Why does one private school cost less than another in the same area? Why are certain areas of the country much more expensive than others? We examine tuition costs around the nation.
You and I can understand the average cost of tuition of private schools as detailed on Private School Review by being aware of a couple of factors. We will take a look at those factors and also show you how the cost of a private K-12 education varies from region to region. That way, if you have to move from one location to another, you will have a general idea of what to expect as far as your private school expenses go.
We will begin with a look at how the cost of elementary schools compares with schools offering high school grades.
Costs subsidized by religious organizations
Let's examine one reason why average tuition costs can be less in one area than in another. That has to do with the number of religious schools included in the statistics. I am not being negative here. Just factual. Faith-based schools, be they Roman Catholic, Jewish or Christian or any other religion, tend to be subsidized by their religious organizations. For example, a temple which establishes an elementary school will do so to serve its congregation in the first instance and then as an outreach to the wider Jewish community in the second instance. The tuition generally will be discounted for families who are members of the temple. This practice is similar to how state universities charge less for students who are state residents as opposed to students who are from out of state.
Using existing facilities
The next factor to consider will be non-cash subsidies such as the use of existing classroom and office space, playing fields and so on. Most churches, temples and mosques will have classrooms and meeting rooms which tend to be used one or two days a week. Turning over these under-utilized facilities to your church's elementary school often suits everybody's goals and mission. Not having to pay market rent for facilities effectively lowers the tuition we parents have to pay.
Why elementary school often cost less than high school
I am hedging my bets here simply because private schools are unique. Some schools offering only elementary grades might indeed be more expensive than some high schools. Why is this? The cost of a school's program is what can shift the scale one way or the other. Let me give you an example: student-teacher ratio impacts the cost of running a school. A school with larger class sizes, say, 20-25 students per class, costs less to run than a school which has 12-15 students per class.
High schools which offer specialist courses which require laboratory facilities will cost more than an elementary school. High schools also tend to have athletic programs and team sports which require both expensive facilities and skilled professional to run them. The same thing is true of arts programs.
A school which offers grades PK-12 will generally charge more for the high school grades for the simple reason that more teachers and facilities are required to carry out the school's program and mission.
"The most expensive town for private school tuition is Palo Alto, CA with an average tuition of $24,409." That is what the raw data tells us. But when you dig deeper into the statistics you realize that Palo Alto, California has high median home prices and a much higher cost of living than, say, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The other point to consider is that Palo Alto does not have any boarding schools. A residential or boarding school is more expensive than a day school because you have housing, meals and supervision added onto the educational expenses. That keeps the Palo Alto average private school tuition low.
We can see this more clearly when we look at private school tuition on the East Coast, specifically in Connecticut.
"The most expensive county for private school tuition is Litchfield County, CT with an average tuition of $47,006."
Litchfield County is in the Northwest corner of the state of Connecticut. It is home to The Hotchkiss School, Kent School, Marvelwood School, Salisbury School, The Gunnery, The Taft School and The Forman School. Boarding schools in Litchfield County, Connecticut are expensive. The sheer number of boarding schools is what causes the average tuition to be so high.
But what about other areas?
King County, Washington
, home to Seattle, has relatively low average private school tuition. That is because it has 269 private schools 98% of which are day schools.
In the Boston, Massachusetts area Middlesex County
has 222 private schools of which 70 are high schools. Of those approximately 20 are boarding schools. That makes the average tuition cost higher in an already expensive metropolitan area.
Now perhaps you are thinking that private school tuitions in Hawaii would be expensive because it is an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. However, Hawaii's unique Kamehameha Schools
offer tuition free education. That dilutes the average cost significantly in an area which is otherwise very expensive to live in..
Tip: on the right hand side of each state page is a "Did You Know?" which will show current average costs for both elementary and high schools as you browse different areas of the country.
When you are thinking about relocating
Use our private school average tuition charts and data as a reference point in your planning. Naturally if you are relocating to an expensive metropolitan area such as New York, Washington, DC or Chicago, you will generally find that private school tuition is higher than many other parts of the country. But balance that out with the large number of private school options which you will have available to you in a metropolitan area.
One last word about interpreting any private school data: you are well-advised to engage the services of a professional educational consultant. She knows everything about private schools. She can explain the value offered by one private school compared to another in absolute terms, not just by comparing tuition costs.