There are only a handful of free boarding schools in the United States. Most were founded many years ago by visionary, community-minded individuals who believed that children from the working class and poor families should have the same educational advantages as children from families with money. The impact these schools have had on society is enormous. The benefits to thousands of students and their families are priceless.
As you read about these schools and watch the videos, remember that all these schools believe emphatically that an education does not consist solely of academics. Each school understands that a child needs nurturing and counseling to make the most of the opportunities before him. In addition, these schools expect the child's family to be involved. His education is a partnership of three: home, school, and student. That's what it takes to provide the solid foundation a child needs to succeed in his adult life.
Girard College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Stephen Girard was one of the richest men in America when he founded Girard College in Philadelphia. The school is unique in that all students board at the school from 1st grade through 12th. For free. The school serves approximately 580 students in Grades 1-12. Almost 100% of its graduates matriculate to college.
'The school's benefactor, Stephen Girard (1750-1831), left his generous estate to educate and care for needy children. As long as Girard College has existed, all its students have received full scholarships, benefited from strong academic and extracurricular programs and lived safely on an enclosed, 43-acre campus in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Source: Girard College, Philadelphia Pennsylvania
This video offers a virtual tour of Girard College.
The Kamehameha Schools, Honolulu, Hawaii
The Kamehameha Schools were established in 1887 by Princess Bernice Pauahi, the daughter of the last King of Hawaii, King Kamehameha I. She sought to provide a sound education for the indigenous children of Hawaii by giving 375,000 acres of her family's land to the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Estate, a trust to educate Hawaiians. As a result, Kamehameha's endowment is the largest secondary school endowment in the United States, valued at approximately $13 billion in 2021. The school serves 6,500 students in grades PK-12 on 3 campuses in Hawaii. It also operates 29 preschools that serve 1,500 students.
This video introduces The Kamehameha Schools.
The Milton Hershey School, Hershey, Pennsylvania
Yes, that Hershey. The founder of the chocolate company, which bears his name, also established a school known as The Milton Hershey School in 1909. The school serves approximately 1,800 students in Grades PK-12.
The School is funded by a trust established by Milton S. Hershey and his wife Catherine. Milton Hershey School offers a positive, structured home life year-round and an excellent pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade education. Our vision focuses on building character and providing children with the skills necessary to be successful in all aspects of life." Source: The Milton Hershey School, Hershey, Pennsylvania
This video offers an overview of The Milton Hershey School.
Boarding Schools With Generous Financial Aid
Many boarding schools offer generous financial aid programs for students from families with incomes of a specified amount. Because boarding schools are unique organizations, the amount of financial aid offered varies from school to school. So don't hesitate to ask. Three distinguished American boarding schools provide a free education to qualified U.S.-based families. There are many more. Identify them by searching under the Admissions link. Tuition and Financial Aid usually is related tab.
For families with incomes under $75,000, Exeter is free. We pick up the cost of tuition, books and academic supplies, and we provide a stipend toward the purchase of a computer. We’re committed to making Exeter affordable for families from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds. Source: Philips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire
Since 2008, Groton School has waived tuition, room, and board for students from families with incomes below $80,000. This policy reflects the School’s recognition that the great resources of Groton and the promise afforded by a Groton education should be available to all. Again, do not assume you will not qualify for aid. Source: Groton School, Groton, Massachusetts
Families of admitted U.S.-based students with an annual household income up to $125,000 generally qualify for full tuition support. Our packages meet admitted students’ full demonstrated need. That means there will be no gap between what we’ve determined you can afford and what we will award, and you will not have to pay anything back. Source: St. Paul's School, Concord, New Hampshire
What can you do to help?
As you read this article, chances are you are doing so from the comfort of your home. So why not be proactive in letting others know about these beautiful free schools? All too often, families who could benefit from sending their children to a tuition-free private school must be aware that such options exist.
Please send any or all of these schools a gift. Keep the vision of Stephen Girard, Milton Hershey, and all the other visionary benefactors alive by supporting schools like these. Your generosity can be a positive, life-changing force for a young person.
Schools like the ones described above began because wealthy people had a vision. They understood that they had to do something significant to ensure a well-educated citizenry for the future. As you read the history of each school, you will see how the schools have also changed in so many ways from the institutions their founders envisaged years ago. Those changes and adaptations have made these schools more relevant and effective in the 21st century.
Questions? Contact us on Facebook. @boardingschoolreview