Affording Independence

December 17, 2008

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.