Guide To School Fees, Debentures, And Costs In Hong Kong

International And Private School Costs In Hong Kong

School fees in Hong Kong

The economic downturn may have dampened investment incentives and tightened family budgets, but it has not discouraged many parents from sending their children to international or private schools in Hong Kong. Little Steps’ Education Partner, ITS Education Asia, offers tips and recommendations for navigating the price of schooling in Hong Kong.


    Tuition at an international school can be quite high, reaching HK$200,000 a year for Primary level. To get your child started at school, you will find yourself paying for application fees, enrolment fees, building maintenance costs, extra –curricular activities, school trips….with even more hidden costs. A few tips to help manage it all?

    *  It is worth noting that while some costs may seem high, other things are often included within the school fees, such as technology, books, and classroom materials. It is important to check with your prospective schools to find out more about the potential fees and all the extra hidden costs.

    *  If you want your child to be educated in an international school, it is important to start planning early. You need to find out what you can expect to pay from as soon as your child is offered a place – and consider how this will be affected by inflation by the time your child is eligible to enter secondary school.

    *  Once you know the likely cost of your child’s schooling, you then need to consider how you will arrange for the sufficient funds to be available at the right time.


    • The biggest cost you may need to consider is HK$219,000

    • Submitting an application is NOT FREE and is non-refundable. The highest fee is HK$3,000 and the lowest is HK$500.

    • The highest assessment fee is HK$3,000 and the lowest is HK$500

    • A school bus journey can cost between HK$6,000 and HK$9,000 per year.

    • Uniform fees vary from HK$300 to HK$1,250

    • Other costs can include fees for extra-curricular activities, technology, books, school trips, resources, exams, personal I-pads, learning support and foreign language lessons.

    • Some debenture fees are refundable, so you will need to spend as much as HK$500,000 for a refundable debenture upon acceptance.

    • Discounts are offered at only some schools to families who have more than one child attending the school.


    In addition to the obvious costs, there are a number of other costs you should note and budget for after application has been accepted.

    1.  Lump Sum Payments: School debentures are a one-off, upfront payment towards financing a school’s community. However, most debentures are not structured in the strict sense of the word as understood in finance. Additionally, what the public refer to as debentures come under a range of different forms. They are being introduced by new schools in Hong Kong and existing schools are using them to fund projects; where debentures already exist, some schools are introducing high value debentures to give different degrees of priority.

    2.  Capital Note:  A capital note is non-interest bearing, non-refundable and fully transferable.

    3.  Corporate Debenture: A holder of a corporate debenture is entitled to nominate one child to a school at any one time. Nomination accelerates a child’s place on the wait list, but does not guarantee a place. At some schools, a Corporate Debenture is transferable and refundable while others have a life span of eight years from the date of issue and will depreciate to zero over that period.

    4.  Foundation Certificate & Foundation Debentures:  Foundation Certificates and Foundation Debentures are only applicable at Kellett School and are valid for 15 years. A nominated child, upon application, is allocated the highest priority.

    5.  Foundation Certificates:  Are not repayable. When the nominated child leaves the school, a holder of a Foundation Certificate will be entitled to place another nominated child in the year of their choice, subject to the child satisfying the school’s admission criteria.

    6.  Foundation Debentures:  Are repayable after 15 years or may be extended and depreciated over a further 10 years to provide a priority place for up to 25 years. A holder of a Foundation Debenture will be entitled to a place in the year of their choice for the nominated child plus up to two additional siblings upon purchasing a Foundation Sibling Debenture for each additional sibling, subject to each child satisfying the School’s admission criteria.

    7.  Individual Nomination Rights:  The Nomination Rights is a means for students to gain a “fast track” entry to schools. It is non-refundable. An Individual Nomination Right at Discovery College and Renaissance College is HKD400,000. A Nomination Right for an ESF School is HKD$500,000. The Nomination Right guarantees priority on the waiting list and a place subject to interview.

    8.  Individual /Personal Debenture:  Only mandatory at certain schools and all children have to be nominated under this debenture if not already nominated under another.

    9.  Premium School Development Levy (PSDL):  This is a means for a child to gain a “fast track” entry to the Kindergarten (Nursery and Reception) and Primary (Year 1 to Year 6) sections of Discovery Bay International School (DBIS) only. The PSDL is a one off payment of HK$500,000 per child. The PSDL does not confirm sibling rights. Once the named child has commenced enrollment at DBIS, the PSDL is non-refundable and non-transferable.


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