• arnoldanita

The cost of getting into a private school

The Australian education system is inequitable and something needs to be done about it.

In the meantime, as the Covid19 home-schooling nightmare showed us, we all need to have our kids educated..... at a school.

Despite only 10% of Australian students attending private schools, the debate around private versus public education is a perennial one. It’s a hot topic with parents of kids of every age, and can be heard wherever they meet, from the side of swimming lesson pools to playgrounds, BBQ's and any adult social occasion; particularly in metropolitan areas where great local state schooling often isn’t easily available. In Sydney’s East and North, real estate and private school fees are the most popular topics amongst parents of kids under 12.

Regardless of which side of this debate your own opinion falls, the non-debatable fact is that with the exception of 2021 (when many schools froze fees for the first time ever) private school fees are increasing faster than all the major asset classes in Australia; cash, shares and property. By the time a child born in 2021 is in year 12, their private school fees for that year will be more than the average Australian wage – and that’s before taxes. Gulp.

There are a number of ways to plan for and pay school fees, but we thought it would be useful to know exactly what the costs are at the start of this journey.

Sydney independent schools are more expensive than in other state capitals and getting into and starting at one, can be costly, even before your child sits in front of a teacher.

Assuming you have done your research and know which school you want your child to attend, the process goes something like this*:

  • At birth: you put their name on the waiting list of the desired school/s and choose your preferred entry point - approx. $300 non-refundable application fee per school whose list you go on

  • About 18months before entry point: You go for an interview and if accepted, you pay a non-refundable acceptance fee which doesn’t go towards fees - $3000-$7500 (families generally only pay this to one school)

  • Either just before or just after starting at school: You receive your first fee invoice. Even though you know what’s going to be inside, take a deep breath before opening that email!

* Figures are based on independent schools in Sydney. Religious schools generally have lower administration and tuition fees.