The cost of a private school education ranges from virtually nothing at several free schools to well over $100,000 at a couple of exclusive European boarding schools. For the purposes of this article you and I will consider the tuition if we are looking at day schools. We will examine tuition and room and board only as we review boarding school costs. I am leaving out all the extras such as riding or music lessons, school trips, travel to and from the school, local transportation, health insurance, computers and so on. These sundries add up quickly so don't forget to take them into account. Also not included are acceptance deposits, application fees and admissions testing.
Here are some examples of what the various types of private schools charge. Remember that this is merely a sampling. You should explore every school which interests you as part of your school search process. Set aside financial concerns for the moment. Focus on finding the school which is the best fit for both you and your child. While paying for private school obviously is a major concern, you will discover that you will have a couple of options available to you.
One final bit of guidance: you will have to visit each school's web site in order to determine what the current costs are. Generally you can find that information under the admissions links.
Day schools are non-residential schools. Most of them offer classroom instruction Monday to Friday. Intramural sports and activities are fitted in during the week with many schools devoting an afternoon to non-classroom activities. Occasionally there will be events planned for Saturdays, in particular, varsity sports.
Many day schools offer a full range of grades from Prekindergarten through to Grade 12. Some even offer the PG or Post-graduate year as well. Essentially most of these day schools function as two schools within one campus. An Upper School serves the high school years. The Lower School serves the younger children in primary grades. Some schools further divide their students into three groups: Upper School, Middle School and Lower School. While the divisions are housed on the same campus, they each have their own administration and faculty running the day to day operations. There will be some sharing of specialist teachers such as music, art, foreign languages and so on.
Over all of the divisions is the umbrella of the school administration providing leadership and the fiscal management of the entire school. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics Private School Universe Survey (2011-12) http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2013/2013316.pdf there are 21,486 private schools offering elementary and secondary grades.
The cost of a typical day school varies from region to region. A range of $20,000 to $35,000 will give you an idea of what to expect.
Parochial schools are schools attached to a religious congregation. Religious instruction is an integral part of the academic program. How many schools would be considered parochial or religious schools? The numbers below are taken from the National Center for Educational Statistics Private School Universe Survey (2011-12) .
- Roman Catholic schools: 6,683
- Other religious schools: 14,214
- Non-sectarian schools: 9,775
Once again there is a wide range of costs for parochial/religious schools. They do tend to be much less expensive than day schools. Why? Because in many cases these kind of schools are subsidized by the religious institution which sponsors them. Expect tuition to cost in a range of $6,000 to $12,000.
Montessori schools follow the teachings and philosophy of Dr. Maria Montessori. Her early childhood method is very popular in North America.
According to NCES there are 2,439 Montessori schools. Montessori schools offer infant through grade 6. Classes are small. Tuition is in a range of $6,000 to $15,000.
Waldorf schools follow the philosophy and teachings of the Austrian education, writer and philosopher, Rudolf Steiner. Waldorf schools usually include all grades through high school. Tuitions are in the $12,000 to $18,000 range.
- The Chicago Waldorf School, Chicago, Illinois
- Merriconeag Waldorf School, Freeport, Maine
Denominational High Schools
Denominational high schools in the Episcopal, Baptist, Seventh Day Adventist, Jewish, Quaker, Lutheran and other faiths can be found throughout the country. They have a mission very much like the parochial schools mentioned above. In many cases those parochial schools act as feeder schools for the denominational high schools. Tuition ranges from $9,000 to $14,000. If you are a practising member of the specific faith to which the high school belongs, you will receive a discounted tuition rate as a general rule.
Boarding schools are residential high schools. Most offer a 7 days a week boarding program. A few allow students to return home for the weekend. While boarding schools tend to be more expensive than day schools simply because they provide room and board and 24/7 supervision, they are good value because they teach your child to begin to live away from home as well as providing a complete education and extracurricular and sports programs in one package. The cost of boarding schools varies greatly. A range of $18,000 to $52,000 will give you some idea of tuitions being charged.
A subset of boarding schools are the junior boarding schools which serve the middle school grades. You can find more junior boarding schools at Junior Boarding Schools Association web site. They tend to cost about the same as residential high schools. The range is $18,000 to $51,000.
Special needs schools offer programs to remediate a host of learning differences. These programs require highly qualified professionals and very small class sizes. These factors drive the cost of special needs education mugh higher than other types of private schools. The range is $50,000 to $68,000.