How much you need to earn to send your kids to private school in South Africa

 ·23 May 2024

It is recommended that no more than 15% of your annual salary should be spent on education, meaning you would have to earn over R2.5 million annually to enrol your kid at South Africa’s most expensive private school.

Private schools in South Africa have hiked fees for 2024, with at least six now charging more than R350,000 a year for boarding and tuition.

Hilton College in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands retains its title as the most expensive school in the country.

Its annual fees (which only allow for boarding) are R397,660 for 2024, up 7.5% from last year.

MichaelHouse, St Andrew’s College in Makhanda, Roedean School for Girls, St John’s College, and Kearsney College have joined the R350,000-plus club.

Private school fees for day schoolers increased at an average of 7.3% across the schools we assess each year.

For boarding schools, a similar pattern was seen, with an average increase of around 7.3% and the upper end at 9.4%.

According to Marnus Mostert, a franchise principal and financial adviser, education is typically considered well before schooling age, and, therefore, fees are typically paid out of or supplemented using a savings vehicle.

However, assuming a parent or household hasn’t saved for schooling, it is advisable (although this would be different in each household) to allocate no more than 10-15% of your annual household income to education expenses, said Mostert.

When considering the fees of two of South Africa’s most expensive private schools—Hilton and MichaelHouse—a single parent or household would have to earn roughly between R2.4 million and R2.7 million, respectively, to enrol a single child at the schools.

This works out to approximately R200,000 to R225,000 per month.

However, it must be noted that Hilton and Michaelhouse are exclusively boarding schools, which means the salary required is far less if you consider some of the top-day schools in South Africa.

The top five most expensive day schools and the salary required to afford their fees are listed in the table below.

SchoolFees 2024Annual salary required (monthly)
Kearsney CollegeR240 900R1.60 million (R133 000)
St John’s CollegeR206 768R1.38 million (R115 000)
Roedean School for GirlsR203 607R1.35 million (R112 500)
Bishops CollegeR199 650R1.33 million (R110 800)
St Mary’s, WaverlyR189 880R1.27 million (R105 800)
Top 5 Average R208 161R1.39 million (R116 000)
Average for 2025*R126 000R840 000 (R70 000)
*Momentum data

The cheapest private school tracked by BusinessTech is St Martins School, with an annual fee of R126,000. This aligns with the expected average cost of a private school in South Africa in 2025, according to data from Momentum.

This requires a salary of R840,000—equating to R70,000 per month.

Mostert also reminded parents that the recommended 10-15% of their annual salary should cover tuition as well as other costs such as uniforms, books, and extracurricular activities, meaning the required salary could be even higher.

When considering the salaries needed to send your child to some of South Africa’s most expensive boarding schools, it shows that those who can afford these schools are among the country’s most wealthy.

Those who can afford the cheapest school (St Martins School) are among the top 5% of income earners in South Africa, while those who can afford Hilton are among the top 1%.

Read: The one university that almost all South Africa’s billionaires went to

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