Therapeutic Boarding Schools don’t generally post their tuition online because they want to discourage you from falling into the temptation of price shopping. The reality is that the cheapest program is not necessarily going to do the most good for your struggling teen. Paying for a good therapeutic program is certainly a sacrifice, but you need to ask yourself, “If my son or daughter were to die tomorrow, what will I wish I had done?” Unfortunately, over the years we have heard several heartbreaking stories where parents did not act in time to help their teen.
What Level of Care Does Your Struggling Teen Need?
The cost of a therapeutic or residential boarding school is usually dependent on the level of care needed. Residential boarding schools tend to cost less than therapeutic boarding schools because they do not offer therapeutic services from trained professionals, while therapeutic boarding schools tend to cost more (though not always) due to their employment of master’s degree level therapists, higher levels of safety precautions, and more staff equipped and trained to handle emergency situations.
- Residential Boarding Schools (9-18 months): $1,500 – $3,500 per month
- Therapeutic Boarding Schools (9-18 months): $2,500 – $10,000 per month (~$4,500 average)
- Short Term Intensive Therapeutic Programs (1-3 months): $10,000 – $12,000 per month
If your teen is struggling with depression, ADD, anger, minor drug use, or is struggling at school, a residential boarding school may be a good fit for your teen. A structured and positive environment built to prevent teens from heading down the wrong path is usually enough to get them back on track.
However, some teens need full supervision or lock-down facilities. If your teen is a runaway risk, has threatened or hinted at suicide, is at risk of harming themselves, has participated in major drug or alcohol abuse to the point of near damage to body or mind, or has been diagnosed with ODD, RAD, OCD, PTSD, an anxiety disorder, anorexia or bulimia, bipolar disorder, or any major behavioral disorder, a therapeutic boarding school may be absolutely necessary for your teen.
An Example of the Actual Cost
One of our famous comparisons is the cost of hiring a sitter for 24 hours a day for a month. Let’s use the current Federal minimum wage — $7.25 (an amount significantly lower than most states). For 24 hour supervision the cost would be $174, for 30 days the cost would be $5,220, and that total does not even include food or transportation. Boarding schools cost as much as they do because they are taking care of your teen 24 hours a day, every day. We often have to tell parents the hard fact that one can’t even feed a teenage boy at $500 per month.
Imagine your teen and your family 10-20 years from now
The high short-term expense of therapeutic boarding schools and residential treatment centers can give parents reason to pause in their decision about whether or not they need to place their children. But, when you look at your teenager’s life in longer terms, the cost is relatively small. Imagine your teen 10-20 years from now. On the path they are currently walking, will they be loving, caring parents who have a good relationship with their family and can successfully navigate life’s challenges? Or will they be bitter, self-doubting, angry, anxiety-ridden, possibly addicted to substances, and failing miserably at handling this world? Your decision today could possibly make a difference between those two outcomes. While the short term cost may be relatively large in your eyes, we ask you to prayerfully consider the real long term cost of not placing your teenager in a therapeutic boarding school.
How Can I Pay for Residential or Therapeutic Boarding School?
There are several options available for funding therapeutic boarding school services:
- Asking grandparents, family, or friends to help
- Asking your church, synagogue or religious community for help with funding
- Behavioral health loans through funding sources like Prosper Healthcare Lending
- Your health insurance may help with paying for some aspects of behavioral health treatment at a therapeutic boarding school
- Is your child adopted? Some states provide adoption assistance funding
- Was your child the victim of a crime? Crime Victims Compensation boards in every state have funding available for treatment, regardless of whether the crime was tried or convicted