International / Private School in Switzerland

We have a little one coming soon and i wanted to sound check some assumptions.

I am looking beyond Kita and trying to understand full costs of sending 1 kid (for now) to private / international school like SIS in Zürich. I know this topic may spark debate between public vs private and all the integration issues and etc but would like to think through the financial element first.

  1. I understand SIS cost 25k CHF fee per year. How much more should I consider between travel, food, yearly and summer activities? 5k or more?

  2. how much is net cost after all the allowances and tax deduction?

I understand in Zürich you get 250/month (3k/y) as child support and another 250/month (3k/y) for education allowance. I also understand you can now deduct up to 25k in taxes for children education or so. I have a marginal tax rate of 30%.

Very rough. 25k school fee - 7.5k (30% tax deduction) - 6k (child support and education allowance) + 5k (additional expanses for food, travel and activities) = 16.5k chf net cost per year to send kid to SIS

Does this make sense or it’s more expensive than this?

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You don’t get this combined. You will get 200 CHF/month until child is 12 and then you get 250 CHF/month.


Does it make sense to subtract that for calculating the costs, I suppose yes if u want net costs?
On the other hand if you subtract this allowance shouldn’t you also add the tax saved by the Kinderabzug into this calculation.
Anyhow, but this child allowance is taxable income, so you get only allowance-30% net.
On the other hand, check your employee benefits, many companies top-up the Canton’s children allowance with an additional amount.

Mmh, I think that’s only the max. deduction of 25k coming soon for the Bundessteuer, Canton may follow later, or not. At the moment approx. max. 10k.
For example, an increase from 10k to 25k was rejected by ZH politicians in 2019 with rejection from a very wide spectrum (left to right), so I wouldn’t count on it next 10 years.
(Controversial as for example SVP is against it because family should look after their children themselves & Green/SP is against it because this is tax advantages for the rich.

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Didn’t the people not it down in a referendum, though the politicians accepted it?

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In Geneva cost of private school is not deductible for either cantonal or federal tax. I would be surprised and interested to know if that is really deductible in ZH!

In GE you get:

300 CHF /m child support for the 1st kid if parents are working. It would be incorrect to count this as a “saving” of private school as you get it regardless

10k CHF deducted from taxable income for cantonal tax per child regardless of education. For federal tax it is less (maybe 4000 CHF? would need to check)

You can deduct ~25,000 CHF from taxable income for Cantonal tax per child for childcare upon providing receipt and /or name and address and salary certificate of nanny. This is ~cost of creche. For the same item in Federal taxes the deductible is capped at ~10,000 CHF.

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I’ve same thoughts some time ago without looking at the whole numbers, but it was more public cost vs private cost

SIS 25k
In my case public, Hort 1800 monthly and not always opened so need to look for extra activities with holidays… it’s around 18k + 2000 in activities to cover the gap between our holidays(5 weeks) and school holiday
So the GAP is only 5k.

Main point that I’ve seen is that SIS you put 25k every year until school is finished. The need of Hort is reducing over the years so you will have available the cash to expend in other things.

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Thank you all. That is very helpful.

Is there anyone here that he/she is actually send kids to SIS or other private school to understand their view and all additional hidden costs?

I know it’s not very mustachian spending extra money on education while you can get for free later on -:slight_smile: but still keen to hear views


May I ask why? Genuinely interested as that’s a debate around my social circle too. As someone who’s gone through the whole swiss public school system (as a foreigner/refugee) all the way from kindergarten to masters I always thought of private schools as “bought degrees”. I’ve seen my uncle spend thousands on my cousins to get some weird diplomas after Oberstufe when they weren’t able to get work and all of them seemed pointless. I’m curious as to why you consider it. I kind of understand paying for Montessori and similar as you don’t trust or like the school system, but SIS seems like a traditional school like any private one.

Feel free to ignore this or for any mod to make a branching discussion thread out of this, I don’t mind.


Thank you for your question. Slightly off topic from the financial angle but I still need to address this at some point.

Context: We are an European couple. We studied in UK, France and overseas. We spent close to 10 years in the UK and over 2 in Switzerland. We speak 2-3 languages but not German yet. We love Switzerland and hope to stay here long term. We both work for multinationals. We still need to decide public or private beside the pure financial elements.

Some pros and cons I am contemplating for private.


  • greater opportunity for the kid to end up in university. I understand in CH you have education and vocational training. Ending up in educational training and then uni requires the kid to do well early on. I was a late bloomer. Therefore if I would like the kid max opps to end up in uni, private may seem a better option.
  • English like mother tongue. We are not mother tongue. Doing full studies in German and English hopefully will give the kid full proficiency in both languages should he/she decide to one day study in the UK or USA
  • networking / circle of friends. This is both a pro and a con. It would be nice to have parents of the child international as we are to create some additional friendships and also network for future jobs
  • idea is to stay here but there are some low possibilities we may have to relocate in the future


  • money
  • risk of change. Linked to above. If we get hit on our income permanently. At some point we would need to consider moving to public. This may or may not be feasible or easy for the kid
  • kid friends. If pupils change and move often in the school, the kid may end up having very few or none long term friends. I do still think he / she may end up having friends with kids’ neighbors. However, I recognize also less Swiss Swiss friends that may help in terms of network
  • loss of identity. He/she will grow up as international and May feel lost
  • German proficiency. If school is bilingual I am less concern but still considering as he/she may end up speaking English at school and also no German at home

Pls feel free to comment and provide your view alongside other in the group.


My answer was so long I answered OP in a PM. If anybody is interested in a discussion I’m happy to post it here too but I didn’t want to derail the conversation from the financial discussion.


I understand where you’re coming from, and I think I can at least partially give advice, altough from a financial standpoint it seems your children will grow up on the other spectrum from me :slight_smile: which is good for them and you!

I think the swiss school system is good. There is a lot of room for improvement, but generally. There is not a focus (at least while I was growing up, I am in my thirties now) on reading comprehension, creativity or individuality. I studied the french revolution about a billions times, but we never touched upon 20th century history. We never learned about financial literacy. Just to name a few examples.

On the other hand it’s a great system for anybody to work themselves up (I grew up in a school system with 6 primary, 2-3 Oberstufe and then depending on your goals 4 years of Mittelstufe/Gymnasium, Zurich is a little different). It’s actually the perfect system for a late bloomer. I did good to great in grades 1 - 6, average to bad 7 - 8 but somehow passed the exam to get into Gymnasium. Did very bad at Gymnasium at first, so that I had to repeat a grade and then excelled to finish my masters in medicine. I guess it clicked then and there. I have friends who did vocational training in carpentry, went to get their Matura later on and are now doctors. The door is never closed here in regards to schooling which I think is awesome.

This is all dependent on the parents too. I have great parents who put their happiness and free time way below mine. They supported me through the struggles and the years of schooling. Paid for extra tutoring when I struggled. Paid for music lessons, english lessons, sports when they both worked two jobs. I knew kids who were thrown to the wayside because they couldn’t manage the system and had no home help.

I grew up bilingual with my mother tongue at home and german at school. I am by no means a natural language learner. To this day I only know a “petit peu” of french even though I had it for 8 years in school. English was picked up in school, but mostly from media for me. But I have been one of the best english speakers in my grades throughout. Most Matura/University graduates are pretty fluent in english here in Switzerland. Kids start English in 3rd grade now that will only improve. German will never be a problem to pick up if you’re here from kindergarten on.

I did an internship in the US and only needed the TOEFL to get in. I didn’t try to get into a US university though. But even if they get an american high school diploma out of the private school, they will have to take the SATs, no? They might not need a english certificate.

I’m not trying to sway you from either school. I think I have a huge bias against private schools.


From my perspective as a lecturer at a local Zurich college, I think this is not quite true. Firstly, the path to an academic degree through vocational training is relatively smooth, and quite a few of our more succesful students followed this path. Secondly, I see very few students that went through a private high school. The quality of the Swiss Gymnasiums is rather high, and seems to do an excellent job of preparing students for relatively hard studies.

As a caveat I have to add that I work in life-sciences, whereas private school student might be more inclined to choose different study directions.


Yes, but not a swiss university.
The ones that I know they ended in a university in UK or USA


Hi, can you please post your answer here too? We are in a similar situation and would like to have all possible perspectives on the same. Thanks.

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FWIW as an info, many of the colleagues in my multinational company are sending kids to bilingual private schools here due to frequent relocation for work, and afaik this is something private schools are taking into account when crafting curricula that can be “transferred” easily.

Discussing about the environment, I was told that there is a weird mix of international expat kids (not necessarily high-income) and high net worth families’ kids in the same classes. This does not mean they mix outside the school, however.

Costs indicated by @SteveDB seem a bit on the lower side compared to bills I’ve seen, though (~30/32k fees).

Since % of the school fees are supported by the company (perk), what impacts somewhat the families are the not-so-optional extracurricular activities on top of the above, although I am not able to quantify those in CHF.

International schools are good only if you wish/must relocate often. The rest of the points are imho false.

Your kid might get in a bullying situation that won’t get solved (money talks)
There are more spoiled kids on private schools than on public.
Bilinguism happens imho if parents don’t speak the language of the school. You have it already solved this point by yourselves.
Late bloomer thing: It’s just false. I know plenty of people that started with an apprenticeship and later finished with masters. It’s just slower, but that’s the point; if you are blowing late, let it be. (My most famous example for a “late bloomer” was a math teacher at uni (later became headmaster) who started as apprentice in constructions. I have no idea what happened to have such a change of vocation .


I posted it in my above comment as an edit.

I would be very grateful if someone could share high level knowledge on how kids “get back” to a University or academic stream in practise.

As an incomer the 2nd statement above worries me a bit about the CH system. It feels like the triage of kids happens at a young age, I assumed it was pretty much irreversible…

Aren’t there lots of CEO who did apprenticeship? I thought that was a highlight of the swiss system to allow that flexibility.

If you want to study more after apprenticeship don’t you just pursue a professional matura (which then gives access to higher education curriculum, like universities).

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I had a nice graph at hand several years ago but I have no idea where I got it and where it is now, sorry.

The system is in place, the problem he mention can be also reversed. If a kid can’t manage it, maybe it’s not his/her field after all. Or maybe he/she is not ready yet. (This is ofc an oversimplification; I know some studies force you to study stuff that will be useless in the future (I’m looking at you, UZH with Latin! :slight_smile: ))

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So I went the most traditional route: Primar - Sekundar - Gymnasium - Universität. There was never a second where I even thought about an apprenticeship, so this is all second hand knowledge. I just saw ma0 posted a link to Basically you can do a Berufsmatura, study at a Fachhochschule later or do an additional year of something called Passerelle and then study at a University. Take a look at the link above.

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