HomeSchool Reform NewsReports: California Private School Tuition Much Lower Than Public Schools' Per-Student Costs

Reports: California Private School Tuition Much Lower Than Public Schools’ Per-Student Costs

By Bethany Blankley

(The Center Square) – The majority of private schools in California provide education that costs less than what taxpayers pay for public school education, several reports show.

During the 2019-20 school year, the estimated spending in California’s K-12 public schools – when taking into account capital spending and the state’s supplemental contribution to CalSTRS – was nearly $21,000 per pupil, the California Policy Center estimates. With additional state and federal funding allocated to the public school system through Gov. Gavin Newsom’s California comeback plan, California’s K-12 public schools will cost taxpayers closer to $25,000 per pupil.

According to, the average tuition for a private school in California is $12,860 per year per student. And according to a 2021 estimate, that number is roughly $14,821 per year per student.

According to these numbers, California public schools cost nearly double that of the average private school in California.

Since March of last year, most of California’s public schools remained closed to in-person instruction despite pleas from parents for them to reopen, whereas private schools provided in-person instruction. Over the past six years, enrollment in the nation’s largest public-school system also saw a steady decline, compared to an explosion in charter school enrollment, specifically among Black and Hispanic students.

According to data from the state Department of Education, there are roughly 489,000 K-12 students enrolled in private schools in the Golden State.

Private School Review’s 2021 directory states that the annual tuition rates for 897 private schools in California ranges from $11,734 for private elementary schools to $20,099 for private high schools. The private school with the lowest tuition is The Learning Experience Early Education Center, which has a tuition of $1,011 per student. The most expensive private school is The Webb Schools, with a $70,840 annual tuition per student.

Of the private schools located in California, 17 have tuitions over $50,000 per year per student; 26 have tuition between $40,000 and $50,000 per year per student; 79 have tuition between $30,000 and $40,000 per year per student, and 113 have tuition between $20,000 and $30,000 per year per student.

Overall, 235 of California’s 897 private schools, or 26%, have tuition over $20,000 per year per student.

The majority of California’s private schools, 456, have an annual tuition per student of less $10,000 per year – at least half of what it costs per student in California public schools.

Since last November, Newsom’s four children ages 4 to 11 attended private school, receiving hybrid and in-person instruction, while the majority of public schools remained closed to in-person instruction. When Newsom claimed he was a “zoom parent” and “living through Zoom school and all the challenge related to it,” the Sacramento Bee said his claim was “mostly false.” His children attended a private school that had been open since October of 2020.

Originally published by The Center Square. Republished with permission.


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