How to Plan for the Costs of Your Child’s Education

When you have children, there are a variety of expenses to consider as they grow up. Unfortunately, food, clothing, and protective gear you buy for your children—while essential—are not going to show you a tangible return on your investment, other than their survival. Out of all the goods and services you pay at a premium for your child, there is one indispensable tool that will show appreciation for a lifetime: education.

Therefore, when starting the process of enrolling your child in school, there are some expenses to consider, especially when you break down the quality of education your child receives throughout the stages of his or her life. Below are the fundamental types of education that might cost you more than you bargained for.

Day care

The cost of childcare for babies and toddlers in the United States can be an astounding expense for most families. The average price tag for childcare that is center-based is $11,666 per year. Of course, this depends on your child’s age, where you live, the type of childcare you prefer, and how often your child will be supervised. The least expensive states report childcare short of $4,000 per year, while in the most expensive states, childcare can cost up to $18,000 annually.

In families where each parent works a day job, the high costs of child care don’t always make it a realistic option. In this situation, an alternative route might be best. Instead of placing their newborn or toddler in a childcare center, many parents choose to hire a full-time nanny or utilize at-home day care that might have significantly reduced fees.

Of course, sometimes the best—and free—solution is to have an extended family member provide child care. Since young children, particularly newborns, don’t require a substantial amount of education, a family member or close friend is usually more than capable of providing for a child’s basic needs. The added bonus is that the child develops a strong connection with that friend or family member due to one-on-one interactions.

Public or private education

Once your child is at the stage of entering kindergarten, education becomes a critical factor in his or her development. Public education is notably free in tuition expenses, although these schools often have hidden costs that can still raise your budget for education. Some of these costs include modern supplies, like a laptop; transportation, such as a personal vehicle; college prep, if your child chooses to move on to higher education; special events, like prom and graduation ceremonies; and extracurricular activities, if your child is inclined to play a sport or participate in outside clubs.

The national average for private tuition education in the United States is $10,003 per year. Like the cost of day care, this price is determined by a number of factors. Just like property taxes, education expenses can vary widely depending on which state you reside in. If you reside in a state with a higher cost of living, the educational expenses can double. The state of Connecticut boasts a private tuition price tag of $20,000 annually. But if you live in a less expensive state, private school tuition can be considerably lower, with most of the schools averaging just a few thousand dollars per year. Other private school options, such as military schools, can cost $5,000 per year, while most boarding schools average around $60,000 annually.

College tuition

Higher education is almost never planned for early on in a child’s life. The best way to prepare, of course, is by establishing a college fund while your child is young. That way, by the time your child is ready for university life, you won’t be in complete shock by a $9,000 to $33,000 yearly tuition, which is the cost for in-state public colleges and private colleges, respectfully.

There are always areas in which you can cut down for college expenses. Always take advantage of scholarships and grants, even ones that require an essay or other type of submission. Some online degrees are also more affordable and allow better flexibility in a student’s schedule.

There are also millions of scholarship opportunities available to students to help them with college education expenses. Don’t wait until high school to explore scholarship possibilities. Many scholarship programs are offered to middle school and even elementary-school-aged children to use when they enroll in a higher-education program after graduating from high school. Scholarships and other kinds of financial aid—especially those offered from government agencies and individual education institutions—often consider income as a qualifying factor. It’s important to understand your financial situation in order to apply and qualify for scholarships that your child is eligible for.

There are many expenses to consider for your children, but the most important expense of all is their education. It’s important to explore all your options well ahead of time so that you’ll be prepared each step of the way.