COVID-19 pandemic puts the brakes on private school fee increases

private school girls walk into school

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the Australian economy, the effects of which became evident in our 2021 School Fees Report. Our analysis of school fees from 400 non-Government schools found that there was a substantial drop in the rate of fee increase, with the average increase across Australia falling from 2.83% in 2020 to 1.05% this year.

We found that every state and territory, except for the ACT, followed the national trend and had much lower average increases in fees compared to 2020.

average % change in fees

School fee inflation has been in decline over the past 4 years, with the economic impact of COVID-19 accelerating this trend.

school fee inflation over time

Impact of the second lockdown in Victoria

Victoria had the lowest average fee increase in the country at 0.40%, well below the national average of 1.05%. Victoria also experienced the largest drop in school fee inflation, falling by 2.75% from last year’s average fee increase in Victoria of 3.16%.

change in average increase compared to 2020

Compared to the rest of the country, Victoria has the highest number of schools that did not increase their fees. Almost half of the schools in the state (47%) kept their fees steady, with 6% of schools decreasing their fees in 2021. As a contrast, only 20% of schools in NSW did not increase their 2021 fees.

More schools across Australia providing fee relief to families

Across Australia many schools kept their fees steady to assist families economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We found that 40% of schools showed no increase in their fees for 2021, in contrast to only 7% of schools in 2020.

There were also a larger number of schools that decreased their fees this year to provide fee relief for families, from 2% in 2020 to nearly 10% in 2021.

% of schools with no fee increase

Over half of higher fee schools (Year 12 fees of $30,000 and above) did not increase their fees this year. This is a stark contrast to previous years where these schools had maintained a relatively consistent trend of fee increases of between 3% to 4%. Among these higher fee paying schools that did not increase their fees were a notable number of the most expensive schools across the country.

Most expensive school still in Victoria but NSW catching up

Despite Victoria facing the economic impacts of a second wave lockdown and many schools not increasing their fees, they still hold the top spot for the most expensive school in the country at $42,792. This was followed by NSW at $41,870, WA at $29,632, Queensland at $29,450, SA at $27,900, ACT at $26,425 and Tasmania at $20,420.

top school fee by state

While Victoria has consistently made up a majority of the most expensive schools in Australia, the economic impacts of the second wave lockdown has led to a drop in Victorian schools in the highest fee ranking, with NSW taking over.

Download the full report

Our goal for the School Fees Report is to shine a light on private school fee trends on both national and state levels to help families better understand how they can manage these costs.

To download the full report and see our full analysis visit

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