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Project Cost Calculator

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This calculator will help you determine the cost of your project, how much of your existing financial resources can be dedicated to your project and how much of your annual operating budget you can afford to pay in facilities-related debt service.

In order for our calculator to estimate your needs, gather the following information before proceeding:

  • Number of student seats you are looking to create
  • Anticipated square footage per student (Ranges from 60 sq. ft. per student to 110 sq. ft. per student)
  • Land acquisition costs (estimated, leave blank if you have no way to estimate this, but be aware that you may need to add this cost to your total project cost)
  • Number of students you expect to serve at full enrollment
  • Average recurring public per pupil revenue (also referred to as per pupil state aid)
  • Equity (school’s own cash contribution, sometimes referred to as your capital contribution).

This calculator assumes that you are constructing a brand new building. There are other scenarios that your project may follow, such as the renovation of an existing building. This calculator will give you rough estimates only. You will need to consult a local expert to help build out a true estimate for your specific scenario.

Your Project's Costs

Let’s start with some basics about your plan.

Project costs per square foot vary dramatically and are affected by local construction market, site location within the market, restoration versus new construction, and quality of space being constructed.
60 sq ft/student is considered very space-efficient (heavily used outdoor space, more students per room, minimal/no common spaces).

80 is considered average efficiency.

100-110 is considered spacious (ample common spaces, many specialized classrooms, fewer students per room).

Here's your project's budget:

Land Acquisition Costs

Hard Costs

We multiply construction costs per square foot by the number of seats being created and the desired square feet per student.

With construction costs per square foot of , creating seats at sq feet each will require:

Hard costs: Includes actual spent contingency, but some projects and lenders require more. Rule of thumb is 5-10% hard cost contingency.

Soft Costs

A typical budget for soft costs (which includes financing, design, legal, etc.) is considered an additional 12% of the hard costs.

Soft costs: Includes an allowance for contingency, but some projects and lenders require more. Rule of thumb is 5% soft cost contingency.

Total Project Budget

Your plan’s combined hard and soft costs result in your total project budget.

Your plan’s combined hard and soft costs result in a total project budget of:

This budget is a rough estimate. Construction costs may be higher in urban areas, and lower in rural areas. Environmentally friendly buildings may see higher construction costs as well. See a sample budget.

Next, we'll learn about your school's revenue.

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Your revenue and affordable annual debt service

Let’s get some details about your school’s revenue.

As a growing school, you may pay up to 20% of your total revenue in debt service, but this is considered to be the high end of the range and is cautioned against. Every dollar you pay in debt service, takes away from the classroom. Set this to a reasonable amount, the recommendation is 12-15%.

Here’s your revenue and affordable annual debt service:

Your total revenue

Student enrollment multiplied by average per-pupil revenue yields your total recurring revenue.

With student enrollment of and an average per-pupil revenue of , your total recurring revenue is:

Your Affordable Annual Debt Service

Affordable annual debt service should be 12-15% of total revenue.

Now let’s take a look at how much you can afford to borrow and financing options.

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How much can you borrow?

How much you can borrow depends on the types of financing available to you.

More is not necessarily better when it comes to debt. The scenarios below are based on assumptions and constraints driven by the specific financing type (ex. loan-to-value on bonds can go above 100%, inflating the debt amount, but enabling you to hold on to your equity). However, each has different transaction costs that have not been taken into account here. There are important considerations and trade-offs with each scenario that are best discussed with professionals. As a reminder, this calculator is meant to serve as a guide.

We’ve multiplied your affordable debt service of by estimated debt service multipliers for various financing options to calculate how much you can borrow, or your "maximum debt burden."

Select an option:

Financing Scenario:
Your Maximum Debt Burden:
{ scenario.details }
If you've already received a term sheet from a bank.

% interest, year amortization = x debt service multiplier
Terms used are a best estimate. It is important to vet terms with your chosen bank, as they vary based on market and location. Local and regional banking relationships are the first call a school should make.

Next, you can enter in your equity contribution and calculate your financing gap.

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Your equity and gap

Last Step! If you have equity to contribute to the project, enter that here. Your available equity will determine the remainder of your project's cost that you’ll need to raise equity or additional financing for.

Equity is the cash on hand.

Here’s your facility project’s financing gap:

Financing Gap

By subtracting your maximum debt burden and equity from the project’s costs, we calculate your remaining costs.

With project costs of covered by of maximum debt burden (principal amount) and of available equity, your financing gap is:

Now let’s talk next steps!

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Next steps

With your estimated financing gap in hand, it's time to start looking at funding options.

Your estimated financing gap number is the difference between the cost of your project and the financial resources that you either currently have at your disposal or expect to be able to borrow. We encourage you to explore different scenarios to understand how changing your enrollment numbers, financing scenarios, or desired square footage can impact project affordability. Knowing your financing gap is a great first step towards planning effectively for your project. Get more information in the Financing section of Understanding Your Needs.

If the Project Cost Calculator gave you a financing gap number that is more than 5% of your total project costs, you'll need to fundraise for your project or revise your plan such that the gap is minimized. The Fundraising Guide will give you some resources that can be used to fill your financing gap, but it is best to be realistic by ensuring that the difference between your fundraising track record and financing gap is not too large.

Now that you have a handle on how much of your own resources you can put aside for your project and how much you need from other funding sources, it's time to start looking at funding options. The Funding Options section lists federal financing programs, state financing programs, and service providers that operate in your school's geography. SchoolBuild's Build it Yourself or Hire a Developer section provides information on working with a development partner taking some of the real estate and financing burden off of you. Once you have explored all options email us at with your feedback.

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