Education Policy: International School - What’s It Going to Cost?
Updated: Jun 6
Education Policy Observations and Advice:
The Ins and Outs of Understanding International School Costs
Part Four in a Series by Timothy Dwyer, President, Bennett International
Why is it so difficult to understand and compare schooling costs?
“What’s the cost of international school in Frankfurt?” I get a question like that very often. And I usually get a perplexed reaction when I answer, honestly and accurately, “it depends.”
Why is it so difficult to provide a simple answer to that question when most schools list their tuition costs on their websites?
By way of explanation, let’s compare costs for a sixth-grade student entering two real international schools in Frankfurt, which I will refer to as “School A” and “School B.” Both are large, popular with expatriate populations, and accredited. For purpose of this illustration, I took actual figures from the schools’ websites and rounded up to the nearest 100 euros. School A lists:
• tuition of €25,100
• a new student registration fee of €1,000 (which then drops to €300 per year for returning students)
• transportation fees of between €2,000 and €3,000 (depending upon where the family lives)
• a capital assessment of €6,000 per year for the student’s first two years at the school, but which then goes away
• a fee of between €1,000 and €2,000 for certain types of language support when required
• additional costs for some meals, activities, and field trips.
Finally, it should be noted that the tuition cost at School A is for all age groups; with the final year costing approximately 25% more than the first.
School B presents a different picture. Tuition is significantly lower for a student in the sixth grade—€16,500—than at School A. But every student must either pay a €6,000 “place reservation fee” or purchase a limited partnership share (€10,300) from the corporation that runs the school. There is also an enrollment fee of €600 for new students, a re-enrollment fee of €200 for returning students, and a late enrollment fee of €900 for students starting in terms 2 and 3. School B outsources its meals and transportation, so one must go directly to those providers to understand those costs. At School B, tuition also increases by about 25% when going from kindergarten to 12th grade. However, School B offers tuition discounts of about 5% per sibling attending at the same time.
Confused yet? Other international schools in the Frankfurt area present yet more variety in their approaches to tuition and fees.
All of which is to say that international school costs can depend upon the age of the child, how long the child stays at the school, the number of children from that family in the school, their language support needs, the transportation needs of the family, and the child’s propensity to participate in extracurricular activities, among other factors.
Our recent survey of global mobility policies suggests that corporate practice regarding the payment of different school costs seems scattershot. That is certainly understandable, given the complexity of international school pricing.
So, what’s the cost of international school in (fill in a destination)?: “It depends…”
Timothy Dwyer, President
Over the years, Bennett International Education Consultancy has worked with hundreds of corporations across the globe, many of them Fortune 500 companies, providing domestic and international school advisement & placement services - preschool through university - to the dependents of relocating employees. In addition to education placement, our team provides customized consulting for corporations with a range of education issues: education policy writing & benchmarking, tuition studies, group move advisement & planning, and remote education solutions.