International Education in Malaysia: Fees and Costs

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For many parents, the cost of sending a child to an international school is a major consideration when looking at various schools and making a decision. Unfortunately, we’re not able to give specific rates, as the can vary among the schools quite considerably. This article specifically gives an overview of the various types of fees and costs that can be incurred.

Though many factors come into play when deciding which international school is the best fit for your child and your family, cost is certainly a significant consideration. Tuition is but one component of what can at times seem to be a bewildering array of fees, and for parents – particularly those new to the international school scene – it is certainly worth brushing up on the various types of fees schools typically charge.

With few exceptions, the days of lucrative compensation packages which cover full international school tuition and fees for the working expat’s child (or children) are largely in the past. Unless your company is among those that still include this in the remuneration agreement, schooling your kids in Malaysia can amount to a substantial investment.

Of course, to meet increasing demand, quality international schools are popping up in Malaysia, covering a wide range of available offerings and the commensurate fees accompanying them. There is not, however, always a clear correlation between price and quality; many schools with fees in the middle range offer a high-quality education and boast impressive student outcomes. As most parents know, the cost is only one part of the equation.

With that, we present an overview of the various types of fees most international and private schools typically impose. Of course, each individual school has its own fee structure; typically these fees are fairly transparent and straightforward on each school’s website. Note that some schools offer discounts for families with more than one child attending the school.

The fees you may encounter are described below. Note that not all schools impose all of these charges.

Application Fee

If imposed, this is almost always a nonrefundable, one-time fee paid upon submission of an application for a child to attend the school.

Registration Fee/Admission Fee

This one-time fee is also generally nonrefundable, and is charged upon the child’s confirmation of acceptance and subsequent enrolment into the school. This fee may also be called an Acceptance Fee, Enrolment Fee, or Entrance Fee.


Once the child’s enrolment has been confirmed by the school, many will require a security deposit to be paid. Typically refundable under clearly defi ned conditions, the deposit usually amounts to an equivalent of one term’s tuition. As tuition fees increase as the child advances through the school, the deposit may need to be “topped up” from one year to the next. This varies among schools, however.

The deposit will be returned once the child graduates from the school, or withdraws, presumably when leaving Malaysia, but this is not usually a condition. For withdrawals, you are required to provide the school with written notice, usually several months before the expected date of withdrawal. Not providing this notice in the timeframe and manner required may result in forfeiture of the deposit, so it’s advisable to ensure you are clear on the conditions for the return of the deposit before placing it with the school.


Term Fee/Tuition Fee

This fee must be paid regularly, usually on a term-by-term basis. This fee is subject to a rather wide variation from school to school, and the payment schedule may differ, as well. Though many payments are required each term, some schools may require payment on an annual, quarterly, or monthly basis. It is common for tuition fees to increase as the child moves up through the school, sometimes significantly so.

Building Fund Fee

This fee, which may be one-time per enrolment or levied on a recurring basis, is charged by some schools to help defray the expenses of upgrades, expansion, and physical improvements to the school. This fee may be charged under other names, but will typically state that it is for the school’s improvement or development.


Some schools will charge a fee to cover the costs of maintaining and upgrading the school’s information and communications technology infrastructure and/or facilities. This fee is generally relatively modest and charged on a onetime or annual basis.

Additional Fees

In an increasing number of international and private schools, the cost of textbooks, meals, uniforms, special course-specific equipment, field trips, and such are not included in the basic tuition fee, and are charged separately. Further, there are optional extras, such as transportation to and from school, extracurricular activities, and annual trips abroad for older students, which are all charged separately.

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