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BHA Blog: Affordable K-12 Education in San Francisco

Updated: Feb 12

$18,000 a year for an independent K-8 private school in San Francisco, and for 12 months – Is that possible?! Yes, that’s the tuition for our Bertrand D Hsu American & Chinese Bicultural Academy located in Potrero Hill, San Francisco. Compared to other independent private schools, including dual language schools, our tuition is roughly 50% less and includes two (2) more months of school per year.

Why and how can we afford to run a school at such low tuition rates? 

First, we were founded as a truly non-profit school to serve students from working and immigrant families by providing a quality academic, bicultural and character education at an affordable price, not as a money making business. 

Secondly, our founding team members have, combined, decades of experience starting and running private companies, a total of eight  to be exact. That means we allocate our funds on our top priorities, watch our expenses carefully, and get the most “bang for our buck” like a private company that can go out of business if we are not disciplined. 

Thirdly, we keep our priorities top of mind and monitor performance against those priorities all the time.  Our priorities are quality academic, bicultural and character education – our ABCs. We don’t spend money on luxury goods if they don’t contribute meaningfully to our ABCs. The care and mental cycles we put in to offer quality ABCs matter much more than beautifully appointed quarters or dedicated school buses.

Lastly, we strive for efficiency without sacrificing quality.  For example, we leverage AI technology that not only provides individualized education for every student but also helps to free teachers to coach and apply the technical knowledge that students attain;  this makes teaching more enjoyable!

Can public school parents afford our already low tuition?  Many public school families supplement their children’s education with private tutoring. Fees for these classes can amount to several hundreds of dollars per month; not that much lower than the $1,500 per month of tuition at Bert Hsu Academy…and depending upon a family’s finances, they may qualify for our school scholarship program which can lower the tuition even further.

However, more important than the amount spent is the result of spending money to supplement a student’s learning. Piecemeal tutoring often leads to begrudging students and little improvement in academic performance. Conversely, a comprehensive academic, bicultural and character education at Bert Hsu Academy ensures that students are learning, during school, to be a well rounded human being in a thoughtful and happy environment while being allowed to use their time out of school for extracurricular activities.

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