Is It Possible To Get Into Private School for Free?

Exploring whether it is feasible for students to attend private schools at no cost is an important question for many parents. While scholarships and bursaries are commonly known methods, this article will also examine other less traditional ways that can help families manage or offset the costs of private education.

What is Private Education?

Definition and Characteristics of Private Schools

Private schools, also known as independent schools, operate without direct financial support from the public tax base, relying instead on tuition fees, donations, and private sources. These institutions are renowned for their rigorous academic programmes, smaller class sizes, and strong emphasis on discipline and extracurricular activities.

Advantages of Private Education

Private schools typically offer enhanced academic opportunities, more personalised attention due to lower teacher-to-student ratios, superior facilities, and a wider array of extracurricular activities. They also have higher rates of students advancing to prestigious universities.

The Cost of Private Education in the UK

Typical Costs Associated with Private Schooling

Attending a private school in the UK can be costly, with fees ranging from £10,000 to £30,000 per year. Additional expenses such as uniforms, trips, and extracurricular activities can further increase these costs.

Comparison with Public Schooling

Unlike private schools, public schools in the UK do not charge tuition fees as they are funded by the government. This fundamental difference in funding is a major barrier for many families considering private education.

Scholarships and Bursaries: Traditional Gateways to Free Private Education

Understanding Scholarships and Bursaries

Scholarships are merit-based awards for students who exhibit exceptional abilities in academics, sports, or the arts. Bursaries, however, are means-tested financial aids that help based on family income and financial need.

How to Qualify for Scholarships

Criteria Type Common Requirements
Academic Exceptional grades
Artistic Portfolio submission
Sporting Athletic achievements

How to Qualify for Bursaries

Income Level Savings Home Value
< £55,000 Must demonstrate ability to contribute < £300,000

Additional Ways to Access Private Schooling

1. Educational Grants

Charitable organisations and trusts often offer grants that can cover part or all of private school tuition.

2. Sponsorship Programs

These programs, often funded by alumni or businesses, can cover full or partial tuition costs for students who excel in specific areas.

3. Corporate Scholarships

Companies may provide scholarships to employees’ children as part of their benefits packages.

4. Financial Aid from Religious or Community Groups

Support from community or religious groups can take the form of direct financial aid, scholarships, or loans.

5. Government Programs

Some regions may offer subsidies or vouchers to help cover private schooling costs.

6. Flexible Payment Plans

Schools may allow tuition fees to be paid in instalments, easing the financial burden on families.

7. Work-Study Programs

Older students may be able to work on campus in exchange for tuition fee reductions.

8. Military Scholarships

Children of military personnel may be eligible for special scholarships or reduced fees at some private schools.

Application Process and Deadlines

Applying for financial aid typically requires submitting detailed applications by set deadlines, often at the end of November for the following academic year.

Real-Life Success Stories

Inspirational stories of students who attended private schools through these financial aids highlight the transformative impact on their education and personal development.


While the costs associated with private education can be prohibitive, multiple avenues exist—beyond scholarships and bursaries—that can help make private schooling more accessible. Among these options, the scholarships and bursaries offered by institutions like Cambridge School Online provide significant opportunities for financial aid. Cambridge School Online offers scholarships for truly exceptional students and bursaries that provide up to 50% off school fees for families with incomes below the average household threshold of £55,000 and home values less than £300,000. These bursaries and scholarships are crucial for making private education more accessible to a wider range of students. The school requires that recipients of financial aid participate in promoting and sharing their positive experiences, contributing to the community and encouraging others to explore similar opportunities.


What is private education?

Private education refers to schools that operate independently of public funding, primarily relying on tuition fees, donations, and private investments. Known as independent schools, these institutions are celebrated for their rigorous academic programs, small class sizes, and a strong focus on discipline and diverse extracurricular activities.

What are the benefits of attending a private school?

Private schools offer several advantages including more personalised attention due to lower student-to-teacher ratios, superior academic and extracurricular opportunities, advanced facilities, and a higher likelihood of students progressing to prestigious universities.

How do private school costs in the UK compare to public schools?

Private schooling in the UK can be expensive, typically ranging from £10,000 to £30,000 annually, not including additional costs like uniforms and school trips. In contrast, public schools are government-funded and do not charge tuition fees, making private education a significant financial commitment in comparison.

What financial aids are available to help cover private school fees?

Besides scholarships and bursaries, families can explore educational grants, sponsorship programs, corporate scholarships, support from religious or community groups, government programs, flexible payment plans, work-study options, and military scholarships to help manage or offset the costs of private schooling.

What is required to apply for scholarships and bursaries at private schools?

To qualify for scholarships, students typically need to demonstrate exceptional abilities in academics, sports, or the arts. Bursaries are means-tested aids based on family income and financial need, with specific criteria often related to income levels, savings, and home values. The application process involves detailed submissions and adhering to strict deadlines, usually by the end of November for the following academic year.

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