One of the main building at Hilton College (Facebo
Hilton College (Facebook, Hilton College)
  • Six of South Africa's elite boarding schools now charge more than R300,000 for one year, for tuition and boarding.
  • This is more than double the cost of a first year undergraduate degree, while staying in catered residence, at some local universities.
  • Unlike last year, when boarding school increases were muted, each school in the top ten increased their fees by more than R10,000 for the year.
  • Here are the most expensive boarding schools in South Africa for 2022.
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South Africa's most expensive boarding school now costs R342,155 per year - and all schools in the top ten now cost over R280,000.

Six of these schools now charge well over R300,000.

Hilton College is still the most expensive boarding school in the country, as it has been for several years. This year, the school increased fees by an effective 3.2%, taking board and tuition costs to R342,155. 

Michaelhouse, its rival in both rugby and fees, is still in second place. With its bigger 5% increase for 2022, Michaelhouse costs R328,000 for the year - R14,155 less than Hilton.

Fees for these elite schools cover tuition and full boarding and usually include minor medical attention and access to libraries, a sanatorium, and laundry services. But in most cases, parents must pay additional levies, some of which are optional, and fees for some sporting and extracurricular activities.

See also | The most expensive day schools in South Africa for 2022 - with one well over R200,000 per year

Many schools also charge non-refundable acceptance fees for new entrants. At Hilton, this is more than R80,000, which they consider a donation to the school's development programme. Michaelhouse also charges South African residents a non-refundable acceptance fee of R39,050.

2022 also marks the first year that six schools in the top ten now charge over R300,000. Last year, that count was just three. Roedean School, St John's College, and Kearsney College join St Andrew's College Grahamstown, Michaelhouse, and Hilton College in the plus-R300k club.

More than first year university in catered residence

In most instances, boarding schools provide a combined rate for boarding and tuition - but those that split out the costs charge around R120,000 per year for the boarding element. 

By way of comparison, a double room at most first-tier residences at the University of Cape Town, including three meals a day, costs between R80,000 and R90,000 per year. At the University of the Witwatersrand, a year-long stay in residence with 19 meals per week costs approximately R83,000.

And with some undergraduate degrees costing about R60,000 per year, a single year of Grade 12 at these boarding schools will cost close to double what first-year studies while staying in res will pay.

Increases are back

Increases are also back for the 2022 academic year. Last year, after Covid-19 forced many pupils into homeschooling and resulted in difficult economic times, several schools chose to increase school fees by less than 3%. Bishops Diocesan College even decided not to increase fees at all. And in total, the highest increase between 2020 and 2021 was 5%.

Although fee increases for the 2022 year are not dramatic, they're up across the board with an average increase of 4.9% versus last year's 3.2%. 

In rand and percentage terms, the most significant increase belongs to St Andrew's School for girls who charge R18,925, or 7%, more than they did last year. Hilton's increase of 3.2%, or R10,605, is the lowest in the top ten.

Here's how fees at South Africa's elite private boarding schools for 2022 compare:

Comparison of South Africa's most expensive boardi
Comparison of South Africa's most expensive boarding schools for 2022

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