holding glass jar with money for education


If you’re exploring boarding school affordability and tuition costs, you’ve likely noticed that it’s more than an education decision – it’s also a financial one. Learn about affordable boarding schools in the U.S., what a boarding school costs, financial aid programs and much more in our frequently asked questions below.

Boarding School Affordability

Can I afford to send my child to boarding school? Generally speaking, boarding schools offer need-based financial aid, payment plans, loan options, and sometimes special scholarships or merit awards. Many families aren’t aware of the financial resources available to them to assist with being able to afford a boarding school education.

What are the factors that influence boarding school affordability? According to the Education Data Initiative, the total boarding school cost hinges on a number of factors including: location, 5 day vs. 7 day (if offered), prorated tuition during rolling enrollment periods and the types of financial assistance offered.

Boarding School Tuition and Financial Aid 

What is the cost of tuition at boarding school?  To clarify tuition costs for day vs. boarding school students, many boarding schools separate “room and board” from tuition. Check school websites to understand the cost of living in the dorms and receiving meals through the school’s dining services. Day students obviously do not pay for room and board, but lunch is typically included in their tuition.

Do boarding schools offer financial aid? Most private boarding schools operate as nonprofits with specific budgets allocated to financial assistance awards. Following national standards for private schools, most boarding schools offer a need-based approach to financial aid. Students should apply first based on the school’s admission criteria and then follow-through with the financial aid application steps afterwards.

Average Cost of Boarding School 

How much does boarding school cost? If you’re asking “how much does boarding school cost,” keep in mind that tuition, room and board will cover everything from classes to all aspects of campus life (e.g. sports, clubs, meals, dorms). Additional fees may apply for books, uniforms, excursions, technology like laptops or tablets, and specialized programs. Once you identify schools you are interested in, ask them about their tuition, room and board and other fees so you can compare costs as you move through your decision-making process.

How much do private schools cost in California and other states? Check the Education Data Initiative for the up-to-date average cost of private schools by state. They have breakdowns for boarding schools as well as private day schools.

What is the average cost of private middle schools in the U.S.? The Education Data Initiative site shows the national average for secondary education (middle school and high school) because the costs are generally the same. However, some private boarding schools do offer lower tuition rates for middle school students vs. high school students.

Types of Boarding Schools in the U.S. 

What are the types of boarding schools in the U.S.?  Types include: coeducational, single gender for all-boys or all-girls, denominational or non denominational. You can also sort by religious preferences, schools for the gifted or learning differences and other preferences. You can find boarding schools by lakes, forests, and even by the beach.

What is the difference in cost between boarding and day school? In some cases, to save costs related to meals and dorms, private school students attend day schools. If the boarding school is close by, this can make the boarding school more affordable. Read more in our article about the differences between boarding vs. day.

Benefits to Boarding School 

What is the return on investment for boarding school students? The Association of Boarding Schools has cited that boarding school students report being very well prepared for college academically by comparison to private day schools and public schools.

Later in life, a high percentage of boarding school graduates hold top-level management jobs, compared with lower percentages from private day and public school graduates.

Also, due to the strong academics and other student achievements, boarding school students often gain an extra edge to gain entrance to The Ivy League, top colleges and universities, and the military service academies. They also are well-positioned for college scholarships. In some cases, college scholarships even offset the entire cost of a boarding school education.



How to Find Affordable Boarding Schools

Where can I find affordable boarding schools? Although looking close to home can sometimes be the right fit, remember tuition varies from state-to-state and from school to school. If you are doing a Google search for “most affordable boarding schools near me,” you might come across boarding schools within your hometown, but you will most likely find boarding schools at a distance within your state or regional area.

First, go to review sites like Boarding School Review or Private School Review. These sites allow you to compare up to three college preparatory schools at a glance. There are also other school directories such as: Niche, Great Schools, AMCSUS (military schools), and The Association of Boarding Schools (boardingschool.com).

Next, narrow your list of boarding schools. Here is a sampling of boarding schools offering financial aid: West Coast: Army and Navy Academy, Stevenson School, Athenian School, Ojai Valley School, Thacher, Cate, Dunn School. East: The Hotchkiss School, Choate Rosemary Hall, Phillips Academy-Andover, New York Military Academy, Midwest: Culver, Cranbrook Schools Lake Forest Academy. South: The Hockaday School, St. Stephen’s Episcopal School, and Riverside Academy.

Last, call the admission office(s) to determine if the private school is a good fit and address your questions about boarding school costs. Some preparatory schools also offer prorated tuition to reduce costs for transfer students, so ask if they offer rolling admission.

Are there affordable boarding schools for military families? Military schools and military academies offer a college prep quality education and welcome both civilian and military families. Ask the admission office about military discounts and specialized scholarships from organizations like NewDay USA.

Are there affordable boarding schools for diplomats and international students? Yes, most boarding schools are very helpful to families living overseas and they also often have many international students enrolled. Check with the admission office to explore financial options for diplomats, corporate employees living abroad and international students.

Are there affordable boarding schools for low income families? Ask admissions about financial aid and special diversity programs as you explore boarding school affordability. U.S. boarding schools take accessibility and affordability very seriously.

In summary, boarding schools offer a quality education and can be a life changer for your teen. Private boarding schools offer access to rigorous college prep academics and an environment that fosters independence and unparalleled mentorship, guidance, and support.

As a public service, the admission team at ANA is standing by to address your questions. Need to ask a question? Fill out our quick contact us form.