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  1. Private Schools
February 16, 2024

The most expensive private schools in America

The most expensive private schools in America are mostly located in New England, between Connecticut and Massachussetts

By Spear's

The Spear’s Schools Index 2024 shines a light on the 100 best schools in the world. But often, a high quality education comes at a price – as the most expensive schools in America prove.

These five schools, all featured in the Best North American Private Schools Index 2024, charge more than $60,000 per year. For three of these schools, that price is for boarding students who capitalise on the extraordinary opportunities offered by a life on sprawling campuses.

However two of the most expensive schools in America charge $60,000-plus for day education. Perhaps unsurprisingly, both are located in New York City.

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In cases where there is a range of fees, the most expensive has been used. The difference between boarding and day fees is indicated where appropriate.

What are the most expensive schools in America?

The Taft School, Connecticut: $72,000 (boarding), $53, 500 (day)

Taft’s motto, Non ut sibi ministretur sed ut ministret; (Not to be served, but to serve) created by the school’s founder, Horace Dutton Taft – brother of US President William Howard Taft – 125 years ago continues to be the school’s guiding ethos.  

Set in a beautiful 226-acre campus in Western Connecticut, the school’s facilities  include a vast library, 45,000 square-ft science and maths building, two theatres, two ice hockey rinks and an 18-hole golf course. 

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The Taft School offers a vibrant, rigorous academic programme with more than 200 courses on offer every semester. 

Despite the emphasis on study, students are encouraged to step away from their books, with character development and leadership an integral part of the Taft mission. Through initiatives such as the Center for Leadership and Service, leadership seminars and community service projects, students are invited to develop the values of empathy, integrity, and social responsibility. 

The vast majority of the school’s student body are boarding pupils, in line with the founder’s belief that ‘a great advantage of boarding school is that it gives opportunities for students to get out of themselves’. 

Choate Rosemary Hall, Connecticut: $68,380 (boarding), $52,880 (day)

The alma mater of royalty, media executives and one US president (JFK), Choate Rosemary Hall was founded following the 1971 merger of The Choate School for boys and Rosemary Hall for girls.

Today, Choate students have access to state-of-the-art facilities in a breathtaking location: a 460-acre campus in Wallingford, Connecticut. The school offers six signature programmes that allow students to delve more deeply into a specific area of interest, whether that is robotics, the environment or global leadership.

School doesn’t end at 3pm; rather, the nurturing curriculum spills over from academics in the classroom to clubs, sports and activities that take place across the boarding school’s campus.

Phillips Exeter Academy, New Hampshire: $64,789 (boarding), $50,604 (day)

Phillips Exeter Academy is located in Exeter, a southern New Hampshire town. Founded in the 18th century, it is now a co-educational boarding school with more than 1,000 students from the US and 33 other countries.

There is a centuries-old tradition of academic excellence and a commitment to admitting students regardless of their household income. Nearly 50 per cent of students receive financial aid and families earning less than $75,000 pay no tuition.

The school boasts a student to teacher ratio of 5:1 and offers more than 450 courses in 18 subject areas. There is also the opportunity to study on five continents.

Unlike some school campuses, Phillips Exeter academy is very much at the heart of the town, with dormitories, classrooms and co-curricular facilities located within a collection of buildings.

The school’s former pupils include giants of American business and culture, such as Mark Zuckerberg and the novelist John Irving.

Trinity School, New York: $64,100 – $64,600 (day)

With its tailored educational approach, luxurious amenities, global opportunities, and an elite network of alumni, Trinity School prides itself on offering an educational experience that prepares students to thrive post-graduation. 

Trinity ensures that each student receives the support they need to excel both academically and personally with a tailored education, small class sizes and a comprehensive curriculum that emphasises creativity and leadership skills.

The oldest continuously operating school in Manhattan – it was established in 1709 – Trinity’s impressive alumni network is a valuable resource for students and graduates alike, Trinity provides students with mentorship, internship, and networking opportunities.

The school’s world-class athletic facilities and performing arts centres elevate it to one of the best – and most expensive – in the world.

Riverdale Country School, New York: $63, 605 per year

Located across two campuses spanning more than 27 acres in the Bronx, New York, Riverdale Country School, a co-educational, independent day school for children from pre-kindergarten through to twelfth grade, has an illustrious history. 

Established in 1907, Riverdale is renowned for its rigorous curriculum that promotes independent minds, creativity and interdisciplinary learning. 

[See also: How to get your child into private school in the UK: the expert guide]

Alongside academic life, there is a myriad of athletics, extracurricular clubs, and activities for students to explore their interests away from the classroom. 

The school often ranks highly in best high school lists and pupils regularly go on to the top US and international universities. 

Collegiate School, New York: $63, 400 (day)

Collegiate‘s philosophy is simple: happy children do well. Collegiate challenges students to excel academically and reach their full potential through a programme that encourages problem-solving, and intellectual inquiry.

This outlook is applied to all aspects of school life, with Collegiate offering an education that extends beyond the core subjects. 

The school, which claims to be the oldest in the US, combines academic excellence with a superb sporting legacy, perhaps not surprising given the impressive on-site facilities that include seven pitches, netball and tennis courts. As a result there are abundant opportunities for sport, music, service and co-curricular activities. 

Beyond academics, Collegiate places a strong emphasis on character development and moral education through programmes such as the Ethics Institute and community service initiatives. Collegiate, known until 2022 as Colston’s School, strives to instil strong values into pupils, to build self-confidence, communications skills and resilience, all of which combine to produce what is known as ‘the Collegiate character’.

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