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Admissions Criteria

Considerations for Admission

Thank you for considering applying to Milton Hershey School. We value your decision in enhancing your child’s education and future. Each year, Milton Hershey School receives far more applications from working-class individuals who meet the minimum qualifications for admission than the school can accept. Learn more about our admissions criteria.

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.

Admissions Minimum Qualifications

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

Come from a family of lower income

As a charitable trust, MHS is required to periodically review this criteria. Currently the applicants’ total household income may not exceed 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, and half of the applicants admitted are at or below the FPL. When calculating income and household size, MHS considers all related persons residing in the household (e.g., grandparents, aunts, uncles, stepparents), and non-cash benefits are not considered.

The methods used to calculate income and household size correlate with U.S. Census definitions.

Be 4-15 years old at the time of enrollment

The minimum and maximum age at enrollment (i.e., the date a student is enrolled by arriving at MHS to begin classes, not the date the student is accepted for enrollment) is set in the Deed of Trust. This applies to both initial enrollment and to applications for re-enrollment.

Have the ability to learn

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 of serious behavioral problems that are likely to disrupt life in the classroom or student home life at MHS

MHS has a unique environment, including group home living with eight-12 other students, houseparents and sometimes their children. There are strong expectations for conduct, behavior, and responsibilities in the student homes and on-campus, as well as in the classroom. Applicants are assessed individually for a wide range of behaviors, with consideration given to the severity, when it occurred, interventions, and other factors.

Be able to participate and benefit from the school’s program

As a private institution, Milton Hershey School does not have all programs and accommodations as a public school. The MHS program also includes extra-curricular and year-round activities and a  home life program. If a child has academic or other needs or services that MHS does not provide, or is unable or unwilling to meet behavioral or other expectations in all aspects, including home life, then the child cannot participate and benefit from the MHS program.


Additional Considerations in Admissions Decisions

Even if an applicant meets the minimum qualifications, admission is not guaranteed. Milton Hershey School examines a number of factors in making decisions regarding recruitment, selection for interview, and admission. One of the most important factors is need, as measured by a scale for parental availability with the highest score given to children who do not have either biological parent available to care for them.

Milton Hershey School also considers applicants’ interest and motivation, personal character, special talent or skills, leadership abilities (such as resilience, teamwork, persistence) and contribution to the diversity of the student body (see the MHS diversity statement). In addition, the school limits enrollment by grade and sex, based on available housing. Many factors are considered and no one factor is determinative.

Although current students come from many states, in accordance with the school’s Deed of Trust, children from the tri-county area, and children from the rest of Pennsylvania, are given some preference during the admissions process.

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.

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.