Ten SA boarding schools now charge more than R270,000 per year

Business Insider SA
    Aerial photo of Hilton's school grounds (Facebook,
    Aerial photo of Hilton's school grounds (Facebook, Hilton College)
    • Three of South Africa's most elite boarding schools now cost in excess of R300,000 per year for tuition and boarding.
    • This is almost double the fees of some of the country's top university residence and undergraduate fees.
    • Although all but one school chose to increase school fees for the 2021 year, the increases were muted compared to previous years.
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    South Africa’s most expensive boarding school costs over R330,000 per year - and all of the top ten schools cost above R271,000.

    Hilton College is, once again, comfortably the most expensive school in South Africa - and after a R9,660, or 3% increase, for 2021, its R331,550 annual fees are almost R20,000 per year more expensive than its nearest fee "rival", Michaelhouse.

    This fee covers tuition and full boarding - but parents are required to pay some additional expenses like a “consolidated fee” of R450 per term, and undisclosed amounts for pupils who participate in golf, rowing, or canoeing.

    READ | South Africa’s most expensive day school now costs R200k per year - with many close behind

    For new entrants, as with most elite schools, there’s also a non-refundable acceptance fee - in the case of Hilton College, this is R82,887.50 that “must be paid to the school as a contribution to the school's development programme”.

    For the first time, there are now three South African boarding schools that cost in excess of R300,000 per year - Hilton College, Michaelhouse, and St Andrew’s College, Grahamstown.

    In most instances, boarding schools charge a flat rate for both tuition and lodging - but in cases where schools also offer places to day pupils, Business Insider combined the two totals for Grade 12 pupils boarding on a per-term basis, and took the best case scenario of an upfront annual payment to determine the final costs.

    Those that do stipulate boarding fees as separate line items in their fee schedules tend to charge between R115,000 and R125,000 per year for the ability to live and eat on campus. 

    By way of comparison, a private room in first tier accommodation at the University of Cape Town, with three catered meals per day, costs about R95,000. A typical undergraduate degree at the same institution costs between R60,000 and R70,000 per year, which when combined with the residence fees is in some cases is about half the cost of South Africa’s high-end boarding schools.

    Although the top three most expensive schools now all cost in excess of R300,000 per year, the remaining elite boarding schools aren’t far behind.

    Roedean School and St John’s College are now charging above R290,000 per annum for the first time. And the remaining five schools in the top 10 cost between R271,000 and R290,000.

    Subdued price hikes

    Like the country’s most expensive day schools, South African boarding schools have trimmed their year-on-year increases in 2021. 

    St Andrew’s College Grahamstown and Kingswood College (a new entrant into the top 10) saw the biggest hikes - both increased their annual fees by around 5%, around R14,550 and R12,960 per year respectively.

    Kearsney College, the country’s most expensive day school, hiked its fees by about R12,430, or 4.5%.

    The rest of the country’s boarding schools chose somewhat more modest fee increases for 2021 - most stuck to increases around the 3% mark. Just one, Bishops Diocesan College, chose not to increase fees at all for the 2021 school year.

    These increases are roughly half those of 2020s - for that school year, the majority of pricey boarding schools saw it fit to increase their fees by 7%.

    Here’s how fees at South Africa’s elite private schools compare:

    How SA's boarding school fees compare.
    How SA's boarding school fees compare.

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