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ARTICLE: About Financial Aid

Updated: Nov 4, 2023

Many people take one look at the price tag of an independent college prep school and their jaws hit the floor. I was one of those people. The average tuition of private school nationwide is $12,594 , regardless of education level, but the average cost of private boarding school is $67,270 (Education Data Initiative).

It's true that because of the high tuitions, there is a disproportionate amount of affluence concentrated in these types of institutions- most of the students are those from families privileged enough to pay the hefty costs for their education. But that doesn't mean that these schools are completely inaccessible to people from different economic backgrounds- there is student financial aid for private school students, merit scholarships, and organizations dedicated to covering partial or all costs of schooling to ensure that dedicated students can take advantage of the educational opportunities there even if it may be economically unfeasible for their family or home situation.

In this article, we'll look at a few options that you may have.

1. Institutional Grants


There are a few schools that review applications without regard to one's financial situation- in other words, aid is only allotted after admission decisions have been made. They include Concord Academy, Andover, Exeter, Putney, Deerfield, Groton, and Roxbury Latin, among others. They can do this because in their massive operating budgets, alongside allotments for athletics, diversity initiatives, and faculty vacancies are millions of dollars set aside just to grant student financial aid, because these schools are dedicated to enrolling brilliant students from a wide variety of socioeconomic backgrounds.


Several private schools have financial aid programs that cover everything from room and board to textbooks and electronic devices for families with income below a certain threshold like, say, around $80,000 in yearly income-like St. Paul’s, Deerfield, and Groton. There are also certain funds set aside to help students pay for non-academic goods and services that are nevertheless important to feeling included in the community (for example, "Beyond the Classroom" at Choate.)

"Families whose gross household income is $75,000 or less attend Exeter for free, receiving $64,789 in financial aid." -Phillips Exeter Academy


However, not meeting the threshold does not preclude one from getting any help at all; the amount of aid is adjusted for one's circumstances, and the amount paid will still be less than the full tuition. And just like a full grant, these are not loans- you never have to pay back any of the money.

Choate Rosemary Hall

2. Scholarships


Scholarships, like grants, are monies given unconditionally (not loans.) However, unlike institutional grants, certain requirements or conditions must be met in order to qualify for them, and there are often times a limited number of scholarships that can be handed out. Some are need-based, and some are for a fixed amount of money.

There are merit-based scholarships, athletic scholarships, and other skill-based ones. Some scholarships can be granted based on one's background (immigration status, veteran, hometown/state of origin, etc.)

It's important to keep track of the application process if applying for scholarships, especially when they are connected to the school- for some, like Hotchkiss' featured scholarships, no additional work is required and candidates are immediately entered into consideration upon submitting an application for financial aid. For others, there may be a separate process requiring extra materials or information.


There are also a number of programs, contests, and nonprofit organizations separate from these schools that grant money to high-performing students, each with their own application process. While they usually do not have the capability to grant as much money as the institutions themselves can, they are a great supplement to what aid you already received and can help to 'fill the gap.'

Contests in particular are a great way to further develop your skills, furnish your academic/extracurricular resumé, and be rewarded with money!

Here are a few examples:

Hopefully this eases some of the (very understandable) financial concerns about attending a college prep school. Though it's true that educational disparity will continue to exist, these groups are investing in helping students access a high-quality education and succeed regardless of their financial situation.

A lot of students have seen the trajectory of their futures change and been able to benefit as a result of these donations- and you can, too.


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