Marlowe's early education
Christopher Marlowe was awarded a scholarship to the King's School in December 1578, at the age of 14 years and 10 months -- just two months shy of the upper age limit of 15. As Peter Farey notes in a recent newsgroup discussion, "The unanswered question... is where Marlowe ..received his education before this, since a grammar school education took some six years at least, and he would not have been admitted to the King's School at that age without already having an ability to read and write English, and a good grounding in Latin grammar." Farey notes that although "the scholarship was available for 'fifty poor boys', the school did nevertheless accept additional pupils on a fee-paying basis." So "there is the possibility ... that Marlowe had been admitted on this basis much earlier." A.D. Wraight thought it was Sir Roger Manwood.
Farey continues..."[however] there is no need to assume [that someone paid Christopher's tuition] ...since there were free schools in Canterbury to which he could have had access, such as ...a relatively new school at Eastbridge Hospital," but "if he did to to school at Eastbridge, attendance there was restricted to four years, so -"a further couple of years at petty school would have probably been necessary first."
A third possibility also exists, Louis Ule and John Baker think that Marlowe was Sir Philip Sidney's page. Baker may have an essay on it. I'll ask him.
Young Christopher's role in the Cathedral choir was also covered by Farey in the same thread...You can read the full discussion
Chorister at the Cathedral?
Although A.D. Wraight and others have assumed the Marlowe leant his soulful voice to the choir at the Canterbury Cathedral, Peter Farey points out that "There is no record of Marlowe having ever been an actual chorister at the cathedral. However, by the terms of his scholarship he would have been required to 'assist' the choristers ....He would have had to attend services in the Cathedral some 80 times a year.
You can read the full discussion