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School Fees

Candid Statistics
School Fees - Figures for 2016
Type Chart Average Annual Fees Change on Year
Day Show Chart £12,939 3.33%
Boarding (day) Show Chart £17,481 3.43%
Boarding Show Chart £30,951 1.92%
Source: Independent Schools Council (Annual Census).

Are independent schools popular?

Although school fees can be a very daunting prospect, independent schools have become very popular. Over 670,000 children attend fee paying independent schools in the UK, that's around 7% of all schoolchildren!


How much will it cost?

This obviously depends on the fees charged by the particular school you send your child to, but average rates are shown below:

Average school fees
School Type Average Annual Fee
(3 terms)
Equivalent for basic rate taxpayers* Equivalent for higher rate taxpayers* Estimate of total between age 5-18**
Day £12,939 £16,174 £21,565 £229,188
Boarding (day) £17,481 £21,851 £29,135 £309,641
Boarding £30,951 £38,689 £51,585 £548,235
Source: ISC (average annual fees only) | * ignores National Insurance Contributions | **assumes fees increase by 5% a year.

Use our School Fees 'How Much' Calculator to discover how much school fees could end up costing you.

School fees unfortunately have a history of rising faster than both inflation and wages, making them increasingly expensive in real terms. Just take a look at the charts in the Candid Stats section at the top of this page.


How could I pay for school fees?

Surplus IncomeGifts From RelativesRe-MortgagingInvestments

This is the simplest option if you’re fortunate enough to have sufficient spare income. Remember, school fees are paid out of income after tax (see above table), so factor this in when working out affordability.

Also beware that if fees continue to rise faster than earnings, you could find yourself struggling in future.

Use our School Fees Affordability Calculator to get a clearer idea of whether you can afford to give your child a private education.


What about 'school fees plans'?

You might come across some providers and financial advisers pushing various 'school fees plans'. There is nothing special about these and there are no magical solutions to funding school fees. These plans are usually just a combination of borrowing and investing. If you do look at such schemes, strip them down so you can see exactly what's involved and double check all fees and commissions, some advisers might package products together to boost their cut.


Scholarships & other assistance

If you really want to send your child to an independent school but the fees are simply out of reach, then not all is necessarily lost.

According to the Independent Schools Council (ISC) around one third of children attending independent fee paying schools receive some form of fees assistance, with scholarships and bursaries being the most common form of assistance.

ScholarshipsBurseries

These are normally awarded to pupils who can demonstrate either excellent all round academic promise or special abilities in the arts, sport or technology.

However, before you get your hopes up you should check with schools to see what's potentially on offer and assess the realistic likelihood your child could qualify. Scholarships rarely fund all fees and could cover as little as 10%.


University/College Fees

If your child goes to univeristy or college after school you may find yourself paying out yet more money. There'll probably be three main expenses:

Tuition FeesAccomodationLiving Expenses

Tuition fees vary between universities and colleges, but the maximum charge for the current school year is £9,000. Your child can normally get a government student loan to cover these fees. Student loans are attractive as interest is based on the inflation rate (effectively making it interest free in real terms) and your child ultimately ends up paying the fees, not you!

As well as a student loan for tuition, your child might also be eligible for a government student loan for maintenace, intended to help cover living costs. The maximum loan for the current school year is £8,200, rising to £10,702 in London.

Your child might also qualify for a student maintenance grant, which doesn't have to be repaid. The maximum grant for the current school year is £3,387 if household income is £25,000 or less. The grant reduces to zero when household income exceeds £42,620. If a grant is paid it could reduce your child's student loan entitlement.

To find out more about student loans, read the relevant section in the Candid Money guide to loans here.

Your child can use the Directgov Student Finance Calculator to get an idea of their student loan and grant entitlement, if any.


School Fees Jargon

Here's some of the more common School Fees jargon you might come across:

JargonMeaning
Boarding SchoolA school where pupils reside for the whole term, only going home during holidays.
BursariesMeans tested financial assistance given to some pupils at private schools.
Day SchoolA school where pupils attend for the day then go home afterwards.
ScholarshipFinancial assistance given to some pupils at privatre schools who demonstrate either excellent all round academic promise or special abilities in the arts, sport or technology.