Despite tuition increases, private school enrollment remains steady

Published: Oct. 10, 2016 at 5:45 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 10, 2016 at 8:08 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Average tuition at Honolulu private schools increased by more than $1,000 this school year – to $12,329, a new report shows.

Meanwhile, the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools report put the average private school tuition statewide at $8,663, from $7,535 last year.

Despite the increases private school enrollment remained relatively steady this school year, the association has reported. Some 36,604 students in preschool through 12th grade attend private school statewide, a decrease of nearly 200 students from the 2014-15 school year.

Hawaii has one of the nation's highest rate of private school attendance.

Robert Landau, HAIS executive director, said most tuition increases this school year are aimed at covering rising costs for salaries and operations.

"There are just costs that go up," he said, adding that Hawaii private schools remain a relative deal when compared to similar private schools on the mainland. "Hawaii is an independent school bargain. And many of our schools offer financial assistance."

The HAIS tuition report, released annually, found that eight Hawaii schools now charge $20,000 or more for annual tuition. Their student bodies accounted for 24 percent of all private school attendees statewide.

Some 30 percent of students attend schools on the other end of the spectrum – where tuition is under $7,000. (When Kamehameha Schools is excluded from the calculation, 17 percent of Hawaii private school students attend campuses where the tuition is under $7,000 a year.)

While enrollment remained about the same this school year, some schools did see big dips.

HAIS reported that 38 schools on Oahu experienced enrollment declines, and 11 of those saw the number of students attending drop by more than 20 percent. On the Neighbor Islands, 10 schools reported enrollment decreasing.

In the Honolulu district, where tuition is the priciest, enrollment dropped by 327 students from last school year.

Punahou School had the highest tuition among Honolulu private schools. This school year's average tuition: $22,950. That's up from $20,700 in the 2014-15 school year.

Tuition at Mid-Pacific Institute is $22,100 this school year, from $20,000 the year before.

And Iolani School's tuition is $21,700, up from $18,900 in the 2014-15 school year.

By comparison, per-pupil spending for public school students is about $14,400.

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