17 Free & Affordable Boarding Schools in the US

Enrolling your kid in boarding school in the United States comes with enormous benefits that go beyond classroom walls. Whether it’s providing rigorous academics in a small class size setting, providing extracurricular activities that are beneficial to students’ growth and their acceptance to quality higher education, or even providing a supportive community. They also foster independence, self-discipline, time management, and many other benefits.

However, the price tag that comes along with most boarding schools is overwhelming especially if you’re in states like California or even New York, especially if you are having financial constraints. 

Fortunately, there is a beacon of hope through these free & affordable boarding schools in the US. Some states like Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Maryland, etc, participate fully in providing these low-cost boarding schools.

Moreover, if you don’t mind sending your kid abroad, the United Kingdom, Canada, and even Australia provide a handful of affordable boarding schools.

Anyway, let’s get into these schools right away.

affordable boarding schools in the US

Free Boarding Schools in the US

Please, don’t assume because these schools are free that they don’t provide top-notch education. The major reason they are free is because the government provides the funds to help waive students’ fees.

1. Milton Hershey School (Pennsylvania)

  • Tuition: Free
  • Grades: pre-K through 12th grade
  • Location: 430 East Governor Road, Hershey, PA 17033

Milton Hershey School believes that a family’s income should not determine a child’s outcome that’s why it provides a cost-free education to qualifying students. Children from 4 years through 12th grade are welcome to live at school in a family-like atmosphere in a student home or Transitional Living apartment (12th grade).

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2. The SEED School of Washington, D.C.

  • Tuition: Free
  • Grades: 9 through 12
  • Location: 4300 C Street, SE, Washington, DC 20019

The SEED School of Washington, D.C. is the nation’s first, public, college-preparatory, tuition-free boarding school! Besides the fact that they provide free education, they still back it up with quality academics. In fact, their quality of education makes 91% of their graduates to be admitted to college.

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3. The SEED School of Maryland

  • Tuition: Free
  • Grades: 6 to 12
  • Location: 200 Font Hill Ave, Baltimore, MD 21223

This is among the free boarding schools in the United States that don’t consider students’ prior academic performance while deciding their eligibility. In fact, transportation is provided to students who don’t live near the school. SEED MD has two separate dorms for boys and girls.

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4. The SEED School of Miami (Florida)

  • Tuition: Free
  • Grades: 6-12
  • Location: 1901 NW 127th St.  |  Miami, FL 33167

This is among the most affordable boarding schools in the US that has a mission to provide an outstanding educational program that empowers students to be successful, both academically and socially, in college and beyond. SEED Miami students board Sunday evenings through Friday afternoons and spend 80 hours per week with SEED Miami faculty.

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5. The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics

  • Tuition: Free
  • Grades: 11-12
  • Location: 1219 Broad St, Durham, NC 27705

Not only does the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics not charge you for tuition meals, room/board, or textbooks, but it doesn’t also charge you for an application fee. North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics is a public high school where talented students find their niche in STEM and realize their potential.

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6. The Alabama School of Mathematics and Science

  • Tuition: Free
  • Grades:  10th-12th graders
  • Location: 1255 Dauphin St, Mobile, AL 36604

ASMS does not charge for tuition, books, room, or board. The only fees you get to pay include an annual student activity fee, which covers class trips and other day-to-day activities, along with an enrollment fee (for new students only), a PSAT fee, and a graduation fee (source: Wikipedia).

ASMS is a public residential high school that serves sophomores, juniors, and seniors who are looking for an accelerated learning environment focused on math, science, computer science, and the humanities.

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7. The Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts

  • Tuition: Free

We would’ve added LSMSA to the affordable boarding schools in the US section, but their fees are too low to add there. Their Room & Board fee is just $1,000 per year and when you add other expenses, the total is $1,200 annually. In reality, they stated that “Inability to pay will not prevent qualified students from attending.” They still went ahead to provide financial assistance for eligible students.

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8. The Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

  • Tuition: Free
  • Grades: 10-12
  • Location: 1500 Sullivan Road, Aurora, IL 60506-1000

IMSA does not charge tuition, room, and board; it is provided by the generous support of the Illinois General Assembly. 

IMSA is among the free boarding schools in the US that provides excellent education, no wonder Niche.com ranked them the #1 Best College Prep Public High School in Illinois among 674 others. Niche also ranked them as the 3rd Best College Prep Public High School in America among 18,013 in 2024.

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9. The Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities

  • Tuition: Free
  • Grades: 10-12
  • Location: 301 N Talley Ave, Muncie, IN 47306, USA

Even though The Indiana Academy doesn’t charge Indiana students tuition fees, families of residential students will need to pay a room and board fee of $1,350 per semester (including a dining plan of 3 meals daily). Financial assistance is available for those eligible for free and reduced lunch, significantly reducing the room and board fee to as low as $344 per semester.

The Indiana Academy is a two-year public residential high school for gifted and talented juniors and seniors from across Indiana.

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10. The Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf

  • Tuition: Free
  • Grades: Birth through 12th grade
  • Location: 300 East Swissvale Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15218

WPSD is a non-profit, tuition-free school for deaf and hard-of-hearing students from birth through 12th grade.

WPSD offers lots of education and learning services such as an all-inclusive communication/language environment, a complete after-school program including a variety of clubs, a fully equipped fitness center, and a comprehensive athletic program. WPSD is the only Pennsylvania school fully accredited by The Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf.

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11. The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science

  • Tuition: Free
  • Grades: 11th and 12th
  • Location: 1100 College Street, MUW-1627, Columbus, MS 39701

As a public high school, you don’t get to pay for application fees, and admitted students do not pay tuition or book fees. However, families must pay $500 per semester for housing and meals and approximately $200 per year for miscellaneous fees. Financial assistance is available for eligible families. 

MSMS is among the free boarding schools in the United States that produce outstanding graduates who go ahead to receive millions of dollars in scholarships. Actually, the 104 graduates of the Class of 2023 accepted $8.2 million of the more than $25 million offered. 

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12. Oakland Military Institute College Preparatory Academy (California)

  • Tuition: Free
  • Grades: 6-12
  • Location: 3877 Lusk Street, Oakland, CA 94608

OMI is another tuition-free charter school that provides a comprehensive college preparatory program. Because it’s a military school, it combines strong academics with military leadership training.

Even though there are no boarding and tuition fees, students will still need to pay for textbooks & supplies, transportation, uniforms, activities, and clubs.

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13. Girard College Philadelphia

  • Tuition: Free
  • Grades: 1 through 12
  • Location: 2101 S College Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19121

Girard College is one of the affordable boarding schools in the US for academically capable students who come from families headed by a single parent or guardian with limited financial resources. Every child admitted to the school receives a fully-funded scholarship which covers most of the costs of attending, including tuition, room and board, all meals and snacks, books and supplies, and school uniforms.

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Now we have listed some of the free boarding schools in the USA, let’s now focus on affordable ones

Affordable Boarding Schools in the US

Just like free boarding schools, these low-cost schools didn’t sacrifice excellence for affordability.

14. Maine School of Science and Mathematics (MSSM)

  • Tuition: Free
  • Grades: 9-12
  • Location: 95 High Street, Limestone Maine 04750

As a public boarding school, the tuition is covered by the state for Maine residents, but parents/guardians need to cover for boarding. To also make it more affordable, MSSM provides financial assistance to qualified Maine residents only with financial needs, ensuring that your room and board expenses are addressed.

MSSM is a public residential high school focused on STEM for scholars who enjoy stretching their brains in new and challenging directions.

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15. The Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science

  • Tuition: Free
  • Grades: 11th & 12th
  • Location: 600 Park Street Hays, Kansas 67601 United States

KAMS is a two-year residential program for high school juniors and seniors. KAMS is among the affordable boarding schools in the US that loan a laptop computer and textbooks to each Kansas public school student to use during the academic year.

To help in-state Kansas pay for other fees including boarding, KAMS provides financial aid. However, if you’re an out-of-state student or international student, you’ll need to pay the full cost of attendance.

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16. Chinquapin Preparatory School

  • Cost to Attend: approximately $23,000 annually
  • Grades: 6-12
  • Location: 2615 E. Wallisville Rd. Highlands, TX 77562

Even though it costs approximately $23,000 annually to attend Chinquapin Prep, most students’ tuition is paid for by their contributors, but a small amount is charged per student for tuition, room, board, and transportation. To help reduce costs further, students can work extra hours on campus in addition to their daily chores.

However, joining Chinquapin is not easy, admitted students have been proven to be able to fit in their community and add to the ‘love of learning’ culture.

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17. The Kamehameha Schools, Honolulu

  • Grades: K-12
Kindergarten – 6th Grade$5,248
7th-12th GradeDay$6,456
7th-12th GradeBoarder$11,458

This is one of the cheapest boarding schools in the United States that goes further to provide financial aid to reduce their students’ fees. 

Kamehameha Schools is committed to providing exceptional educational opportunities, and they see it as a never-ending journey.

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Key Takeaway

You can see there are a handful of both free and affordable boarding schools in the US, which we believe has provided a beacon of hope to your family. Whether it’s specialized institutions that focus on STEM or military schools that instill discipline and leadership training alongside quality education. There is even the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf which provides free education and boarding and is best for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

Even though some schools don’t provide totally free education, with the help of their financial assistance it can help to subsidize the cost.

Overall, because education is an investment in our kids, you shouldn’t only focus on finances, you should also ensure that the school’s environment, values, and academic strengths align with your needs and aspirations.

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