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Families Can Pay as Little as $649 for Ontario Independent Schooling


April 25, 2023

OTTAWA, ON – With Ontario independent school enrollment rising 25% between 2006–07 and 2020–21 according to Statistics Canada, it’s important for media, politicians, and parents to get a better understanding of this important school sector. One persistent myth is that independent schools are all bastions of wealth and privilege. In its latest research brief, What Ontario Parents Pay for Independent Schooling, Cardus surveyed 21 independent school principals about independent schooling costs:

  • The total annual cost ranged from a low of $649 per family to a high of $26,050 per student.
  • The median and mean total cost to parents were $13,525 and $11,910 per student, respectively.
  • Considering only tuition and accounting for financial aid, about half of the surveyed schools estimated that they enroll some students at $5,000 or less per year.

Of the 21 principals surveyed, 19 disclosed their financial models. We found:

  • Seventeen of 19 schools did not have a profit motive when setting tuition rates.
  • Ten schools were registered charities, seven were non-profit organizations, and only two were for-profit businesses.

“Parents, politicians, and the media need to look beyond the few ‘elite’ schools clustered in Toronto to get a truer idea of what independent schooling costs in Ontario,” said David Hunt, education program director at Cardus and author of the research brief. “Many schools find creative solutions to make their schools financially accessible. It’s a myth that most of Ontario’s independent schools just serve the rich.”

What Ontario Parents Pay for Independent Schooling had at least three participating schools from four of Ontario’s five regions (West, East, Central, and Toronto), as well as participation from urban, suburban, small town, and rural schools, and all program levels (elementary-only, secondary-only, combined elementary/secondary). Most respondents were from religious schools, but four “special emphasis” schools and one “top tier” school also participated.

Read the full research brief online on the Cardus website.

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Daniel Proussalidis

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