How to parents pay for schools for troubled teens? Have you recently discovered the high costs of therapeutic boarding schools, residential treatment centers, or wilderness programs?
For the average middle class family, the fees can be staggering. Even people of means may experience “sticker shock” at the tuition of these programs.
Due to the extensive costs of operating specialty schools with the appropriate licenses, credentialed staff, and certified educational accreditation, it is extremely expensive.
The average cost of private therapeutic boarding schools and programs is approximately $8,500 per month and are generally not all-inclusive. There is usually a separate processing fee which can range from $2,500-$3,500 and normally covers insurances, administrative costs, and other various charges.
Some programs will include the uniform in that fee. Other programs will have an additional fee for uniforms. When choosing a program, be sure to ask specifically what is included and what extra fees to expect. If a private program is less than $5,000 per month, please be sure to do your research.
Specifically, when you are reviewing religious programs, they don’t always have to meet the same standards or regulations that credentialed schools do. You can locate treatment centers that have spiritual component; however many religious affiliated programs do not have any reporting agencies which can be very troubling. For more information on this, Dateline did a segment about it, Broken Circle.
Many programs offer a discount if tuition is paid up front or paid quarterly. This is an individual decision which is dependent on your financial circumstances and family’s needs.
Educational Loans for Healthcare
Behavioral Health Loan Information
- Lightstream Medical Loans Fixed rate, simple interest fully amortizing installment loans, no fees or prepayment penalties.
- M-Lend Financial Options include interest free credit cards (at no additional costs) and low interest installment loans for various credit ratings up to 84-month terms and $100,000. Particularly for addiction treatment. With no interest charges for an extended period, this can be a welcome bridge to financing.
- Prosper Lending Lends up to $35,000 for Health/Medical/Treatment at customized lending rates based on credit history, credit worthiness, and amount requested.
- Cross Bank Medical Financing Loan amounts range from $1,000 to $35,000. No loans are offered in Connecticut, New York, West Virginia, and Vermont. An origination fee of 8% is included in the principal loan amount. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit as a yearly rate. The APR offered to you will depend on such factors as your credit score, application information, loan amount, loan term, and credit history.
- Upstart Medical Loans Lends from $1000 to $50,000.00.
You can also ask the school or program you are considering if they have their own lenders.
If a child has a college fund, it might be a good time to use it. Although we expect (or hope) our children will want to go to college, getting your teen the emotional help, they need is imperative. Without having coping skills, mental health wellness and social stability – it will be extremely difficult for them to be successful in higher education – whether it is college or a trade school.
If you have a 529 Plan, ask your financial advisor or accountant for more information about withdrawing funds.
When the time comes when they are ready for that step and you have exhausted your educational fund, there are always grants and scholarships for which to apply.
Individual Educational Plan (IEP)
Does your child have an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) through your local school district? In some cases, this may defer some of your tuition costs in respect to the academic component of a boarding school or program. If you have an IEP in place for your child, it is important to ask the school or program you are considering if they work with IEPs and discuss the reimbursement process. For more information on IEPs, click here.
Home Equity Credit Line
Another alternative to financing a program is a Home Equity Credit Line. This can be beneficial to you in a few ways. Not only is a convenient way to access money that is needed, but it can also be a tax deduction in regards to the interest payments.
Please keep in mind, sometimes the program you are sending your child to can also be a tax deduction in regard to medical expenses. The therapeutic and medical portions of the tuition can usually be deducted. Check with your tax preparer or accountant for more information.
Credit cards, though carrying a potentially high interest rate, may be able to provide you with the initial monies to enroll your child until you are able to access an educational loan, credit line, or other means of payment.
Many parents will use a credit card which accumulates airline miles or other beneficial services and pay it off within the 28-30 days with their credit line or other financial means. This prevents you from incurring finance charges. It can also be a way to earn airline travel to use when it comes time to visit your child if they are out of state.
Contact your medical insurance provider to see if they cover residential placement. Some will cover the first 30 days or possibly the therapeutic portion of your child’s stay (generally one third of the tuition). PPO’s are typically more likely to cover some costs, however it never hurts to check with your insurance company.
In searching for programs, you may want to ask the program if they accept your insurance or have experience with how much you could expect from your specific insurance company. Having them process a verification of benefits (VOB) prior you enrolling your child or signing any contacts can be helpful in giving you a better idea of what your insurance will cover. Not all programs will do this, but most of them will.
PPO Insurance Benefits
Depending on your insurance policy, is where you answer starts. Most PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) policies will offer out-of-network benefits after you have meet an out-of-network deductible. These providers include (but not limited to): Aetna, Cigna, United Healthcare and (UMR), and Blue Cross Blue Shield.
If you decide to stay in-network with your PPO provider, you will have more financial coverage. The one struggle parents run into is they are typically shorter-term facilities and the more concerning issue is the teenager has to be a willing participant. In other words, they don’t permit your teen to be transported to the program.
When considering private therapeutic boarding schools, PPO insurance out-of-network benefits will typically cover a portion of the clinical component of the program, however you will still have out-of-pocket costs. These schools and programs will offer you a courtesy verification of benefits (VOB) to give you a strong determination of what is covered for you. By having the program complete the VOB for you, rather than doing this yourself, you will get a more accurate result — since they have a better understanding of their billing codes.
There are some therapeutic boarding schools that will file your insurance for you and deduct it from your invoices, while other programs will give you what they call super-bills. With these super-bill invoices, you will have to file them with your provider and wait for your reimbursement.
Medicaid, HMO or Tricare Insurance
For families that have Medicaid, HMO or a Tricare health insurance policy, and you would like your medical benefits to cover your child’s behavioral modification program — please contact the number on your insurance card and ask them for residential treatment centers in your network. This way you will have coverage. Self-pay programs start at about $8000 per month and up. They usually will only accept PPO insurance policies.
You can visit a single-child-insurance plan or some HMO’s offer single case agreements (SCA).
A Single Case Agreement (SCA) is a contract between an insurance company and an out-of-network provider for a specific patient, so that the patient can see that provider using their in-network benefits (i.e., the patient will only have to pay their routine in-network co-pays for sessions after meeting their in-network deductible (if any).
Single Child Insurance Policy for Mental Health
If you live in the following states, AZ, CO, FL, IL, KS, MO, NC, TN, UT, and VA, Cigna Health Insurance offers a single child mental health insurance policy. Open enrollment is only once or twice a year. Call for more information – (800) 244-6224. You can also ask the school or program you are considering if they accept this policy.
Other insurance companies, such as Aetna and United Healthcare may also offer this. It is important to apply during their open enrollment, which usually starts on November 1st through January 15th. If you are not listed in the states above, you may want to contact the providers to ask if they have expanded into your area yet.
Family or Employee Loan
Many families will borrow from relatives, or, in some cases, employers have been known to contribute to the family. There is a chance that this could also be a tax deduction for individuals or companies. Don’t be afraid to ask the program if they offer scholarships; some do have limited financial aid, so it is important to ask.
Was Your Child Adopted?
The Adoptive Families Coalition welcomes and helps families with post-adoption challenges. They offer a unique plan to assist in meeting the high cost of therapeutic boarding schools and residential treatment centers. You can find the sponsorship application page at http://adoptive.org or Call (602)-740-7149 or (602)-390-0220.
If you adopted your child through foster-care, there may also be financial resources for you. Check with your social worker and the state your child was adopted in to determine your benefits. Some private teen help programs are contracted with state foster-care agencies to assist families of struggling teens.
Was Your Child a Victim of a Crime?
If your child is struggling because they were a victim of a crime, there are funds available to help you pay for therapeutic boarding schools and residential treatment in every state. In some cases, the entire tuition or most of the cost can be covered. You must apply for assistance in the state in which the crime was committed.
We should note that the crime must be merely reported and have a case number, it does not need to have gone to trial or resulted in a conviction to be eligible for funding. The National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards has a list of all of the state crime victim compensation web sites where you can begin to apply for funding for a therapeutic boarding school and residential treatment center.
P.U.R.E. does not offer any scholarships or financial aid.
If you are searching for free programs or programs that accept Medicaid, please contact your Medicaid provider for a list or programs in network. Your local United Way may also have resources for you.
DISCLAIMER P.U.R.E.™ makes no claims to the accuracy of this content and makes no warranties or guarantees that the information will result in funding or even potential funding. This information is not intended as financial advice, and P.U.R.E. is not responsible for the financial choices you make based upon this information. We highly recommend that you consult with a registered financial advisor or your accountant. Also, please take into consideration the entire breadth of your family’s financial obligations before selling any of your assets or entering into any kind of loan agreement, whether it be a personal or institutional loan.
P.U.R.E.™ is not compensated by any financial organizations on this page or otherwise. This page is strictly for informational purposes.