Valuing an MCDS Education

The life-long benefits of a strong work ethic, self-confidence, creative thinking, and a love of learning are difficult to quantify. While MCDS tuition remains well below the average tuition cost for US independent schools, we recognize the significant commitment each family must make to join the MCDS community. MCDS works individually and confidentially to offer various payment plans, tuition assistance, and/or merit scholarships to bring an MCDS education within financial reach.

The actual cost of educating a student at MCDS exceeds the tuition charged. Like many independent schools, MCDS is committed to building a culturally and economically diverse student body, and keeping tuition reasonable is critical to our success. A robust Annual Fund raises tax-deductible funds to make up the gap. Please consider putting MCDS at the top of your charitable giving.

GradeEnrollment DepositTuitionBalance
Pre-K (a.m. only)$1,000$11,000$10,000
Pre-K (full-day)$1,000$14,800$13,800
Grades 1—4 (Lower School)$1,000$17,600$16,600
Grades 5—8 (Middle School)$1,000$18,200$17,200
Grades 9—12 (High School)$1,000$19,100$18,100

Additional variable fees are assessed depending on grade level.  Please see breakdown below.

Payment Plans

For your convenience, MCDS offers families the following school-administered tuition payment plans through our online tuition service. Check, electronic funds transfers, or credit card payments are accepted.:

  • One payment—Full tuition is due in August.
  • Two payments—Billed in August and December. (A service charge is applied)
  • Eleven payments—Billed in August through June. (A service charge is applied)

Wisconsin Tuition Tax Deduction

Parents may deduct up to $4,000 of tuition per student in grades Kindergarten through eight, and up to $10,000 of tuition per high school student. Use the identifying number (FEIN) 39-1832986 for the Schedule PS Private School Tuition form.

Use of Section 529 Plans to Pay Tuition

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 contains a provision that allows use of Section 529 savings to pay for private K-12 education up to $10,000 per year, per child starting in 2018. Establishing and funding a Section 529 plan can provide significant tax benefits. See your investment advisor and CPA for more information.

Transportation Reimbursement

Reimbursement for your transportation expenses may be available depending on your home school district. Qualifying districts in Dane County include:

  • Madison Metropolitan
  • Middleton-Cross Plains
  • Waunakee
  • Deforest

Commutes need to be further than two miles and other restrictions may apply.  Please check with your district.

Tuition Assistance

A generous tuition assistance financial aid program supports our efforts to enroll qualified students regardless of financial status. Our robust need-based program is available to students in Kindergarten through grade 12 and is awarded annually.  Since eligibility for tuition assistance is need-based, rather than income-based, we can take into consideration all of the demands on a family budget. These may include multiple children at an independent school, caring for elderly parents, changes in job status, and more. Nearly 40% of MCDS families receive tuition assistance.

Grants, not loans

MCDS tuition assistance comes in the form of grants based on the financial need of the applying family. These grants are not loans and require no repayment. For each applying candidate, we use an outside company to formulate a grant amount that covers the difference between the cost of tuition and what the family can afford to pay. The goal with our financial aid process is to provide a program that is simple, streamlined, and completely confidential.

Financial Aid Application and FAQ

Apply for Financial Aid here.

Questions? Learn more on our Financial Aid FAQs page.

Please note, tuition assistance is not available for pre-kindergarten and international students.

Prairie Hawk Merit Scholarships

New students applying for middle school or high school can apply for the Prairie Hawk Merit Scholarship, awarded to students demonstrating academic excellence, personal responsibility, integrity, and citizenship. Learn more about this program here.

  • Eligible scholars: New students applying to seventh through eleventh grades
  • Merit scholarship award: The Prairie Hawk Scholarship exists to support the MCDS mission, supporting a “diverse and able student body.”
  • Award levels are at the discretion of the Prairie Hawk Scholarship committee.
  • Renewability: Awards may be renewable each year through graduation from MCDS High School.
  • Submission deadline: Students who apply for admission by the application deadline of February 15 for the following academic year are eligible.


Additional variable expenses by grade


  • Uniforms (not required for Pre-K). Our MCDS used uniform sales provide many discounted options.
  • School supplies


  • Bus transportation
  • Lunch
  • Milk
  • School portraits/yearbook
  • Extended Day program
  • Extracurricular activities, theatre productions, and athletics
  • ABRSM music fees
  • Summer Discovery program (June through August)
  • Annual Fund donation


  • Uniforms (Our MCDS used uniform sales provide many discounted options).
  • School supplies 
  • Technology Fee: MCDS will provide students in grades five through eight with a Chromebook including pre-loaded applications and licenses. MCDS will also take on the burden of performing minor repairs, while students will take the device to and from school and keep the device after the eighth grade year. This Chromebook program necessitates a one-time $250 technology fee per middle school student.


  • Bus transportation
  • Lunch
  • Milk
  • School portraits/yearbook
  • Extended Day program
  • Extracurricular activities, theatre productions, and athletics
  • Eighth grade class trip to Washington, DC (student fundraising can offset this expense)
  • Various music program expenses (instrument rental, ABRSM/WSMA competition fees, etc.)
  • Summer Discovery program (June through August)
  • Annual Fund donation


  • Uniforms (Our MCDS used uniform sales provide some discounted options).
  • School supplies
  • Laptop or Chromebook
  • Graduation fee (grade 12 only)
  • International student fee (International students only):  In order to cover the additional resources involved with supporting international students, there is an international student tuition fee of $2,500 for the first year and $1,000 per year for each year after.


  • Bus transportation
  • Lunch
  • Milk
  • School portraits/yearbook
  • Extracurricular activities, theatre productions, and sports
  • Various music program expenses (instrument rental, ABRSM/WSMA competition fees, etc.)
  • Dances/Socials (Prom, Homecoming, etc.)
  • Exchange programs with Ecuador, Spain or Japan  (student fundraising can offset this expense)
  • IB Diploma testing fees (required for IB Diploma candidate students only)
  • Annual Fund donation


For more information regarding tuition, tuition assistance, and the Prairie Hawk Merit Scholarship, please contact our enrollment office at

We were concerned about the affordability of educating both of our children at MCDS. The personal interaction and partnership with the school helped alleviate these fears. We are very grateful.

—Lower School Parent

Included in Tuition

World-proven curriculum and teaching methods that deliver superior results, exceeding local and national test levels.

An independent, non-profit school; a self-governing body free from politics and bureaucracy.

A 8:1 student/teacher ratio and smaller class sizes.

A character education program, embracing values such as respect, honesty, responsibility, and community service.

Semi-private musical instrument lessons, beginning with piano in First Grade.

A comprehensive college advising program, beginning in Ninth Grade. 95% of graduates have been offered college merit awards.

Accessible and dedicated faculty, providing continuous communication of individual progress.

A full day of school, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with convenient after-school activities, athletics, library, and child care options.

A motivated and inclusive peer group which enjoys and values learning.

A mindset of limitless possibilities, where no boundaries are set on what your child can achieve.

A community where each student is truly known and valued for their individuality.

Work ethic, self-confidence, leadership, and teamwork skills that flourish from great expectations.

Important subjects often missing from other programs: Science, Spanish, Music, Art, PE—all with specialized teachers beginning in Lower School.

A well-kept, secure facility with modern science labs, an expansive gymnasium, inspiring classrooms and a prairie-filled 40-acre campus.

Textbooks, workbooks, classroom materials, lab and art supplies, field trips, outings, retreats.
(Variable expenses not included are listed separately by grade.)