News and Events

Phillips Exeter Academy Is Free to Those With Need

Exeter, NH (November 7, 2007) — A Phillips Exeter Academy education will now be free to any admitted student whose family income is $75,000 or less, the trustees of the independent secondary school announced today.

At their October meeting, the Academy’s trustees unanimously voted to offer an Exeter education free to any accepted student whose family income is $75,000 or less. This change will take effect for the next school year (2008–2009) for both current and newly admitted students. With this change, students from nearly two-thirds of the families in the United States could enjoy a free Exeter education.

This financial aid package will include not only free tuition and room and board, but also a range of other expenses. Books, academic supplies, linen, health and technology fees, and a computer will be covered.

“The educational gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ continues to widen in this country and in the world,” says Exeter’s Principal Tyler C. Tingley. “We want to be clear that money does not stand in the way of an Exeter education. Students who qualify academically will find Exeter affordable. Our efforts in this important area will continue.”

Charles T. Harris III is a 1969 graduate of the Academy. He attended the school on a full scholarship for four years and is currently president of the Academy’s trustees. In a letter announcing the new financial aid initiative to families of students currently applying to Exeter, Harris wrote, “Financial wealth should not determine access to the best education, nor should it shape a learning community. The Academy’s responsibility is to ensure that this unique and extraordinary education serves others in the best way possible—by raising the expectations and nurturing the potential of our students. At Exeter, when we talk about education, we talk about non sibi—not for oneself. The point of an Exeter education is usefulness to the world.”

“This is a very significant initiative,” said William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid at Harvard College. “Colleges and universities depend on a pipeline that promotes opportunity and academic preparation for all students. By offering such generous financial aid, Exeter is providing important leadership through a model that combines excellence and access in a new and exciting way.” 

This program is just one piece of the school’s unique and generous financial aid program, which this year supports 46 percent of the school’s students, who have received grants totaling more than $13 million.

Exeter has a very generous financial aid program for families with incomes up to $200,000 and beyond. For boarding students from families with incomes between $75,000 and $200,000, the average grant is over $27,000. This means that 95 percent of families in the United States are at income levels that, depending on their circumstances, could allow them to be eligible for financial aid at Exeter.

Sensitive to the fact that its graduates still have college ahead of them, Exeter has a “no loan” policy, meaning that its students graduate free of debt. Overall, Exeter offers one of the most ambitious financial aid programs of any independent school or college in the United States.

Phillips Exeter Academy’s endowment has been growing over time and has recently topped the $1 billion mark. Additionally, the school’s ambitious fundraising campaign recently reached its $305 million goal two years ahead of schedule. A key goal of the fundraising campaign was financial aid.  The effects of these efforts have been and will be felt over time.

“As its resources increase, the Academy continues to take positive and bold steps to ensure that the school remains an engine of opportunity for able students from all backgrounds, regardless of their financial means,” Tingley said.

For the past two years, the school has been able to meet the full, demonstrated financial aid needs of all admitted students, making the Academy effectively “need blind.” Last year, as part of its ongoing effort to make the school more affordable to able students, Exeter announced that it would eliminate student loans as part of its financial aid program, replacing them with outright grants.

To help families make a decision about an Exeter education, the school has posted a page to its website,, which will allow families to see current family contributions at various income levels and family sizes, and estimate what an Exeter education might cost.