42 States Where Private School Costs Less Than Public School
- Public elementary and secondary schools, which include charter schools, spend an average of $15,205 per student.
- In more than three-quarters of the states, the cost to attend private school is lower than the cost to attend public school.
- The state with the lowest average private school cost is South Dakota.
Parents might assume that sending their children to private school is too expensive. But in most states, the average annual private school tuition is actually less than the average amount spent per child in a U.S. public school, including charter schools.
The average amount that a public elementary or secondary school, including charter schools, in the United States spends per student is $15,205 in 2021, according to Public School Review. The national average for annual private school tuition in 2021 is approximately $11,645, according to Private School Review. The difference is that parents foot the bill for private schools, whereas the state foots it in public schools.
States Where Private School Is Less Expensive
In 42 states, the average private school cost is less than the average annual per-pupil public school expenditure. Those states, and the average private school tuition in each of those states for 2021, according to Private School Review, are:
|State||Average Cost of Private School|
Choosing the Best School Doesn’t Mean Choosing the Most Expensive
School choice allows public education funds to be used for any type of school — public, private, charter, even home schooling. The money that is allocated to each child from the public school budget essentially follows the child to the type of school the parent selects.
This doesn’t mean that you’ll save money if you send your child to private school: Public schools are funded by taxes that you would pay regardless of where your child is educated, or whether you have children in school or not. But it raises some interesting issues around the cost to educate a child, and the issue of school choice. When looking at the schools available to their children, parents have several education quality factors to consider because a high or low cost does not automatically correlate with the quality of the school, whether public, charter or private.
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Cynthia Measom contributed to the reporting for this article.
Last updated: Aug. 10, 2021