How much does a private preK-12 education cost?

On August 3, 2016 in Family Life & HealthFinancial ManagementPreK-12

How much does a private preK-12 education cost?

Everyone knows about the skyrocketing costs of going to college in the U.S. Less talked about, however, are the rising costs of pre-college education.

In the years before kids can see a PG-13 movie on their own, their parents can spend thousands of dollars on private schools, where tuition bills can make expenses of some colleges look manageable by comparison.

When you know in advance the costs of a private school, from pre-kindergarten through high school, you can plan investment strategies, set aside savings and assess financing options that may be available to you.

Consider average tuition

The cost of one year at a PreK-12 private school can cost just as much – and perhaps even more – than a year of college tuition. According to Private School Review, the average cost of private elementary school in 2015-2016 is $8,441 per year. The average private high school, meanwhile, costs $12,900 per year.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, trends in private PreK-12 education costs tend to correspond with those seen in private colleges. Dense population centers, where costs of living are often greatest, regularly boast private schools with the highest sticker prices.

A matter of geography

Private school tuition varies significantly depending on where you live. The Atlantic reported that average annual tuition at a private high school in the Southeast is a little less than $19,000. In New England, on the other hand, tuition can easily be double that, reaching $35,000 or even $40,000 a year at elite institutions.

With more than 30,000 private schools distributed across the country, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, there’s a great deal of variation from one state to the next. Average tuition in Michigan, for instance, is $6,620, while it’s more than $20,000 in Massachusetts, according to data from Private School Review.

Different types of private schools

Parents looking to send their children to a private school while incurring as little expense as possible have a number of options:

  • At parochial or religious schools, an elementary education runs $5,330 per year, according to the NCES (though that jumps to average about $10,000 in middle and high school). Religious schools tend to be the least expensive private school option, though they aren’t for every student.
  • Montessori schools are another path. U.S. News & World Report noted there are about 8,000 Montessori institutions nationwide, catering specifically to preschool through elementary-school children. Costs vary between as little as $1,000 per year and as much as $14,000, the North American Montessori Teachers’ Association reported.
  • A third, more expensive option lies in boarding schools. These schools act as residential high schools, offering seven-day-a-week boarding programs alongside a complete education and extracurricular activities. Boarding schools cost between $18,000 and more than $52,000 per year, so parents need to plan well in advance if considering this route.