Affording Boarding School

Attending a boarding school is more affordable than you think.

Every year, families just like yours are able to afford Boarding school through generous financial aid programs. Families from a variety of income brackets and socioeconomic backgrounds apply for and receive need-based financial assistance from many schools in the Western Boarding School Association.

Financial Aid is not a loan, but rather a grant made possible through the generous gifts and donations of others that reduces the cost of tuition for qualifying families.

If financial aid is part of your boarding school admission process, you will be completing a separate financial aid application alongside your admission application. Your financial aid application will require its own work and documentation that can be equal to, or greater than, the admission application.

Each school has different application processes and can accept a number of applications, so check with each school to understand which application(s) they accept. Applications are typically weighted equally, so if you complete one of the required applications, you should be fine. If you’re unsure, ask the admissions office.


If you have financial questions, start by reaching out to the financial aid office at the boarding school you are interested in. They can walk you through the various options available to you.

In general, these are the most common types of financial aid that boarding schools offer:

Need-based Financial Aid

Need-based financial aid is offered as a grant that does not need to be repaid. Because the money comes directly from the school’s budget, families are asked to demonstrate and document their need for aid. Many schools use the Parents’ Financial Statement from the School and Student Service for Financial Aid (SSS), which is administered by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).

For more information, reach out to the financial aid office at the school where you are applying. They can provide detailed guidance on your financial aid options, and a list of the application deadlines.

Merit Scholarships

Some schools offer scholarships to students who are especially accomplished in academics, athletics or the arts. These scholarships tend to be highly sought after, and do not need to be repaid.

Tuition Loan and Financing Programs

Some schools, banks, and other lending agencies offer tuition loans. They are credit-based loans, which means they require credit checks, and must be repaid with interest over a predetermined period of time. Interest rates for tuition loans are typically better than the rates for most consumer loans. For more details, contact the financial aid office at the school where you are applying.

Tuition Payment Programs

Many lending agencies offer tuition payment programs to help families manage their boarding school costs. They are not considered loans, rather a way for you to break your tuition bills into manageable payments over the course of the academic year. You will not be charged interest on the installments, but there could be enrollment fees. For more details, contact the financial aid office at the school where you are applying.