Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegoai was born in Lepa Village in 1946. "Tuilaepa" is a matai title he assumed as an adult. When he became prime minister, media attention focused on the sacrifices his family made for his education. These made it possible for him to obtain secondary education at the Marist Brothers' St. Joseph's College at Latopa, Samoa. He then received a scholarship to attend St. Paul's College in Auckland, New Zealand. He was awarded bachelor and master of commerce degrees from the University of Auckland, with specialization in accounting and economics. He is married and has several children.