Access and financial aid have been a cornerstone of Belmont Hill’s history. As noted in the School's first brochure, a competitive scholarship program was available to families from the very first year. In the spring of 1924, the Jerry Merryman Franklin Fellowship, endowed by Miss Mabel Lyman, was created to provide aid for boys who combined intellectual ability with a character of noble quality.
As the School grew and became more financially stable, the push for more financial aid funds became a main focus. In the late 1940s, Charles F. Hamilton made that push to have scholarship money available through the Alumni and Parent Funds as well as whatever they could pull from the operating fund. It continued to be funded that way through the 1950s and early 1960s, with a typical annual financial aid fund of $11,000. Mr. Hamilton did not want the School to become a place that was inaccessible to students who could benefit from it and be an addition to it, and so the push continued.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the financial aid funds exponentially increased, from $27,000 to $75,000. During this time, there was a grant from the Independence Foundation, which helped increase the amount given to students. It was then that financial assistance became more firmly established. Additionally, the Progress Fund, which helped to kickstart the endowment, was established in 1968, marking the start of an era of increasing growth.
The financial aid funds continued a slow growth during Mr. Aloian’s tenure as Head of School. In the 1980s and through 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s, the financial aid funds continued to increase consistently under Mr. Wadsworth and Dr. Melvoin. It was an initiative of Mr. Wadsworth to grow the financial aid funds, which was accomplished by the Campaign for Excellence and its $6 million goal. Under Dr. Melvoin’s 25 years of leadership, the financial aid appropriation rose from $750,000 to over $5.3 million.
In 2021, Belmont Hill awarded $5.9 million to families, with the average grant of $41,413. From the start of the School to now, our community and leadership were determined to make Belmont Hill a place for all to attend and not a place that was out of reach. It is with determination that we will continue that legacy as we head into the next 100 years.
Making Belmont Hill possible for outstanding boys is at the core of our mission. Financial aid provides opportunity for boys and their families; but more fundamentally, it enriches our student body. It gives us the chance to make a difference in the lives of deserving students—young scholars, athletes, and artists with untapped potential—who simply could not otherwise afford to come here. Strong financial aid benefits all students because we are a better school when we welcome the richness of perspective and the diversity of ideas brought by a wide range of students. Today, we award need-based aid to almost 30 percent of the student body. Yet, in too many years, there are bright and talented boys who exceed the standards for admission and show every promise of the ability to thrive here, but cannot attend due to the lack of funding.