Can you guess what is the most visited page on our school’s website behind our home page? If you guessed that it had something to do with the price of tuition, you’d be right.
Here at Fork Union Military Academy, we’re asked about the cost of our military school on a daily basis. When you’re considering a private school for your child, you need this important question answered: “How much is this going to cost me?”
A lot of parents that we talk to worry that private school…and especially boarding school…is something only the wealthy can afford. But you might be surprised to learn that a good military school can be much more affordable than you expect.
In this article, we will teach you the factors that go into the bottom line of what you can expect to pay when you send your child to a military school. Our goal is that you have a good understanding of the cost and that you can move closer to making an educated decision that’s right for your family.
Tuition at most college preparatory military boarding schools ranges from about $25,000 to over $50,000 per year. The median tuition costs (including fees and uniforms) for military boarding schools is $43,602.
Military schools are a great value when compared to traditional boarding schools, where the median tuition price is over $67,270.
But tuition is only the sticker price.
The good news is that the real cost paid by most families for military school is often significantly less than the tuition price, depending on your financial circumstances. Let’s take a closer look at the actual costs of attending a military school in the United States, and then examine just how affordable military school can be.
It is important to find out what is included in the school’s tuition price, and what is not included. Some schools may charge additional fees for required items and services. At many military schools, the cost of uniforms and other program fees can potentially add $1,000 to $5,000 or more on top of the price of tuition, room and board.
Let’s take a look at the categories of potential costs you need to be aware of:
Tuition is the basic price you pay to attend the school and receive instruction. At most military schools, the price of tuition includes room and board; this means that housing and meals are included in the tuition price.
Schools may charge different tuition prices for different types of students:
Day Students vs. Boarding Students - Some schools admit local students as day students who live at home and commute to the school each day. Tuition for day students is typically lower than for boarding students because it does not include housing and provides for fewer meals.
7-Day Boarding vs. 5-Day Boarding - Schools may offer a 5-Day Boarding program, meaning the students return home each weekend. Tuition for 5-Day Boarding is usually a bit lower than that for 7-Day Boarding, but you are then responsible for transporting your student home and back each weekend.
Upper School vs. Middle School - Some schools charge different tuition prices for students in Middle School (or junior high school) than they do for students in the Upper School (or high school) grade levels.
Domestic US Students vs. International Students - Schools in the United States typically charge a higher tuition rate (and/or additional administrative fees) for international students. This helps to cover the greater costs of managing visas, passports, more complex travel arrangements, and additional mentoring and acculturation assistance needed by international students. International students may also have additional costs for medical insurance coverage while at school.
A military school usually has specific uniforms that students must wear. These may include different uniform sets for different occasions, such as Class A or dress uniforms for special events or Class B uniforms for normal daily wear. They may have Class C or utility uniforms such as BDUs, as well as athletic uniforms. Required uniform accessories may include hats, belts, rank and other insignia, ribbons and medals, and even sabers or swords.
You can expect to pay between $1,000 and $4,000 for required uniforms your first year, unless the school includes uniforms in their tuition price.
Schools might charge additional fees for special programs, such as academic tutoring, English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, SAT/ACT test preparation courses, or dual enrollment classes that provide both high school and college credit.
Depending on the school’s policies, you may be charged additional fees for textbooks, required school supplies, laundry services, technology fees, and other incidental costs that might not be included in their tuition price.
It is important to factor in the savings you might realize from enrolling your child in a military school. Yes, it’s true, having your child away at military school might actually save you some money each year!
As the father of one of our students told me recently:
“I added up how much military boarding school was going to cost me, but I forgot to figure in how much I was going to save by not having to feed my son every day, buy him new clothes when he wanted them, put gas in his car, pay his monthly cell phone bill, and more. The savings really added up.”
According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture, the average family spends at least $12,980 per year on a child’s expenses such as food and clothing. When you total up the costs of a military school, don’t forget to add up the cost savings as well.
Affordability is a big concern today for many parents. Tuition and fees for a military school can look like an imposing number to many families. Most military schools offer financial aid to help families with these affordability concerns.
Sometimes a school with a lower tuition price can end up costing a family more than a school with a higher tuition price simply because one school offers more financial aid to the family. Financial aid packages can vary greatly from school to school, depending on the institution’s endowment, aid philosophy, and tuition costs.
Most schools offer two types of financial aid:
Merit-based scholarships are aid grants that are based on the student’s academic abilities, athletic abilities, or other special talents, rather than on demonstrated financial need. Most schools want to enroll outstanding students who can help make their school and student body better, and merit-based scholarships are one tool schools use to accomplish this goal.
Need-based financial aid are grants that are based on demonstrated financial need. Schools use need-based financial aid to help enroll students who would otherwise not be able to afford to attend the school. You will usually need to complete a financial aid application that takes into account your family’s income, assets, and financial status. You may need to submit tax returns or other documentation with your financial aid application.
A large percentage of families receive financial aid awards to offset the costs of attending boarding school. In fact, as a national average it’s as many as 36% of families or more according to statistics compiled by the National Association of Independent Schools. And those financial aid awards can be substantial, as the NAIS reports.
On the website BoardingSchoolReview.com you can find a list of military boarding schools with the highest percentage of students on financial aid...and you will see that many military schools on that list have 40% to more than 70% of their students receiving financial aid.
Remember what I said at the beginning of this article? Tuition is just the sticker price. And many families end up paying significantly less than that sticker price to attend military school.
Will your child be able to go to a military boarding school for free? Probably not...unless your child is a top academic performer, incredible athlete, or an outstanding trumpet player who can help the band win awards. Full-ride merit scholarships are not very common, and typically only go to a few very exceptional students.
But I’ll let you in on a little secret...schools really do want to enroll all of the students that they accept for admission.
This means that if your child is accepted for admission, most schools will work closely with you to provide financial aid that helps make enrolling affordable for you...while still allowing the school to afford to pay their electric bill and teachers’ salaries.
Here at Fork Union Military Academy, where our current annual tuition is $39,000, over 70% of our domestic boarding families receive financial aid, and the average family pays just about $24,000 a year once financial aid awards are taken into consideration.
And that is an average amount…some families qualify to pay even less.
I encourage you to click the link below to find a full explanation of our tuition rates. You’ll see what is and is not included in our tuition and how we use effective financial aid practices to help make Fork Union Military Academy an affordable choice for families like yours.
Learn more at https://www.forkunion.com/admissions/tuition-and-fees
Dan Thompson has been with Fork Union Military Academy since 2004, specializing in strategic communications and marketing. He enjoys sharing the success stories of the school and its cadets.
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