The STS Blog

Navigating the Cost of Private School
St. Thomas School

If you are considering private school for your child, then no doubt the question of tuition has crossed your mind more than once. Feeling overwhelmed by different costs involved is natural, but we're here to help you navigate the numbers. Here's a basic breakdown of the various costs for private school:

Application Fees & Admissions Testing

What does it cost to apply to a school? Compared to tuition, application fees are of no great consequence and only exist to cover the costs of processing your child's application. Some schools may require formal admissions testing to qualify potential students before admitting them, while other schools may may administer their own assessments and/or rely on records and recommendations from a child's previous schools.


The first thing that usually comes to mind when thinking about the cost of private school is tuition.

All-Inclusive Tuitions

Some schools have all-inclusive tuition, which means that your child will gain unlimited access to other school-based needs such as supplies, technology fees and devices, or extracurricular activities. Therefore, be sure to ask exactly what tuition covers. Private schools with all-inclusive tuitions often vary tuitions by grade, since older children are more likely to participate in activities such as overnight trips, clubs, and athletics.

Varying Tuitions

If a school covers multiple grades (i.e. preschool and middle school), they will often charge differing amounts depending on the age of the child. If your child is coming into a private school at a younger age, it's important to consider whether you will be able to cover their tuition costs as they get older.

Uniforms, Lunches, & School Supplies

Many—but not all—private schools require students to participate in ways that are only optional for public school students. For instance, a private school may require students to eat school-prepared lunches, bring their own laptop, or wear uniforms. While some schools include these expenses in tuition, others may charge additional fees to cover these costs. Understanding the "add-ons" upfront will help you manage your private school budget.

Extracurricular Activities

Private schools aren't only about academics. Robust offerings in athletics, clubs, and other extracurricular activities are often a big draw for families considering private verse public education. Make sure you are aware of any additional costs for these activities. Some schools may include these in tuition in order to provide students all students with access to a wide variety of activities. Other private schools may expect you to pay fees separately by activity.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

Many private schools offer financial aid grants and scholarships to help cover tuition costs.

  • Financial Aid Grants are typically given on a need-based system. That said, many families don't know they qualify for financial aid.
  • Merit Scholarships are often awarded when a student shows significant skill in a given area or exceptional academic promise.
  • Additional Options may include scholarships from outside organizations, tuition loans, payment plans, and sibling discounts.

There are many myths about financial aid and the affordability of private school. Before, deciding private school is outside of your budget, be sure to speak with a school's admissions and financial aid representatives and explore all the options available to you.