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Scoring Boarding School Scholarships

Boarding school isn't cheap, but the good news is that even in the pre-college years, financial aid is available. And for students who qualify, boarding school scholarships can help offset the cost of private education.

Merit scholarships at boarding school
Some boarding schools offer merit scholarships, but most do not. These highly competitive awards are not related to financial need, and are often based upon demonstrated athletic, artistic, or academic talent. Some merit scholarships are awarded for a single academic year; others are renewable. Some offer a small award; others provide a full ride.

In 2005-2006, 310 member schools of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) offered $25.7 million in merit awards, with the average award being $3,545. But fewer than 5 percent of enrolled students received merit-based financial aid.

Boarding school scholarships from outside organizations
Scholarships for boarding schools are also available through civic and religious groups, philanthropic organizations, and employers in various cities and states. Eligibility may hinge on academic skills, leadership potential, diversity, special achievement, or other criteria.

The majority of outside boarding school scholarships are region-specific and target low-income families. Some scholarships are only available for use at religiously affiliated boarding schools. Other scholarships include lengthy academic preparation programs and standardized testing as part of the application process. Log on to NAIS for a list of private scholarship providers.

Additional boarding school scholarship options include:

Scholarships for gifted students
The Davidson Young Scholars Program provides free services designed to nurture and support profoundly gifted young people. It also offers financial assistance to Young Scholars whose families demonstrate financial need.

The Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship covers four years of high school tuition and books for gifted seventh graders who have demonstrated academic and personal excellence. It also provides support via academic guidance and a peer network.

Scholarships for minority students
A Better Chance
College Preparatory Schools Program identifies, recruits, places, supports, and provides full scholarships for talented, urban students of color in college preparatory schools nationwide.

Navajo Nation scholarships are need-based grants available to Navajo students attending preparatory high schools. Students must meet the required 3.3 GPA.

If you're considering boarding school, do your research to uncover every scholarship available to your family. Who knows? You just might score a free ride to private school.