial assistance to families and a little more than one third of students receives some form of tuition assistance. In particular, based on an average from the 247 survey responses to this question (74 percent of survey sample), 34 percent of elementary and middle school students and 40 percent of high school students receive financial assistance.

Survey results from 207 respondents (62 percent of survey sample) also revealed the average amounts of financial assistance provided to families. At the primary school level, the average amount of financial assistance per student among survey respondents was over $1,600 per year, and at the high school level about $2,000 per year. However, financial assistance varied widely from school to school: some schools offered more than $9,000 per year, while others offered less than $100. Many private school survey respondents indicated that tuition assistance varied widely and was highly dependent on individual circumstances and family needs. 

[*]The median values for these distributions were $5,500 for elementary and middle school costs and $8,600 for high schools. There were 235 responses for primary schools and 51 responses for high schools. For these calculations, and those for average tuition charges, outliers were removed from the data set (i.e., responses that were less than $1,000 or more than $25,000). Fewer than 10 outliers were removed for each calculation. 

[†]The median values for these distributions were $4,000 for elementary and middle schools tuition and fees and $7,200 for high school tuition and fees. These figures are based off 230 responses for primary schools and 56 responses for high schools.