Affording Independence

by Tammy Drennan


According to the Council for American Private Education, 28% of families who send their children to private school have household incomes under $50,000. I know some of these families – some send three and four children to private school.


In homeschooling circles, I’d venture to say the percentage is even higher. I can personally attest that you can give your kids an excellent education through homeschooling with an income way under $50,000.


According to CAPE, the average cost for religious private schools runs from about $3300 to $6800 a year, though the stats are for 2002, so you may want to add a few dollars. Non-sectarian schools can get pretty expensive.


Taking the high number, $6800/year, that comes out to $566 a month for one child. That could be tough on a lot of people, but it’s doable. Start thinking about ways to save, for starters. Cut out Star Bucks or sodas at McD’s. You could easily save $60 a month. Carry a lunch instead of buying it out. Think about all the little ways you waste money. Buy fewer clothes or buy cheaper. Do you really need another CD or DVD? Can you find a better deal on car or home insurance (I switched a few years ago and saved $300 a year)?


Another option would be to take on a little extra work. Or ask grandparents or others to contribute, either regularly or for special occasions. Your child could also work a part-time job and contribute.


You could do fundraisers in the summer — odd jobs, a part-time job, car washes, bake sales, computer services. You could offer to teach an extra-curricular class or do some maintenance at the school in exchange for a discount on tuition.


If you choose homeschooling, your expenses can be much lower. When I homeschooled (my sons are now grown), I allotted $1000/year to education costs — that’s $19 a week. Some years it was less, some as much as $2000. When my children were young, the public library was very useful. Today, there are many free supplementary resources available on the internet.


Join a homeschool group. Most now do classes and co-ops, and you can get discount rates for field trip activities.


Then there’s a mix of private and home school. Many private schools now allow homeschoolers to take individual classes or participate in extra-curricular activities.


Before assuming that independence is not a financial option for you, crunch the numbers. You may be surprised. With a little imagination, a little sacrifice, a little effort, you can probably do it.


Above all, consider the moral, social, spiritual and academic cost of not choosing independence. It can be astronomical.


Take your children’s future into your own hands, then pass it on to them as you train them to live free and empowered.

2 Responses to Affording Independence

  1. Frances says:

    I can vouch for this post. I homeschooled two kids when my husband made less than $30,000. Now that he makes more, our budget is $100/month. This includes supplies, curriculum (we don’t use curriculum for every subject), and extras (like going to the Japanese Gardens). My in-laws do pay for sports (about $120/ kid/ year). I would add to your list that you can drive a used car or become a one car family. Many people would save enough money on car payments and insurance to homeschool or send their kids to private school. We share one car at the moment. My husband carpools on some days so the kids and I have the car on some days and some days we don’t.

  2. wintertime says:

    Yes, there are expenses for homeschooiing but there are savings too.

    We saved a great deal on clothing. We didn’t need as much clothing. We bought many of their clothes at Goodwill, and we did not have any pressure from the children to buy designer shoes or other clothing.

    Also,… Our local government school charged fees for school trips and outings. For the cost of just a few of those government school trips we were able to buy a family membership at the zoo or a museum for the **whole** year for the **entire** family.

    School projects cost money too. Nearly every parent of an institutionalized child has stories of finding out about a school project and having to run out to buy poster board and other supplies.

    We did as Frances’ family. We did not have curriculum for every subject. When we did buy curriculum we used it for all the children. It is possible to buy used textbooks on line and at homeschooling fairs.

    In my opinion it costs as much to send at child to government school as it does to homeschool them.

    As for private school tuition:

    The **average** private school tuition in our state is about $4,000 dollars. This average includes very expensive and exclusive schools. If these expensive schools are eliminated from the average, we see that it is possible to find a very good private school for about $300 to $ 350 per month

    I have a soda habit. I like going to the carry out and buying a great big diet Mountain Dew 6 days a week. The cost for this habit is about $31/mo. I think many families could find 10 or 12 habits that if eliminated would pay for private tuition?

    Frances is also right about the car. Just to maintain our second car cost about $ 1,000 per year. The car, bought new, was about $20,000. Just the $20,000 is the tuition for 5 years of private schooling. Surely, there are many, if they eliminated the second car could pay for private tuition.

    Re: Grandparents

    I will be eternally grateful for my father-in-law who helped pay for piano, violin, some sports, swimming lessons, and dance lessons. These skills enrich the lives of my children every day of their adult lives. He died some years ago, but he is constantly in our memory due to the enjoyment his generosity has brings daily t to my children’s lives.

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