We all want the best for our kids, and when it comes to providing a good life, access to education is a crucial ingredient. We all have the ability to learn, but is education something we can all afford? As Sydney J. Harris said, “the whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.” Homeschooling is a popular option for parents that want more control over their children’s learning as well as for digital nomad families or freelancing parents. Read on to learn how to decide if choosing to homeschool is right, and how to save money on homeschooling costs.
It’s no secret that private schools are expensive. Nationally, the average cost of private school tuition ranges from slightly shy of US$10,000 to US$15,000 a year between elementary and high school levels. That means on average, each parent or household of a private-schooled student is likely to spend over US$100,000 between their child’s middle school and high school education.
Spending that much before your child is even in college isn’t a reality for most families, but public school isn’t exactly free, either. There is always a price to pay when dealing with public schools, even if you don’t have children enrolled in the school.
Location can cost (or save) you money
Different states and cities pay different tax rates, resulting in uneven distribution of access to education. This negatively affects communities on a national level and further perpetuates educational inequality.
Nationally, within the past decade, the cost of public education has increased by a minimum of 25% in each state. We’ve seen as much as a 30-45% increase in state education taxes between 2005 to 2019.
We live in expensive times, but where we reside regionally could also contribute to our annual expenses being higher or lower than the average. In states such as Utah and Kansas, the state spends roughly US$6,000-$9,230 per student before local and federal expenses are factored in.
In comparison, states like New York, Texas and the District of Columbia spend anywhere from US$10,000 to US$18,000 per student each school year.
Choosing to homeschool
Realizing you could be spending over six figures just to ensure the quality of your child’s safety and education can send you into a guilt frenzy. Thankfully, there are other schooling options and ways to cope with guilt that won’t leave you bankrupt.
With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more parents are seeing the benefits of homeschooling. Even if homeschooling isn’t a permanent change for your family, there are significant benefits to homeschooling outside of staying safe during a pandemic.
However, you need to gather all the puzzle pieces before choosing to dive into it. There are many myths around the reality of homeschooling, which, if you don’t prepare for correctly, could end up hindering your budget.
How to save on homeschooling costs
Homeschooling can provide many benefits such as more time with your child and control over their curriculum. However, the option of educating your child in house still isn’t free. You can save money on some of the unavoidable costs of education with the following tips:
Partner with other homeschooling parents. Not only can you all split costs of classroom and field trip costs, but it gives your kids the opportunity to work with others. Also, parents can share the workload of teaching the curriculum.
Apply for grants and scholarships. Do your research to see what you can apply for, but there are organizations that look to help support single-parent and low-income families that wish to homeschool their children.
Buy used books. Typically, homeschool parents spend US$300-$600 on books and curriculum aids, but used books usually are a fraction of the price. Plus, you can always resell them after the school year.
Search for free online courses. This could be as easy as typing in hashtags on Facebook and Instagram to find classes and videos on the subject you’re looking for.
Check out your local library. Local libraries are great for building your curriculum, and many will accommodate homeschooling needs.
Tell your internet and cable providers that you have a student in the house. Many companies offer student discounts that could save you money with each monthly payment.
Shop around for supplies. Public schools are underfunded, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. Often when parents are asked to pitch in for supplies, they provide for the entire class, not just their child.
Where not to penny pinch on homeschooling costs
Though there are many ways to save, some individual costs shouldn’t be skipped when it comes to a day in the life of homeschooling a preschooler or high school student. Unfortunately, one of the greatest myths of homeschooling is that you get tax deductions, but that’s simply untrue.
As of now, there may not be tax write-offs, but there are many benefits to choosing to homeschool your child. Some of those benefits are:
Control over what and how your child learns
Quality time with your children
The ability to incorporate culture and home lessons into your child’s curriculum
Control over time dedicated to each subject. Unlike in public or private school settings, your child’s ability and comprehension can set each subject’s pace.
Less likelihood of your child experiencing academic burnout.
The ability for students to learn how to manage physical and mental health ailments such as anxiety or depression
To maximize these benefits and more, consider the extra expenses for homeschooling costs outside of the basics. You want to give your student access to knowledge and the opportunity to appreciate and enjoy learning.
A few additional homeschooling costs to consider are:
Tutors – No one is a master of every subject. A tutor may be needed for topics you are not well versed in, and even for ones you are. This expense doesn’t have to get out of hand. Search for local college students who can help mentor your child in those more challenging subjects.
Software – Many educational resources are done virtually and online now, even in school settings. Computer software can get pricey, so it is best to plan which ones you need to keep from overspending.
Art supplies – You don’t want to skip out on the arts, but the average household doesn’t have space for a dedicated craft room. Budget in art supply costs and experiences.
Extracurricular activities – Children need to get physical exercise and grow their passions. If your child wishes to play sports, you will need to make sure you can accommodate their schooling budget to include any extracurricular activity fees.
Camps – Day or overnight camps give your child chances to make friends and try new activities that could be incorporated into their classroom.
Field trip costs – In many cases, showing is better than telling. Just like how classrooms can become tedious, so can being in your own space. Budget in days for getaways and destination field trips that they would experience if they were in public school.
Crack open the books and spare your wallet
Take advantage of each benefit that is homeschooling. You are able to spend quality time with your children and directly impact how they receive their education, which is priceless. Keep schooling affordable and flexible by doing your best to set and stick to an education budget that will help both you and your student succeed.
The biggest mistake homeschooling parents can make is not asking for help when they need it. Communal support is vital when it comes to a child’s development and keeping your sanity. Providing a unique academic experience for your child is possible on any budget if you’re willing to go the extra mile.
This article was contributed by Danielle Beck-Hunter. Danielle writes and researches for the auto insurance site, AutoInsurance.org and spent years tutoring public and homeschooled students in English and science before graduating from the University of Nevada.
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