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Are boarding schools always expensive? Budgeting tips

It is perhaps a common perception that boarding schools are invariably unaffordable. While such a stereotype may not always hold true and should not deter one from considering all the education options available, it goes without saying that careful budgeting is important. A breakdown of costs into categories is a helpful way of finding out whether a boarding school suits you and your family.

While the exact amount varies from school to school, the following is an annual estimate for an average school in Europe or America. + Tuition fees: JPY 3,000,000 to 5,000,000 + Boarding accommodation fees: JPY 3,000,000 to 5,000,000 + Sundry charges: JPY 1,000,000

It is worth noting that for a Japan-domicile student to go to a boarding school domestically, the cost can be lowered by as much as half of the above.

Tuition fees

Generally speaking, boarding schools employ highly qualified teachers to teach small class sizes and provide plenty of individual tuition. This is reflected in higher tuition fee levels. Yet, it is worth pointing out that day school students in Japan would still incur an annual cost of approx. JPY 1,000,000 should they seek extra tuition at a tutorial centre after school.

Many schools offer scholarships which often cover up to 30% of tuition fees. For foreign expats, their employers may also subsidise their children’s school fees.

Boarding fees

The cost of boarding accommodation varies greatly between countries, depending also on the general cost of living. This cost is worthwhile, though, as the alternative option of parents moving with their children to another country and sending them to a day school is even costlier.

Boarding schools do not usually accept students who commute to and from campus on a daily basis. This is for educational reasons, as they have a curriculum and extra-curricular programme which would not be feasible except in a full boarding environment.

Sundry charges

The other miscellaneous costs a student may incur must not be overlooked. These include travel expenses for when boarding houses are closed during longer holidays, e.g. summer and Christmas vacations, and students have to return home. Some countries make it a legal obligation to hire guardians for underage students who can deal with emergencies on parents’ behalf. At some schools, it is compulsory to pay for extra tuition if a student’s academic performance raises concerns.

As mentioned, all these can add up to about JPY 1,000,000 per year, but can be 50% cheaper if one chooses a boarding school in Japan.