How to Pay for Therapeutic Boarding School

Does your child need to be placed in a therapeutic boarding school, but you have no idea how you will pay for it? We understand how frustrating this can be as a parent of an at-risk child, and we are here to help as you make this challenging decision. Below are some options available to you to help pay for boarding school.

How Much Does Therapeutic Boarding School Cost?

When your child completes therapeutic boarding school, it can run from $25,000-$150,000. It can be a considerable amount of money, and most may think it impossible. While it will take some sacrifice, remember that this is an investment into our children’s well-being and maybe what’s necessary to maintain your family and sanity. Whatever options you choose, start your search as soon as possible so that you can get your child on their path to healing. Factors that influence treatment costs:

  • The recommended length of stay
  • Your child’s clinical diagnosis
  • Whether the situation requires specialized services
  • Your youth’s mental health insurance coverage

Ways To Pay for Therapeutic Boarding School

When deciding whether your child will enter treatment, consider that you will be making a lifetime investment in their future wellness. Untreated mental health issues do not go away by themselves. Your commitment to your child’s recovery will be invaluable, and the results will ultimately be life-changing for them and you.

1. Insurance May Cover Some of the Costs

Depending on the school, insurance often covers some behavioral and mental treatment costs. Some insurance companies may pay 100% of the treatment costs; however, you may be asked to pay the total cost upfront and seek reimbursement, which can strain families. Most often, insurance will only pay for part of the tuition, fees, school supplies, travel, and other costs. If your insurance currently covers licensed mental and behavioral health therapy and medication, they may continue to be covered by insurance when your child is in residential treatment. However, some therapeutic boarding schools do not accept insurance, so everything may be out-of-pocket. The other thing to consider is that some may be in-network, and some may be out-of-network. In-network schools may be a better fit for your child. In many cases, parents may need to use out-of-network services to get the appropriate care.

2. Ask the School About a Payment Plan

Even after insurance pays for some of the treatment costs, the other expenses that come with boarding school can be overwhelming to most families. Some schools offer payment plans which is a good option if you cannot pay the costs up-front. Additional expenses for boarding school can include travel fees, uniforms, sports and recreation fees, textbooks, or technology fees. Payment Plans allow the cost to be paid over several months, which can take the burden off of having to come up with a large sum of money all at once. Talk to the school’s Admissions or Financial Aid Department to see the available payment plan options.

3. Apply for a Loan

Companies such as Lending Tree can make it easier for you to find options for personal medical loans or personal loans to pay for educational expenses for therapeutic boarding school. Of course, checking with your bank is also always a good option. Loans with low-interest rates are available, but the actual rate you receive depends on your credit score and what’s available through your preferred lender. Well-qualified borrowers may be able to find rates significantly lower than the average. Lightstream and Prime Lending are two lending companies that provide medical financing at low-interest rates for folks with high credit scores.

Financial Aid Loans

Check with the schools to see if they offer any financial aid. Some schools do offer some support, but it is limited. However, no stone can be left unturned when trying to get your child the help they need.

4. Use a College 529 Plan

If you have set up a College 529 plan to pay for your child’s college education, consider using it for therapeutic boarding school. This is a way to help get your child back on track with their education so that they can go to college someday. It may be well worthwhile to use that money now.

5. Apply for a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

Another alternative to financing a TBS is a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). HELOCs are secured lines of credit, using your home equity (your house) as collateral. This can be a beneficial and convenient way to access money that is needed and can also be a tax deduction.

6. Use Credit Cards

Although credit cards have high-interest rates, using them to pay the up-front cost of a therapeutic school may be a good option until you can obtain the money you need. HELOCs generally have much lower interest rates, and so should be considered first. Only use a credit card as a very last resort.

7. Use Adoption Resources

Was your child adopted? If your child was adopted, you might be able to get some financial assistance through the Adoptive Families Coalition. The Adoptive Families Coalition helps families with post-adoption challenges. For example, they offer a plan to help and assist in paying for the high cost of boarding schools and residential treatment centers (RTC and RTF). Financial resources may also be available to you if you adopted your child through foster care. If you receive an adoption subsidy, it can be adjusted to cover these additional costs due to your child’s disability, mental health issues, or early trauma. Check with your social worker or the state you adopted for more information.

8. Include Treatment in Individualized Education Program (IEP)

If your child has an IEP and the case can be made that the school setting is insufficient to meet your child’s needs, states are required by law to provide funding. Check out for more information about IEP’s. While it is rare for a school district to cover the cost of boarding school, it has happened. Therefore, the school district might pay for the educational portion of the costs, if not the full amount. Ask the school you are interested in if they work with IEP’s and about their reimbursement policy.

9. More Creative Ways to Pay for Therapeutic Boarding School

Here are a few other creative methods parents have used to fund boarding school. Create a Go-Fund-Me Page. Friends, families, and community members may be willing to contribute. Ask friends and family members. Are there grandparents, aunts, uncles, or other family members willing to offer assistance? Request funds from your church or place of worship. Some churches offer grants, scholarships, and financial help to members. Ask your employer for a donation or a loan. Some employers are willing to help. It is suitable for business, and they can use it as a tax write-off.

10. Consider hiring an educational advocate to guide you through the process.

Hiring an attorney, educational consultant, or case manager is useful for some families. Click here for more details on hiring an educational advocate or consultant to get your child into boarding school or residential treatment. While hiring an expert is an additional expense, it may save money in the long run if the consultant can help you find the school that is the right fit for your child, plus provide financial resource information. An advocate will walk you through the whole process, including helping to create a treatment plan, helping to secure reimbursement from your insurance company, aiding in the intake process, allowing you to get a comprehensive psychological evaluation, and coordinating travel. Consultants can be expensive and charge anywhere from $100-$350 an hour, but a good case manager’s expertise will end up paying for itself when you consider all the time, headache, and money they may be able to save you. We understand the stress, heartache, and desperation you feel trying to get appropriate help for your child and to give them the best chance for a fulfilling, prosperous future. The road can feel lonely, but remember that you aren’t alone. Have you tried getting your child into a therapeutic boarding school? Have you been able to get financial help?  If you have exhausted all options and realize that therapeutic boarding school is not feasible for your child, contact us.