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Do private schools have fees other than tuition?

Last updated: 
December 15, 2023

The cost of attending private school typically extends beyond tuition. These additional expenses may be a required aspect of enrollment or an optional fee based on activity participation. Because additional fees vary by school, families should ask each school about them to fully understand the cost of attendance.

Common fees associated with private school attendance include:

  • Admissions — The cost of applying for admission often includes application fees, admission assessment costs, and assessment practice expenses. If the admission fees are a barrier for your family, ask the school about fee waivers. 
  • Extracurricular Activities Participation fees may exist for athletics, clubs, and other extracurricular activities to cover uniforms, equipment, and travel expenses.
  • Field Trips — Schools may charge fees for field trips to cover admission tickets, transportation, and other expenses. There may also be additional student expenses for food, souvenirs, or equipment (for example, if students go backpacking for orientation, they may have to get footwear, backpacks, and sleeping bags). 
  • International Students — Boarding schools often have an international student fee for services such as airport transportation, on-campus living during long weekends, assistance with legal paperwork regarding visas, and TOEFL exams. International students must also have health insurance, which they might be able to purchase through the school.
  • Meals — The school’s meal plan may not be built into tuition.
  • Music — Students participating in music programs will need to rent or purchase their instrument (there are often rent-to-own options), and, depending on their aspirations, they may be encouraged to take private lessons.
  • Registration and Late Payments — Some schools have a registration fee to offset the administrative expenses associated with enrollment; this fee may be a one-time or annual cost. The school may also charge late tuition payment fees.
  • Technology — Schools may charge a technology fee for computer equipment, software subscriptions, and technology infrastructure.
  • Testing Fees — As students prepare for higher education, they will incur standardized testing fees for admission assessments such as PSAT, SAT, and ACT, as well as advanced placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IP) exams.
  • Textbooks and Supplies — Some private schools require students to purchase textbooks, workbooks, and other necessary learning tools and supplies, such as graphing calculators and three-ring binders.
  • Transportation — Day students using school-provided transportation may incur an additional cost for this service.
  • Uniforms and Swag — Schools with uniforms have various required clothing items, footwear, and accessories. In addition, schools sell optional spirit wear clothes—t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, etc.

It is worth noting that some of the fees listed above—meals, music, testing, spirit wear, etc.—are general educational fees also incurred within public school education.

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