In recent years, more and more parents are choosing to homeschool their kids, and it is not just because of the pandemic. This educational option offers many intrinsic benefits not only for the child but also for the family.
That said, there is one question you’d find yourself asking before taking the same route: How much does homeschooling cost?
Every family is unique, so it is hard to pin down the average cost of homeschooling. However, understanding its financial aspects is the only way for you to know if you can afford it and, ultimately, if it is worth it.
- What Are the Cost Components of Homeschooling?
- How Much Does Homeschooling Cost?
- Are There Tax Breaks for Homeschooling Families?
- Is Homeschooling More Affordable Than Traditional Schools?
- How Can Homeschooling Families Save Money?
- Is Homeschooling Worth It?
What Are the Cost Components of Homeschooling?
As mentioned, every homeschooling situation is different, so there is no quick way to estimate how much you might end up spending. The best you can do is to understand the individual components that drive the total cost and go from there.
To help you out, here is a quick look at the things you should factor into your homeschooling budget:
There are many ways that your child’s curriculum will affect how things play out during your homeschooling journey.
Firstly, it determines the academic path your child would take to a large extent. As such, it will also dictate how much they will actually learn. Secondly, it will have a significant impact on your expenses.
There are many options available today, from online courses to workbooks and study guides. Depending on your choice, the curriculum could be your most expensive purchase if you decide to homeschool.
To give you a better idea, some complete curriculum packages can cost around a thousand dollars. Given all the stakes involved, it is no wonder that many parents spend long hours agonizing over which curriculum to use.
Homeschooling does not necessarily mean you will be cooped up inside the house for hours on end. From time to time, your child might have to join classes that are not accessible at home.
Some of the most common examples are music, swimming, languages, or those offered by museums and libraries.
These classes come in a wide range of price points. One could set you back as little as $10, while another might cost you hundreds of dollars. It all depends on the nature of the activity or the type of class.
On top of this, you also have to set aside a budget for athletics and field trips, especially if they are in line with your child’s interests.
Another thing you should consider when evaluating the cost of homeschooling is the school supplies. There are times when your child will need textbooks, or you will have to print some resources.
Science projects, crafts, and other similar activities would also require different materials.
So, even if you are at home, you would need to buy certain school supplies. In some cases, office equipment like a binding machine would be very helpful. This is especially true if you handle lots of documents, workbooks, and printed materials.
Aside from the direct expenses that come with homeschooling, there are other things that might affect the total cost, depending on your situation.
For instance, one of the parents might have to stay home full-time to teach the kids. For dual-income households, this would mean losing a big chunk of the family’s revenue.
On the other hand, if you think you can meet your family’s needs on one income, homeschooling would be a great choice for you.
If you want to transition from traditional school to homeschooling, you need to decide who keeps working and who stays at home with the kids. It might all boil down to who has the higher income or who is better at being a stay-at-home parent.
Another challenge is that you might have to spend more on groceries since you would be snacking at home more often. It might not seem much at first glance, but these small expenses would add up over time.
How Much Does Homeschooling Cost?
At this point, you should already have a better idea of the individual expenses that come with this alternative educational option. So, how much does homeschooling cost, all in all?
On average, a curriculum would set you back anywhere between $350 and $750. That said, don’t be surprised if you see programs that cost more.
School supplies usually fall within the range of $150 and $300, depending on how much you rely on workbooks, printed materials, and other items.
Most homeschooling families also spend $100 to $250 on field trips and $100 to $500 on extracurricular activities.
So, if you sum it all up, the average annual cost of homeschooling one student ranges between $700 and $1800.
Again, it is important to remember that this is only a rough estimate, and things would be very different if you have unique needs. For instance, if your child is dyslexic, you might have to pay for specialized instructors that offer remedial reading programs.
Another thing you need to consider is if one parent has to quit working to focus on homeschooling.
Are There Tax Breaks for Homeschooling Families?
If you take your child out of public school, does this mean you won’t have to pay school taxes? Sadly, the answer is no. As long as you are a homeowner, you will have to pay local property taxes, some of which are used to fund public schools.
Note that there are currently no federal tax breaks for homeschooling households. Also, the list of states that do offer them is short. It includes Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Iowa, and Minnesota.
So, unless you live in one of these states, there is a good chance you will have to pay the full amount on all your homeschooling expenses. To make sure you do not miss out on any of these opportunities, check the laws on homeschooling in your area.
Is Homeschooling More Affordable Than Traditional Schools?
With public schools, you do not have to pay tuition as it is subsidized by the government through taxes. However, this does not mean that it is free. You still have to spend money on school supplies, field trip fees, and other extracurricular activities.
If your child is into athletics, this will drive the cost up even more. A good example is field hockey, where you have to buy expensive sports equipment and pay for transportation and tournament fees.
That said, homeschooling can be more expensive than sending your child to public school. This is especially true if you do not find ways to drive the costs down, which we will talk more about later.
The story is very different when it comes to private schools. The average cost of tuition alone is $12,350, and that is just for an elementary student. High school tuition is even more expensive. On top of this, some private schools charge separate fees for books.
How Can Homeschooling Families Save Money?
Homeschooling is not free, but it does not have to be expensive. There are ways to manage the cost without sacrificing the quality of your child’s education.
- When choosing a curriculum, make sure you find one that fits your child’s interests and strengths. That way, you do not waste money on a program you would just end up replacing or not using.
- You do not have to shell out money on very expensive programs, either. There are low-cost or even free curriculum options, but you do have to be patient to find a good one. You could also look for free online courses that can supplement your curriculum.
- If you homeschool multiple kids, consider finding a curriculum you can reuse from student to student. Another alternative is to attend curriculum swaps with other homeschooling parents that you know.
- When shopping for school supplies, take advantage of tax-free shopping days or look for stores that offer discounts. You could also buy in bulk if this costs less.
- Some local libraries offer free learning programs or tools, so you should always be on the lookout for one. You could also look for free virtual field trips or incorporate life skills like cooking and cleaning into the curriculum.
Finally, if your curriculum includes frequent trips to the museum, consider getting a membership or season pass. It is usually more cost-effective than getting a day pass every time you go there.
Other advantages of having a museum membership are that you get previews of special events, discounts on exhibits, free guest passes, and more.
Is Homeschooling Worth It?
Homeschooling requires much of your time, energy, and sometimes, even money. That said, it offers a lot of benefits in return.
Most students excel in this environment, where the program is customized to fit their unique learning needs. They go on to be successful in college and beyond, which is the whole point of choosing an alternative educational option in the first place.
Most importantly, spending more time with your kids will bring the family closer together. It will give you a chance to inspire the values you feel are important, which is something you could not put a price on.