Most Expensive Boarding Schools In The US (Updated 2024)

Have you wondered what are the most expensive boarding schools in the United States? Quite a number of factors can influence the cost of boarding education, that includes academic performance, facilities, and location. Some other important factors such as prestige and quality may also influence the cost of fees. In this article we look at some of the most expensive US boarding schools, as of the 2024/25 academic year.

most expensive boarding schools in the us

Top 10 Most Expensive Boarding Schools in the US

The United States is home to some of the top boarding schools and universities in the world, which is a big part of why it’s still a popular destination today for many international students. If you’re considering sending your children to an overseas boarding school, tuition fees are a major consideration. One could expect that a school with higher tuition and boarding fees would also have state-of-the-art facilities and top-notch programs. Our article features some of the most expensive boarding schools in the US so you could have an idea of what you could expect at these fee ranges.

Most of the schools on our list are located in California which has unsurprisingly driven up the cost of tuition and accommodation fees to some degree. However, what these schools offer are unique learning experiences that develop children holistically. These schools have a great range of outdoor learning activities, ranch-based environments, equestrian programs, and such. Many of these programs are unique to these schools and the high quality of education shows in these schools’ academic performance.

  • Note: Fees are shown as per annum
  • * Asterisks denote an average of students’ self-reported scores on Niche.

10. The Thacher School, CA $74,530

The Thacher School is a preparatory school located on a ranch campus. The foundation upon which the school’s success is built on is its dedication to academic excellence, character-building and a community culture. Thacher has a unique Horse Program where each freshman gets paired with a horse and learns to ride and take care of it for a whole year. While the school has continuously upgraded its facilities over the years, it’s maintained its characteristic ranch appearance.

Mean SAT Score: 1406 (2021)

Mean ACT Score: 31 (2021)

2023-24 Annual Tuition Fees for boarding: $74,530

9. Kent School, CT - $76,400

Kent School is a college preparatory school that takes in students from grades 9-12, 93% of whom are boarders. Students at Kent School will be well-acquainted with their motto: Simplicity of Life, Directness of Purpose, Self-Reliance. This Connecticut school prepares its students for life beyond academics by helping them to develop not just intellectually, but also socially, spiritually, and ethically. 

Mean SAT Score: 1430 (2023)*

Mean ACT Score: 32 (2023)*

Annual Tuition Fees for boarding: $76,400

8. The Masters School, NY - $77,400

The Masters School is the only school on our list that is located in New York. Similar to the Lawrenceville School, also on this list, this school uses the Harkness Learning methodology in which students sit in conference tables and learn by listening to others and sharing their own opinions. This plays a big part in challenging students academically, exposing them to diverse perspectives, and giving them the best environment to thrive in, which are the main goals of the school.

Mean SAT Score: 1370 (2023)*

Mean ACT Score: 32 (2023)*

2024-25 Annual Tuition Fees for boarding: $77,400

7. Midland School, CA - $77,600

The Midland School represents the pinnacle of outdoor experiential learning. Located near the Los Padres National Forest on a massive 2,860-acre ranch, students at Midland learn by doing ranch-related activities and gaining firsthand experience at the farm. This would make for a great experience for students who enjoy the outdoors life on a ranch as there are horses, hiking, and farming among many other activities.

Mean SAT Score: 1370 (2023)*

Mean ACT Score: 29 (2023)*

2024-25 Annual Tuition Fees for boarding: $77,600

6. Stevenson School, CA - $77,900

The Stevenson School has set out to achieve its noble mission of preparing students for success, gaining a passion for lifelong learning, and to shape a joyful life. The Stevenson School in California has two campuses in the state – Carmel, which serves students from pre-kindergarten to grade 8, and Pebble Beach, which takes in students from grades 9-12. The school has about 300 boarding students, housed in six dormitories with faculty members who live among the students to provide care.

Mean SAT Score: 1230 (2023)*

Mean ACT Score: 32 (2023)*

2024-25 Annual Tuition Fees for boarding: $77,900

5. The Lawrenceville School, NJ - $79,500

The Lawrenceville School is the only boarding school in New Jersey on our list. The community-oriented school has a welcoming environment with a good support system for international students, fit to be called a home away from home. Their choice of teaching methodology, Harkness Learning, builds on this sense of community too, as students sit around a conference table and learn through sharing, active listening, forming opinions, and valuing differing perspectives.

Mean SAT Score: 1450 (2023)*

Mean ACT Score: 33 (2023)*

2024-25 Annual Tuition Fees for Boarding: $79,500

4. Cate School, CA - $79,980

The Cate School is our top-ranked Californian boarding school as featured in our article here. This selective preparatory school is located in Carpinteria, CA and accepts students from grades 9-12. This outstanding school was rated the best boarding school in California and placed among the top 15 in the country by Niche. Cate School receives an average of about 10 applications per place every year.

Mean SAT Score: 1430 (2023)

Mean ACT Score: 31 (2023)

2024-25 Annual Tuition Fees for boarding: $79,980

3. The Webb Schools, CA - $80,835

The Webb Schools in California consist of the Webb School of California and the Vivian Webb School. Based on a shared 150-acre campus, the schools are located by the scenic San Gabriel Mountains. The schools welcome 37% international students and have about 62% boarding students. The Webb Schools have quite the track record in college placements, as over 90% of its graduates attend the top 10% of colleges and universities in the US.

Mean SAT Score: 1440 (2023)*

Mean ACT Score: 31 (2023)*

2024-25 Annual Tuition Fees for boarding: $80,835

2. Woodside Priory School, CA - $85,260

The number one school on our list is California’s Woodside Priory School, the most expensive boarding school in the US. Founded in 1957, the Priory is a co-educational day and boarding school that teaches children from grades 6-12. The school has invested heavily in its facilities, including building its own gallery. Priory has a comprehensive arts curriculum offering all types of performance arts classes such as visual arts, orchestral, vocal, and theater classes.

Mean SAT Score: 1410 (2023)*

Mean ACT Score: 32 (2023)*

2023-24 Annual Tuition Fees for boarding: $85,260

1. The Athenian School, CA - $89,750

Internationalism, democracy, environmentalism, adventure, leadership, and service are the six pillars that form the foundation of The Athenian School. Its successful Athenian Wilderness Experience program is highly rated and plays a major role in inculcating some of these pillars in its students. The school aims to shape young minds to become leaders, global citizens, and environmental stewards who are committed to doing the right thing.

Mean SAT Score: 1420 (2023)*

Mean ACT Score: 32 (2023)*

2024-25 Annual Tuition Fees: $89,750 (for international student boarding)

Frequently Asked Questions

The Athenian School tops our list of the most expensive boarding schools in the US.

On average, tuition and boarding fees combined are about $35,000 a year. On the highest end of the range, it could reach $70,000-80,000.

We recommend looking at rankings and average SAT/ACT scores as a gauge of academic performance. Other important factors include athletics, arts programs, and extracurricular activities.

First, gather all the necessary documents (ie. transcripts, test scores, recommendation letter). Then, apply to a school and pay application fees. By March, you should receive an acceptance letter with joining instructions and info about the student visa.

Boarding schools in the States tend to have a good student to teacher ratio, excellent academic results, and have great extracurricular activities. Some boarding schools offer elite athlete programs, unique student experiences, and world-class arts programs. Living abroad also helps widen the student’s worldview and learn to be independent.


In summary, there are many choices for private boarding schools in the USA. Besides high SAT and ACT results, each school also stands out with their unique education motto and teaching method. When browsing through the high schools in New York, it is highly advised that parents check through the schools’ approaches to best match the needs and conditions of each child. Should you need further assistance, please contact us.

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