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UAE vs. International Boarding: A Price Comparison

Boarding in the US

Deerfield Academy

Deerfield Academy is a highly selective independent, coeducational boarding school at Deerfield, Massachusetts, United States.

Total for American boarding school average: 241,824 AED
(Worked out on the average American tuition fees of 40,000$)


In the US private schools are usually governed by a private board and therefore not often restricted by the state on curriculum or teaching qualifications. Curricula in the more traditional schools in the US are most likely to be either the Advanced Placement or the International Baccalaureate program.

The US offers several schooling options other than the norm, including residential places for children with special educational needs and military academies which offer conventional education with military style discipline.

The US average annual fees for international students are $45,400 (167,122 AED). Billing is usually done biannually, around August before the school year begins and then again in December, although many schools do allow for monthly payment plans.

Additional fees including sports equipment, laundry, and various school bought add-ons are included on this, so expect to add 15-20% more for each child.

Financial aid is generally not applicable for international students.



So, what does my money buy?
“Prep schools are organised to ensure elite college placement–that’s the whole idea,” says Mitchell L. Stevens, associate professor of education at Stanford University.

In essence, a US boarding school education buys your child a top-notch academic record, access to the top US universities, state-of-the-art facilities and life-long access to influential alumni both past and present.

Teachers are usually holders of advanced degrees, with a wealth of knowledge and experience in their chosen subject. Student/teacher ratios are always small, (around 12 children) and children have 24 hour access to the faculty.

Many boarding schools are ‘feeder’ schools for the Ivy League universities. Phillips Exeter Academy was established in 1781 as a feeder for Harvard, while over the past 5 years, Trinity School in New York sent 41% of its graduates to the ‘Ivies’.

As well as academic excellence, most American boarding schools are known for their distinct and individual culture and focus, and whether parents are looking to develop their child’s sporting prowess, focus on the arts or even go into military officer training, ideally they should research each school and find the best fit. Not only will children then have more opportunity to excel, but settling-in and making friends will be easier too.

Facilities also play a large part in what parents pay for. Equestrian centres, golf courses, courts for every conceivable game, fitness centres and boat houses all offer children the opportunity to try, experience and excel in sports they may not previously have had the opportunity to try.


Additional costs to consider

Student Visas
Student who apply to and have been accepted by a SEVP approved school can apply for a student visa.
US student visa $360 (1,322 AED)

Every country is different and certainly each school differs in what you get for your money. Before parents decide on a school find out exactly what each school includes in the price and what additional costs are expected.

Pocket money, materials, weekend travel expenses and other costs can add between 15 and 20 percent in extra expenditure to the monthly boarding school costs. E.g. Deerfield Academy: $11,000 per year, 40,400 AED.

Website education.costhelper.com estimates that school uniforms in US private schools cost between $400 and 600 for a complete set.
Uniforms: $500 average per year (1,800 AED)

Emirates Airline flights to New York cost between Dhs2,500 and Dhs10,000 per round-trip depending on the time of year and availability.
Flights to New York cost approx: Dhs3,060 x3= 9,180 AED

Additional English Tuition
If childrens’ English is not up to scratch for study in the US, it’s likely parents will have to invest in additional ESL tuition before acceptance.
6 week ESL course in the US with Delphian School, Oregon- average: $6,000 (22,000 AED)


Boarding Schools to consider in the US

Mercyhurst Preparatory School
Where: Pensylvania, US
What: Co-Ed
Boarding from: Grades 9 +
Fees: $49,175 for international and $40,000 for US students Dhs180,600 & Dhs147,000
Academics: 15 International Baccalaureate courses plus college prep
As you would expect, this traditional US school has literally every conceivable team sport available, while offering a sound academic pre-college education.

They say: “Pennsylvania International Academy offers a secure and homelike atmosphere on a 65-acre campus that includes a Residence Hall that is open 24/7 throughout the academic year (including school breaks and holidays), a Fitness Center and a number of indoor/outdoor basketball courts and soccer fields.”

Deerfield Academy
Where: New England, US
What: Co-ed College prep school
Grades Offered: 9 +
Fees: $54,850 Dhs201,500
Academics: 27 AP courses
While Deerfield boasts alumni in various Ivy League schools possibly the biggest selling point are the fees at the school cover a lot: academics, boarding, art supplies, lab equipment use and many weekend campus perks.

What they say, “At Deerfield, we understand heritage to mean more than just the legacy of those who came before. It is an all-encompassing identity and set of core values that the community lives by, accorded by a long line of dedicated students and faculty dating back to 1797.

Wentworth Military Academy
Where: Missouri, US
Type: Co-ed Military College
Boarding: Grades 9 +
Fees: $38,820 per year Dhs142,500

Since 1880 Wentworth has been where boys go for a robust military and academic curriculum. Today its co-ed offering years 9 to 12 the opportunity to live in single sex ‘barracks’ enroll in cadet training and learn integrity, discipline and leadership.

What they say: “As a military school, we bring the same structured approach to study disciplines and academics that we do to all aspects of cadet life. Students have 7 classes per day and for those who need extra help with homework, we have a 2-hour faculty supervised study period for them.”

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