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Admissions Criteria

Considerations for Admission

Thank you for considering applying to Milton Hershey School. We value your decision to enhance your child’s education and future. Read on to learn more about our admissions criteria or take the next step today.

Milton Hershey School celebrates seniors with high five event

Giving Opportunities

Milton Hershey School was founded to enroll low-income and working-class students who demonstrate resilience—just like our founder Milton Hershey did. Mr. Hershey’s mission for the school is captured in its Deed of Trust, and many of our admissions criteria are rooted in this legal document.

Admissions Minimum Qualifications

Once you apply to Milton Hersey School, your application could be discontinued at any step in the process, whether because Admissions Minimum Qualifications are not met, additional admissions considerations, or because each year the school receives many more applications from students than it can accept.   

To be considered for enrollment, a child must meet the following five criteria:

Come from a low-income family

To meet the requirements of its Deed of Trust, Milton Hershey School reviews the family income of an applicant as part of its admissions criteria. The school considers income as it relates to the Federal Poverty Level and U.S. Census definitions. Non-cash benefits are not considered.

Each family’s situation is different. Please call us for help in determining your student’s financial eligibility for admission.

Be 4-15 years old at the time of enrollment

Milton Hershey School’s Deed of Trust also states the age range of students who may be admitted. A student must be 4 to 15 years old on their enrollment date—the date they arrive and begin classes. This date applies regardless of how many times a student has applied.

Have the ability to learn at MHS

To be eligible for admission, children must attain a score of 80 or higher on an I.Q. test. In addition, applicants must have demonstrated capacity to learn within the parameters of MHS academic programs, with or without reasonable accommodations.

Be free from serious behavioral problems likely to disrupt the classroom or student home life at MHS

Milton Hershey School is a unique learning and living environment. It is centered around group home living with eight to 12 other people who include other students, houseparents, and sometimes their children. There are strong expectations for behavior in the student homes, in the classroom, and across the campus. Serious behavior problems can affect the fundamental nature of this unique program.

Applicants are individually assessed for a wide range of behaviors. Milton Hershey School will assess the circumstances and potential impact of “serious behavioral problems,” defined as behavior that would be likely to disrupt life in the classroom or in the Milton Hershey School student home.

Overall, have the ability to participate in and benefit from the MHS program

Milton Hershey School is a private school. It does not have the same programs and is not required to provide the same services  as a public school.

A child cannot participate in and benefit from the Milton Hershey School program if:

  • They require academic or other services MHS does not provide
  • They are unable or unwilling to meet behavior expectations

Even if a child meets all the Admissions Minimum Qualifications, Milton Hershey School is not always the right fit for an individual child.

Impacting the Entire Family

Beyond providing amazing opportunities for its students, MHS also positively impacts the lives of their families.

Additional Admissions Considerations

Even if an applicant meets the minimum admissions criteria, MHS still considers a number of additional factors in admissions decisions, in its sole discretion.

Parental Availability

Need is one of the most important factors. It is anchored by a scale for parental availability. The highest priority is given to children who do not have a biological parent available to care for them.

Grade and Gender

To ensure that housing is available for applicants, Milton Hershey School may need to limit enrollment by grade and gender, which will affect admissions decisions.

Personal Characteristics

MHS also considers as positive factors other applicant characteristics, including:

  • Interest and motivation
  • Personal character
  • Special talent or skills
  • Leadership abilities (such as resilience, teamwork, persistence)
  • Contribution to the school’s commitment to a diverse community

Geography and Citizenship

Milton Hershey School students come from many states. However, the Deed of Trust gives preference to children from the tri-county area (Dauphin, Lancaster, and Lebanon Counties). Children from the rest of Pennsylvania are given the next preference. After that, we recruit qualified children from across the United States.

A Milton Hershey School elementary student holds her tablet outside of class.

When Can You Enroll?

The largest enrollment period is in August, September, and January. But, we do enroll students year round—apply now! Before submitting an application, consider getting to know us better.

Equal Opportunity Policy

In accordance with the Milton Hershey School’s Equal Opportunity Policy, the school admits qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, sex, religious creed, disability, or any other status protected under applicable federal or Pennsylvania law, to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school.

Milton Hershey School does not discriminate in admissions or other programs and services on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, sex, religious creed or disability. Read important MHS policies on equal opportunity and diversity, equal employment opportunity, and more.