A parent whose child is born this year faces half a million dollars in school costs if they choose an independent school in Melbourne from pre-school to year 12.
The projected cost, which is likely to make parents question whether they can afford a private education, is roughly equivalent to the city's median house price.
A public education in Melbourne, while by no means free, is considerably cheaper, costing parents an estimated $65,484 by the end of 2030.
And parents whose children attend Catholic schools in Melbourne for their entire education can expect to pay an estimated $206,692.
The figures, which include fees, extra-curricular activities, clothing, travel and computer costs, have been calculated by the Australian Scholarships Group, based on an education costs survey of 14,000 parents in 2011.
The survey reveals Victoria is the most expensive state in Australia to educate a child in a government school and Melbourne is second only to Sydney when it comes to the cost of a private education in a capital city.
However Victoria is one of the most affordable places to send your child to a Catholic school – Melbourne is the second-cheapest capital city in which to educate children in the Catholic system after Adelaide.
Australian Scholarships Group chief executive officer John Velegrinis said the cost of education had risen at more that twice the rate of inflation over the past 10 years.
"It's frightening what an education can cost. If you have three children you'd like to educate in the Melbourne private school system, you will spend $1.2 million."
So is the cost of a private education worth it?
Christine Delamore, the executive officer of the Victorian Parents Council, which represents non-government school parents, believes it is.
She says non-government schools give students an edge with smaller class sizes, individual attention, quality teachers and the ethos of the school instilled in staff.
Ms Delamore was delighted with the education her daughter received at Firbank Grammar: "It really gave her a great grounding for her first year of university. There were things she had learned in years 11 and 12 that others didn't know in regards to her communications design course and her English written and oral skills were far superior. She said it (a private education) certainly was worth it. Children often don't appreciate what parents have done for them until they leave school and realise they really did gain a good education."
Ms Delamore said while parents often made sacrifices to send their students to private schools, such as both parents working or forgoing holidays "you don't really count the cost over the long term". Jane Caro, the co-author of What makes a good school?, disagrees. "If you are looking at middle class schools in middle class areas, the differences are mostly cosmetic," Ms Caro said.
She said the difference between a private and public education in Melbourne for a child born this year was more than $435,000: "You would really want your kid to come out with a PhD and a Nobel Peace Prize".
Ms Caro, a lecturer, author, social commentator and advertising copywriter, said her children, now in their 20s, attended state schools, while many of their peers went to high-fee independent schools. "You honestly couldn't pick the difference between them," Ms Caro said. "That's the problem – what are you buying exactly? It's very expensive and your kid will probably turn out the way they are going to turn out."
She said instead of making private schools more affordable, increased government subsidies to private schools had only resulted in increased fees.
The Australian Scholarships Group, a not-for-profit friendly society aimed at helping families to plan for the future costs of their children's education, stresses the figures are provided as a guide only and represent the upper ranges of what parents can expect to pay.
Country life is less expensive: parents who send their children solely to independent schools in regional Victoria are looking at $314,372, Catholic schools $147,053 and state schools $50,923.
According to the Real Estate Institute of Victoria, the median house price was $530,000 in Melbourne and $307,000 in regional Victoria in the September quarter of last year.
The Australian Scholarships Group estimates that a student attending a state secondary school in Melbourne this year will be charged up to $1149 in fees, $1312 for extracurricular activities, $415 for clothing, $385 for travel, $749 for computers and $486 for necessities.
Rhonda Coyne is furious with how much she will spend to send son Jamie to Mill Park Secondary College – the closest state school to their home.
Ms Coyne estimates it will cost more than $4000 this year including his uniform, compulsory school bag, textbooks, essentials, library fees, laptop, excursions and a camp.
"It's disgusting – it's $400 for three days. It's in Kinglake, not even an hour's drive away."
The unemployed single mother said Jamie's schooling costs exceeded those of her two older daughters, now aged 15 and 22.
"It wasn't as expensive. I was actually shocked."
The federal government's new Schoolkids Bonus also came under fire from Ms Coyne.
The annual $820 bonus for each child in secondary school is paid in January and July in two equal instalments.
However the instalment arrangement was of little use. "It didn't even cover the textbooks," she said of the $600 spent this week.
The estimated cost of sending a child to a Melbourne Catholic secondary school this year is $11,981 including $8430 on fees, $1309 in extracurricular activities, $492 in clothing and $726 for computers.
The cost of a Catholic education is not surprising to Margaret Maslin, whose son Jack will be in year 12 at Christian Brothers' College in St Kilda this year.
He has been at the school for six years however she said over that period the fees have doubled due to federal government funding cuts.
They are also not starting from scratch with Jack already in uniform and using a free computer obtained under the Rudd government scheme.
A partial academic scholarship has also provided some breathing space for Ms Maslin, paying $4000 in school fees instead of $7000.
"It has helped me enormously being a single parent. We've really appreciated it."
But other costs are still there such as $600 for textbooks, $100 for stationery, $120 for new shoes and $400 for the train to and from their Yarraville home.