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How Much Does Boarding School Cost?

Education is an investment, and boarding school is no exception. But just how big an investment are we talking?

Boarding school tuition and fees
The average annual boarding school tuition is $38,850. Of course, there are some schools with tuition as low as $10,000 and others as high as $60,000. Most boarding school tuition costs include room and board, but some don't - check with the schools you're considering to be sure your food and shelter are covered. And don't forget to factor books, travel, personal expenses, and miscellaneous fees into your boarding school finances, too.

Boarding school financial aid
Before panic sets in, remember that the "sticker price" is often not the final price of boarding school. The average boarding school financial aid grant is $17,000, and 30 percent of students are on financial aid. Some boarding schools offer a higher percentage of financial aid grants than others, which greatly increases affordability. Boarding school grants are usually need-based, geared toward families making less than $120,000 per year. Non-affiliated scholarships and loans are available to boarding school students as well.

State-supported boarding schools
At state-supported boarding schools, such as The Advanced Academy of Georgia (Carrollton, GA), in-state students benefit from reduced tuition. Georgia residents pay $5,500, and out-of-state students pay $10,050, which is still much lower than the average cost of boarding school. Financial aid, including merit scholarships, is also available.

Free boarding schools?
To top it off, some boarding schools even offer free tuition. At Girard College (Philadelphia, PA), for example, all students receive full scholarships. But you must meet the entrance requirements -- the school is for academically capable students, grades 1 through 12, from families with limited financial resources, each headed by a single parent or guardian.

A few other boarding schools have pledged to cover the entire cost of attendance for low-income families. St. Paul's School (Concord, NH) covers the full cost of tuition for any student whose family makes less than $80,000 per year; Phillips Exeter Academy (Exeter, NH) and Groton School (Groton, MA) cover the costs for families making less than $75,000 per year.

Therapeutic boarding schools
If you're considering therapeutic boarding schools, however, you can expect to pay a lot more than you would at a traditional boarding school. Because of the special services provided by therapeutic boarding schools, tuition ranges from around $3,500 to $7,500 per month ($42,000 to $90,000 per year). (Remember, though, that most students spend two years or less at therapeutic boarding school, as opposed to four years at traditional boarding school.)

Therapeutic boarding school fees typically include special education, residential treatment, and most clinical services. Some programs are licensed to offer residential treatment for psychiatric diagnoses or substance abuse, in which case personal health insurance may cover some of the cost. And for learning disabled students, the state board of education may pitch in with financial assistance.

Are you ready to make the boarding school investment?