Aug 21, 2020 As a financial planner and homeschool dad I hear questions about homeschooling on a regular basis. One of the most frequent questions I hear both from client families I work with and friends alike is: “Can my family afford the cost to homeschool?”
The rewards of homeschooling have been more than I could have ever anticipated.
The great thing about homeschool is, unlike traditional one size fits all school, you make the decisions. That includes how much or how little you spend on your child’s education.
The decision to homeschool will still have a financial impact to your family. As you compare homeschool to traditional school, don’t forget to account for the costs that come along with traditional school. No, public school is not free. Even beyond your tax dollars, there are costs to consider. Keep reading for some the factors to consider as you compare the cost between different educational choices.
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What Are Some of the Costs for Public School Students?
A sample of some expenses a public-school student could incur.
Some classes or activities at school carry a fee. This can be anywhere from $20 up to several hundred dollars.
Some schools and districts have made fees for technology like laptops a requirement.
Some schools ask parents to shoulder the cost of certain textbooks.
If your child is in the band or orchestra, you probably expect to buy an instrument. The same expectation goes for sports. Most parents have an expectation of buying equipment for extracurricular activities. Charges for sports, clubs, and other activities are in addition to these kinds of costs. These can be several hundred dollars per activity in some parts of the country.
Number two pencils are still in existence. Even the slimmest list of required supplies for a school is a long list of items besides just a backpack and paper.
Your child must get to and from school. If you drive them, then that’s additional gas and miles throughout the year. Thinking about the bus? Some districts charge a fee for students that ride the bus.
Field trips almost always carry some cost.
School lunches have a cost to them, even for the food that’s barely food.
Graduations, field days, prom, or other special events can all carry a charge.
What Are Some of the Costs for Home School Students?
A sample of some expenses a homeschool student could incur.
Some families choose to buy a pre-packaged curriculum. Prices vary, buy plan for a few hundred dollars.
Plan for any books you’ll buy. Don’t forget about the library!
Protractors, Pens, erasers, or anything else you plan to use all carry a cost.
Plan for any spending on sports, clubs, music lessons, etc.
You can plan a field trip anywhere and anytime as a homeschool family. Our family often includes some educational stops when we go on vacation.
Some families choose to join an association to get help with recordkeeping and general help with their homeschool. These groups can be incredibly valuable but generally charge a fee for the service.
Other Financial Factors to Consider
The decision to homeschool, for some families, means the decision to be a single income household. If you plan to transition one spouse out of the workforce, plan appropriately for the change to your family’s income. Another frequent question I receive is about deducting the cost of homeschool on your taxes. There are many blessings that come with homeschool but help from the IRS is not one of those. Current tax laws do not allow you to deduct the cost of homeschooling on your federal taxes. A very small number of states allow a limited deduction on your state tax return. Finally, some families look at rules for 529 education savings plans which have a provision to use money for some private education expenses. This provision, however, does not carry over to homeschool under the current rules.
Use Your Resources
One thing our family has found is the homeschool community is incredibly willing to share and help! Resources, like facebook groups in your local community, can be very helpful if you’re considering the independent schooling route. This can mean help with everything from curriculum to free resources to local regulations. Choosing to be independent does not mean choosing to be alone.
Consider the Benefits of Homeschooling
Many of the benefits of homeschool are difficult to list on a balance sheet, but that doesn’t mean the upside is not there. Homeschool in my family has been tremendously valuable. One the greatest is how you customize for pace and learning style. If you student needs to spend a little more time on division, you can do it! If your son focuses better on reading while in a fort built with couch cushions, you can make that happen! One of the greatest benefits is the involvement you get to have as a parent in your child’s learning. How much is that worth?
Can Your Budget Handle Homeschool?
Homeschooling is a decision that will affect many parts of your family life and the money aspect us just one of many parts. As you consider the impact, do make a comparison that accurately compares traditional public-school costs with the costs of your homeschool. As a veteran homeschool dad, I can tell you there are indeed challenges. The rewards have been more than my wife and I could have ever anticipated. Good luck with your family’s journey on the educational path you choose for your child.
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