I’ve read quite a few stories about lower-class students attending great schools because they could receive a large scholarship. Educators seem to greatly respect those students who fought against poverty and its consequences. I think that admiration for breaking barriers is wonderful, but what about the students from middle-class communities; those whose parents aren’t poor enough to have to put them in poorly organized public schools, or could even place them in a relatively inexpensive private school, but can’t afford the load of a school that costs tens of thousands of dollars? How do admission officers see those students?
There are schools that have recognized the hardship to pay for middle class families and have taken steps to support those families. SPS and Groton come to mind.
There is a difference between making it in (i.e. being accepted) and getting the financial support you need for your child to attend. I think plenty of talented middle class students are accepted, however, I don’t know how many have their full need met. We’ve got a few friends whose kids go to Andover (we’re local) but they are all full pay.
Most schools will extend FA – not a full ride, but enough to be meaningful-- to middle class kids. They recognize that they otherwise would have a class of two extremes.
What I understand is that middle class kids are often notably absent from the applicant pool. They can get a decent education in their LPS so their parents are not willing to pay $20-30,000 per year (or whatever their calculated need is), especially when they know they’ll need it for college.
It can also be hard for middle class kids to look different from wealthier kids in terms of activities, etc. So if the school has already filled certain buckets (white girl from MA who plays field hockey and lax) from the pool that is also a legacy or who is full pay, it MAY be harder to make your application stand out in the FA pile.
If you are middle class and your parents are willing to pay some discounted amount of tuition, go for it. There’s no need to talk yourself out of applying. You may be exactly what they are looking for!
Related aside: perceptions of what constitutes “middle class” vary widely, and often diverge substantially from the actual HHI of the middle quintile for example, especially when controlled for geography.
My advice to someone who wants to go is always to apply and see what kind of FA offers you get (assuming you are admitted). You may be surprised, pleasantly or otherwise…
I think most Boarding schools try very hard to get kids who are low SES, middle and high income. The only thing you can do is apply and see what the result is.