Average Private School Tuition

by Gail Flores

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Private schools offer plenty of benefits, from more personalized learning to state-of-the-art facilities. But how much is private school education, and how much does a private school cost in different states and year levels? 

In this article, we’ll do a deep dive into the costs of attending a private school, may it be a day grade or a 7-day boarding school. We’ll also discuss the factors that affect the cost of private school education, from location to school type.

Specifically, we’ll focus on:

  • Public vs. private schools: an overview
  • General private school tuition statistics
  • Average private school tuition per state
  • Most expensive private high schools
  • How much private schools cost per year level
  • Factors contributing to private school tuition 
  • Private school costs trends over time
  • Financial aid for private school students
  • Private school tuition future outlook
  • Frequently asked questions

So let’s get started!

Top private school tuition statistics

  • In the US, the cost of attending private schools in the US ranges from $4K to over $60K.
  • The average annual tuition among all private schools nationwide is $12,594
  • The average cost of attending a 5-day boarding school is $53,025.
  • For 7-day boarding schools, the average cost of attending is $66,555.
  • The private elementary school average tuition cost is $11,660 per year.
  • The private high school tuition cost average is $16,144 per year.
  • The average annual tuition at a private university is $32,825.
  • Connecticut has the highest average private school tuition at $31,716 per year.
  • On the other hand, the state with the lowest average tuition is South Dakota at $5,103 per year.
  • Non-sectarian private high schools, which make up about 32% of private schools, cost an average of $25,180 per year.
  • Catholic private schools, which account for 17% of US schools, tend to have the lowest tuition of all private schools at $4,840. (Bouchrika, 2023).
  • An estimated 25% – 28% of private school students nationwide receive some form of financial aid.
  • The average annual tuition for private elementary and secondary schools will increase by 2.3% per year between 2022 and 2027.

Private Schools vs Public Schools: An Overview

Part of understanding private school tuition is knowing what private schools offer and what sets them apart. Due to tuition and private funding, private schools may offer more updated facilities, resources, and technology.

Here’s a summary of the differences between public schools and private schools:

FeaturesPublic SchoolsPrivate Schools
CostFreeRequires students to pay tuition
Class sizeTypically larger class sizes due to higher enrollment ratesTypically smaller class sizes, allowing for more personalized attention
AdmissionOpen to allSelective admissions process
Student-teacher ratioHigher student-teacher ratioLower student-teacher ratio
Academic performanceVaries widelyTypically higher standardized test scores
FundingFunded by local, state, and federal taxesFunded by tuition, donations, and endowments
Teacher qualificationsTeachers must be licensed by the stateTeachers may not be required to be licensed by the state
Source: Diffen 

While public and private schools may both offer quality education, private schools have had higher education outcomes. Private school students score at least 20% higher than their public school counterparts in all subject areas of standardized tests such as the American College Testing (ACT).

When it comes to their admissions process, private schools are also typically more selective.

According to the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), 89% of private school students attended schools that include academic merit in their admission policy, compared with 59% of public school students.

Average private school tuition by school type

Private schools charge different tuition fees according to their type, and boarding schools charge higher fees than day-grade schools where students don’t have to stay overnight.

1. The average annual tuition among all private schools nationwide is $12,594. (Private School Review). 

Day Grade

2. Among the member schools of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), the average day tuition is $29,653.

3. The median day grade for students 2 years old and younger is $18,200.

4. For the rest of the grades, the average costs are as follows:

  • Grade 1: $25,740
  • Grade 3: $26,410
  • Grade 6: $29,135
  • Grade 8: $29,720
  • Grade 9: $34,000
  • Grade 11: $33,785
  • Grade 12: $33,860

Average private boarding school costs per year level

5. The average cost of attending a 5-day boarding school is $53,025.

6. For 7-day boarding schools, the average cost of attending is $66,555.

5-Day Boarding Tuition and Fees

7. According to the National Association of Independent Schools, the median cost of attending a 5-day boarding school further varies by level.

8. For Grade 6, the average cost of a 5-day boarding school is $59,900.

9. The average cost of a 5-day boarding school in 8th Grade is $54,988.

10. By the time a student reaches 9th grade, the average cost of a 5-day boarding school decreases to $52,963.

11. For 12th-grade students, the average cost of attending a 5-day boarding school is $51,520.

7-Day Boarding Tuition and Fees

12. 7-day boarding schools have a higher average tuition and still vary per year level. 

13. The average cost of a 7-day boarding school in 6th Grade is $68,800.

14. For Grade 8, the average cost of a 7-day boarding school is $60,920.

15. By the time a student reaches 9th grade, the average cost of a 7-day boarding school increases to $66,555.

17. For 12th-grade students, a 7-day Boarding school costs an average of $66,100.

Top 10 states with the highest private school tuition

18. The average cost of attending a private school varies greatly by state.

19. Connecticut has the highest average private school tuition at  $31,716 per year.

20. The most expensive town for private school tuition is Ojai, California with an average tuition of $43,719. (Private School Review).

21. The most costly county for private school tuition is Litchfield County, Connecticut with an average tuition of $54,180.

Here are the top 10 states with the highest average private school tuition:

StateAverage Private School TuitionElementary TuitionSecondary School Tuition
Connecticut$31,716$22,648$40,783
Washington, D.C.$29,298$27,647$30,948
Massachusetts$29,549$21,946$37,151
Vermont$25,324$18,494$32,155
Maine$22,479$14,704$30,253 
New York$23,659$20,899$26,418
New Hampshire$20,014$11,601 $28,426
California$17,978$15,147$20,808 
Rhode Island$20,287$13,492$27,082 
New Jersey$16,553$14,234$18,871 
Source: National School Choice Week (2023)

Top 10 states with the lowest private schools average tuition

22. The state with the lowest average tuition is South Dakota at $5,103 per year.

Here are the top 10 states with the highest average private school tuition:

StateAverage Private School TuitionElementary TuitionSecondary School Tuition
South Dakota$5,103$3,837$6,369
Nebraska$5,745$3,610$7,880
Mississippi$6,281$5,951$6,611
Wisconsin$6,282$4,083$8,481
Arkansas$6,300$5,910$6,689
West Virginia$6,488$6,358$6,617
Alaska$7,018$7,154$6,881
Iowa$7,060$4,953$9,167
Oklahoma$7,409$6,766$8,052
Kentucky$7,509$6,941$8,077
Source: National School Choice Week

How much private schools cost per state

Here is the breakdown of the average costs of attending private schools in all states:

StateAverage Private School TuitionElementary TuitionSecondary School Tuition
Alabama$8,328$7,834$8,881
Alaska$7,018$7,154$6,881
Arizona$11,693$9,619$13,766
Arkansas$6,300$5,910$6,689
California$17,978$15,147$20,808 
Colorado$12,856$11,437$15,633
Connecticut$31,716$22,648$40,783
Delaware$10,940$10,186$11,694
Florida$10,583$9,977$11,189
Georgia$11,756$11,362$12,149
Hawaii$15,861$14,213$17,509
Idaho$8,145$8,309$7,981
Illinois$10,256$7,851$12,661
Indiana$8,081$5,881$10,280
Iowa$7,060$4,953$9,167
Kansas$8,720$6,978$10,462
Kentucky$7,509$6,941$8,077
Louisiana$8,026$7,344$8,708
Maine$22,479$14,704$30,253 
Maryland$15,670$13,524$17,815
Massachusetts$29,549$21,946$37,151
Michigan$8,976$6,547$11,405
Minnesota$10,271$7,181 $13,360
Mississippi$6,281$5,951$6,611
Missouri$11,211$9,987$12,434
Montana$8,566$8,068$9,063
Nebraska$5,745$3,610$7,880
Nevada$10,975$10,544$11,407
New Hampshire$20,014$11,601 $28,426
New Jersey$16,553$14,234$18,871 
New Mexico$9,547$8,770$10,324
New York$23,659$20,899$26,418
North Carolina$9,561$9,056$10,066
North Dakota$5,480$4,010$6,950
Ohio$8,897$7,113$10,681
Oklahoma$7,409$6,766$8,052
Oregon$10,748$9,485$12,011
Pennsylvania$13,311$10,477$16,145
Rhode Island$20,287$13,492$27,082 
South Carolina$8,147$7,869$7,921
South Dakota$5,103$3,837$6,369
Tennessee$10,765$10,444$11,086
Texas$10,795$10,076$11,515
Utah$11,999$10,962$13,036
Vermont$25,324$18,494$32,155
Virginia$15,349$13,434 $17,265
Washington$13,046$12,392$14,060
Washington, D.C.$29,298$27,647$30,948
West Virginia$6,488$6,358$6,617
Wisconsin$6,282$4,083$8,481
Wyoming$13,064$7,060$19,067
Source: Education Data Initiative, National School Choice Week (2023)

Most expensive private high schools

23. According to Spear’s Schools Index, a global ranking of the world's leading private schools, six private high schools charge their boarders over $60,000 a year.

Here are the most expensive private high schools in the US:

SchoolBoarding TuitionDay Tuition
The Hotchkiss School ( Lakeville, Connecticut)$68,370$58,110
Rosemary Hall (Wallingford, Connecticut)$67,000 $51,000
Phillips Academy Andover (Andover, Massachusetts)$66,290$51,380 
Deerfield Academy (Deerfield, Massachusetts)$64,850$46,800
Groton School (Boston, Massachusetts)$59,995$46,670 
Source: Spear’s School Index (2023)

Factors in private school tuition costs

24. Where do private school tuition fees go? Several factors contribute to private school tuition costs, such as:

  • Location: Depending on which state you live in, the cost of private school tuition varies significantly across the US. 
  • Grade level: Private schools charge different tuition fees according to grade level. 
  • Type of school: The type of school also makes a difference in tuition costs. For example, five-day boarding schools cost more than twice as much as private day schools and seven-day boarding schools cost even more.
  • Facilities: The facilities offered by the school can also impact tuition costs. Schools with state-of-the-art facilities and resources may charge higher tuition fees.
  • Other expenses: Parents can expect to pay for other costs, such as technology, books, supplies, field trips, and school uniforms. According to Data Initiative, 56.3% of tuition goes towards staff salaries including teachers, instructional support, and administrators. 

Private school costs trends over time

25. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average annual tuition for private elementary and secondary schools increased by 14% between 2010 and 2020.

26. The private school tuition fee increase is significantly higher than the rate of inflation, which was 1.7% over the same period.

Financial aid for private school education

27. An estimated 25% – 28% of private school students nationwide receive some form of financial aid. (US News).

28. As of March 2023, students who receive some form of aid from their schools receive packages averaging around $21,120 per year.

29. The median grant per student was more than $19,000 in the 2020-21 school year.

30. The three biggest factors that affect financial aid awards are total income, expenses, and assets.

31. While there are no universal private school financial aid income limits, total household income will be the most significant factor in determining a student’s financial aid package

Private school tuition future outlook

32. The National Center for Education Statistics projects that the average annual tuition for private elementary and secondary schools will increase by 2.3% per year between 2022 and 2027.

33. IBISWorld projects that the private school industry in the United States will decline by 0.4% per year over the next five years.

34. The decline is due to rising competition from public schools, lower birth rates, and therefore decreasing demand.

Frequently asked questions

How much does attending a private school cost?

The average annual tuition among all private schools nationwide is $12,594, but the cost of attending a private school varies significantly by location, school type, and year level. The private elementary school average tuition cost is $11,660 per year and $16,144 for high school.

Where do private school tuition fees go?

The majority of tuition goes towards staff salaries including teachers, instructional support, and administrators. 

Do private schools offer financial aid or scholarships?

Private schools may offer financial aid, and about 25% – 28% of private school students nationwide receive some form of grant to offset the costs of private schooling.

Are there any additional fees besides tuition?

In addition to tuition, parents can expect to pay application fees, registration fees, and fees for extracurricular activities, uniforms, and school supplies.

Learn more about other college statistics

Sources

Council for American Private Education – SAT/ACT Results

Education Data Initiative – Average Cost of Private School [2023]: Tuition by Education Level 

National Association of Independent Schools – 2023 Facts at a Glance for Member Schools 

National Association of Independent Schools –  2023 Facts at a Glance for Non-Member Schools 

National Center for Education Statistics Table 205.30 (Digest 2021): Percentage distribution of students enrolled in private elementary and secondary schools, by school orientation and selected characteristics: Selected years, fall 2009 through fall 2019

National School Choice Week

We Are Teachers – How Many Schools Are in the U.S.? (And More Interesting School Statistics) 

Diffen – Private School vs. Public School Private Schools in the US – Market Size, Industry Analysis, Trends and Forecasts (2023-2028) | IBISWorld

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