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Are there "hidden fees" or extra expenses at private schools?

Other private education costs to consider

Schools are generally quite upfront about what expenses parents should expect, so parents rarely complain about "hidden fees". But you should indeed be aware of potential additional costs -- costs the annual tuition may not include.

Included here are the major ones to consider. At some schools, some of these expenses are included in tuition. So be sure to ask prospective schools about their expenses and analyze your choices on a case-by-case basis. 

Expenses

The figures in orange are sample expenses from a prominent, downtown Toronto private school with day tuition around $30,000. Not all schools will have the same additional costs -- amounts will vary. (The registration fee in this example is much higher than the typical case, for example).

One-time registration fees 

Some schools have a flat, upfront fee for new students. These are different from the "application" fees schools may charge for submitting an application for enrollment. A registration fee is paid when the student actually enrolls in the school.

$7,500 - New student
$5,000 - With enroled sibling


Books

It is best to research how many books, on average, per grade, a school requires and roughly how expensive those books are. Also, you’ll want to know how frequently the school upgrades its textbooks so you can decide whether purchasing used textbooks will be an option. Many textbooks and books are becoming available digitally which might save some money; ask a school whether this is something they support or not.

$150-200/year - Junior
$500/year - Middle or Senior


Busing

Inquire about the cost of sending your child to day school on a bus. Selecting a school that is close to home or on your commute to work may be more cost effective.

N/A


Extra supplies

Depending on the type of school and the selection of classes, there may be additional costs such as art supplies, musical instruments, sports equipment and science experiments to name a few.

$150/year - Activity Fee
$50-$100 - Music Fee


Meals

Understand what meals, if any, are included and their tuition price. This is particularly important when choosing a boarding school. You’ll also want to make sure the school accommodates any dietary restrictions or beliefs your child may require, for the same price.

$7.50-$10/meal - Cafeteria


Trips

Ask a school about the types of trips they plan and which are part of the curriculum or extracurricular. Where one school’s trip is the zoo, another might travel to Europe or Africa.

$400-$800/trip


A laptop

More and more common in private schools, especially for older children, are laptops for every student. A school may require a computer with certain hardware and software necessities so it is best to get a detailed list of requirements from the school. In many cases, a used laptop that is a couple years old could be all that your child needs.

$2,000/3 years


Uniforms

Many schools have parents that run second-hand uniform sales, reducing the cost of uniforms significantly. It is also a way for parents to receive some money back when their children graduate or move on to a different school.

$800

—With files from David Field
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