‘Gilmore Girls’: How Much Did It Cost for Rory to Attend Chilton?

In the first three seasons of Gilmore Girls, Rory Gilmore attends Chilton Preparatory School, a prestigious school in Hartford, Connecticut. Because of the expensive tuition, Rory’s grandparents, Emily and Richard Gilmore, paid for her attendance. So how much did it cost for Rory to attend Chilton in Gilmore Girls?

Gilmore Girls
Alexis Bledel and Lauren Graham | Mitchell Haddad/CBS Photo Archive via Getty Images

Rory gets into Chilton her sophomore year of high school

In the first episode of Gilmore Girls, Rory is accepted at Chilton during her sophomore year of high school. She is expected to start as soon as possible, but her mother Lorelai realizes she will not be able to afford the entrance fees and tuition.

This kicks off a main story line in the show, and Lorelai is forced to reconnect with her parents, Richard and Emily. She asks for them to help pay for Chilton, and they agree. However, they will only pay if Lorelai and Rory have dinner with them every Friday night.

Rory attends Chilton through her senior year and is named Valedictorian. She goes on to attend Yale University, and the reconnected family’s weekly Friday night dinners are kept throughout the show.

RELATED: ‘Gilmore Girls’: Would Rory Have Really Gotten Into Three Ivy League Schools?

Lorelai gives a hint of how much it costs in the first episode of ‘Gilmore Girls’

In the first episode, Lorelai calls the school to see if there is any way she could pay part of the enrollment fee upfront and part of it at a later time.

“I got the invoice for your enrollment fee. Wow, that is a lot of zeroes behind that five,” she says on the phone.

Based on this, fans on Reddit were able to speculate how much the enrollment fee cost for Chilton.

“In the first episode, Lorelai says ‘that’s a lot of zeros after that five!’ which led me to believe it was $5000. That would have been typical tuition for a private school in the early 2000s. I can’t imagine it was $50000 and Lorelai was caught off guard that much…,” one Reddit user wrote.

“Lorelai said it was the enrolment fee so I’m guessing it was 5000 just to get her in, cover the cost of the basic package (books and other trivial fees),” another Reddit user speculated.

Chilton in ‘Gilmore Girls’ is based on a real private school

While Chilton Preparatory School is fictional, it is loosely based on a real private school in Connecticut called Choate Rosemary Hall. According to Sapling, tuition for day students at Choate Rosemary Hall is $37,840. While realistically Chilton would have cost anywhere between $25,000 and $75,000 a year, it seems that in the fictional Gilmore Girls world the school cost less.

In Season 3 of Gilmore Girls, Richard gives Lorelai $75,000 from an investment he made when she was born. She then uses the money to pay Emily and Richard back for Rory’s three years at Chilton. However, Lorelai did not need to use all of the $75,000 to pay her parents back.

This means that Chilton cost less than $25,000 a year. Taking it a step further, Rory asks her grandparents to pay for Yale so that Lorelai does not have to use the remainder of the $75,000 to pay for Rory’s first year of college. She wants Lorelai to use the money to pursue her dream of opening her own inn.

In 2003, tuition at Yale cost $28,400 and housing cost $8,600. If a portion of the $75,000 was spent paying back Emily and Richard, and the rest was enough to pay for Rory’s first year at Yale, then Chilton cost roughly $12,666 a year.

Given that Gilmore Girls was not always realistic about finances, some fans speculate that Chilton cost around $15,000 a year.

“In my mind when she says ‘that’s a lot of zeros after that five’, I always imaged it was $15,000 a year. Then she paid Emily $45k and had $30k remaining to go forward on the inn. Remember, in the 3rd season finale, at first she thinks she’ll need to pay for Rory’s first year of Yale – so having about $30k would just barely fit, with some extra from her savings,” a Reddit user wrote.