19 December, 2014

Australia : Private School Fees and Costs

How much do Australian Private Schools Cost?

Private school tuition fees vary considerably across Australia, however you may expect to pay anywhere between $20,000 and $32,000 for a Year 12 day student attending an established, well regarded metropolitan private school in 2014 - with boarding fees in addition.  Most schools do, however, provide a discount of some form for families where multiple children attend the same school.

Fee Comparisons 
 

To provide some additional detail, the table below provides an indication of school fees payable at some well known colleges across Australia for Year 12 students. These are generally prestigious schools and their fees are at the very top end of the range - Catholic schools are usually appreciably less expensive.  The table illustrates some considerable differences in fees between Melbourne and Sydney and other mainland state capitals, although this seems to be narrowing. Compulsory levies have been included in fee comparisons where identifiable and possible - IT and "Tablet" levies are currently very common. At least one school now includes "voluntary donations" within fee invoices - at this stage we will flag these situations rather than include them in direct comparisons.

The trend over recent years has been for the increase in private school fees to significantly exceed wage and wider inflation; with compound increases of over 6% being common amongst the better known schools, effectively doubling the cost of private education every decade. Schools quote this as the "education inflation rate", but whatever the major cost drivers - and they are certainly salary and labour costs - we do not regard this as a sustainable model and believe that it will inevitably cause major problems. This is particularly if there any significant changes to public education funding - so parents need to consider carefully the financial position of potential schools. Obviously, school fees also need to be very carefully considered within your financial planning if you are committed to the private school system - in many situations the cost of sending two children through an Australian private school will exceed AUD500K.

STATE/SCHOOL
2011
2012
2013
2014
Last Increase
ACT  
 
 
 
 
Canberra Grammar
17,930
18,650
19,340
20,140
4.1%
Canberra Girls Grammar
17,350
18,045
18,720
20,090*
7.3%
NSW  
 
 
 
 
PLC Sydney
24,110
26,040
27,240
29,280
7.5%
SCEGGS Darlinghurst
27,405
29,411
31,001
32.179
3.8%
Sydney Grammar School
25,776
26,800
28,827
30,240
4.9%
Scots College
 
 
30,900
 
 
QUEENSLAND  
 
 
 
 
Brisbane Grammar School
17,955
20,640
22,020
23,345
6.5%
Brisbane Girls Grammar
17,480
18,680
19,880
20,880
5.0%
Anglican Church Grammar
18,350
19,375
20,397
20,854
2.2%
SOUTH AUSTRALIA  
 
 
 
 
Prince Alfred College
19,365
20,550
21,780
22,890
5.1%
Walford
18,285
19,680
21,060
22,090
4.9%
Pulteney Grammar
17,700
19,120
20,500
21,530
5.0%
VICTORIA  
 
 
 
 
Geelong Grammar
29,220
30,820
32,000
34,020
5.0%
Melbourne Girls Grammar
24,788
26,152
27,644
29,248
5.8%
Haileybury College
23,055
23,980
25,300
26,565
5.0%
Trinity Grammar
21,824
24,532
26,080
27,776
6.5%
WESTERN AUSTRALIA  
 
 
 
 
Christ Church Grammar 
20,120
21,520
22,820
24,200
6.0%
TASMANIA          
Hutchins School  
 
 
 
 

 

*
Includes additional (unavoidable) charges, such as textbook hire, Art, Sport participation.
 
School does not make fees public - any figures provided are unconfirmed and may not include ancillary costs
x
Awaiting fee publication

It may seem pointless to include schools in the comparison who do not make their fees public. However, we question whether a school's reluctance to publish its fees is consistent with their receiving any level of public funding. For the moment, there seems to be a direct relationship between the absolute level of fees and the unwillingness of a school to publish them.

Non- Residents : Private School Costs
 

The difference between private school fees for resident and a non-residents can be quite substantial; the figures below are those applying in relation to an Anglican Church Grammar Year 12 boarder, and they are fairly representative:
 

 
Resident
Non-Resident
Tuition Fees
20,854
30,360
Boarding Fees
20,736
26,957
Total
41,590
57,317


Additional Costs

Apart from the cost of school fees, the cost of attendance at an Australian private school includes a range of potential additional costs.  A summarised, but by no means exhaustive, list of costs split into non-recurring and recurring costs appears below:

Non – Recurring
 

  • Application Fee – circa $50 to $200
  • Enrolment Fee – circa $500 to $2,500 and may be higher. For example, Christ Church charges a non-refundable/non-tax deductible fee of $6,050 for admission.
  • Non Interest Bearing Loans – may increase as a child progresses through the school

Recurring
 

  • Building Levies – Compulsory or Voluntary
  • Compulsory purchase of IT equipment - laptops and tablets
  • Additional subject costs eg. music, language, sports tuition
  • Special Programme costs
  • School Camps and Trips
  • Uniforms
  • Musical equipment hire
  • School bus services
  • Book charges
  • Pre and After-school care costs
  • Fundraising support (voluntary)
  • International Baccalaureate levies

 

Some Comments on Funding Education Costs
 

1. Australian expats looking to fund future education costs in Australia need to seek specific financial advice - the "best" approach may be very dependent on your location. For example, for expats based in low or no tax regimes it is unlikely that Australian based investment solutions will be competitive with products or services available offshore.

2. Expats in Australia on temporary resident visas with children in private schools (in Australia or overseas) or resident in states which charge for access to public schooling should seek specific tax advice regarding the advantages of salary sacrificing these cost within their remuneration package.

3. We are unconvinced that the current Education or Scholarship funds available in Australia to fund primary, secondary and University schooling always represent "good value" from a cost or flexibility perspective. We would rather see this sort of funding integrated within a family's overall financial plan; unless participation is simply seen as a budgetting tool.

 

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