Homeschooling is an increasingly popular choice for parents who want to customize their children’s education outside the traditional system. In a time of COVID-19, some parents also prefer the health and safety advantages of homeschooling their children.
However, homeschooling also requires careful budgeting and planning. Consider the following financial pros and cons as you weigh your decision.
✅ Pro: Homeschooling Costs Less Than Private School
If you aren’t considering public schools for your children, homeschooling is generally a less expensive option than most private schools.
According to Private School Review, the average private school tuition was about $11,000 for the 2020 school year. Meanwhile, homeschooling can cost parents anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per year per student.
❌ Con: Possible Reduced Work Hours or One Income
If you want to homeschool your children, you’ll need to factor lost income into your financial considerations. Children will need a parent present during the school day to teach and supervise, which means both parents probably won’t be able to work full-time.
In many cases, one parent ends up staying home while the other works. If that’s not financially feasible, one parent could switch to part-time or home-based employment instead, although this can create many challenges with work-life balance. Many parents find it very difficult to get their own work done while also trying to educate their children.
✅ Pro: Available Grants and State Tax Credits
Your home-schooling efforts may be eligible for a boost from grants and state tax credits. Erica Loop of Pocket Sense notes that the Home School Legal Defense Association offers a variety of grants for special-needs students, single homeschooling parents and families who need financial assistance to pay for a curriculum.
Companies offering curriculum or virtual classes for homeschooled students sometimes offer grants as well. According to Heather Levin of Money Crashers, some states also offer tax credits that can be applied to homeschooling.
Consulting with a tax professional is a good first step for learning more about these credits, as availability and eligibility requirements vary widely.
❌ Con: No Federal Tax Credits
The federal government doesn’t offer any tax credits that can be applied to homeschooling. During the debate in Congress over the 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, one amendment included provisions for expanding 529 educational savings plans to include home-schooling expenses. However, those provisions were left out of the final bill.
✅ Pro: Free or Inexpensive Learning Resources
Levin points out that, thanks to the internet’s wealth of free and inexpensive resources, even parents with budgetary constraints can assemble a strong home-schooling curriculum. Local libraries are also excellent sources for educational materials.
❌ Con: Limited Access to Labs and Extracurriculars
For homeschooled students, access to science labs isn’t as easy to come by as it would be in a public or private school. Sometimes home-schooling families pool their resources to offer more comprehensive science instruction, but this option isn’t always available or financially feasible.
The same is true for extracurricular activities.
“Homeschooling doesn’t offer the same opportunities in the arts, athletics and other activities that students get in public schools,” writes Tim Parker for Investopedia.
Sometimes, homeschooled students are able to participate in these programs at other local schools, but rules and requirements vary depending on the location.
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While homeschooling can be an affordable educational option, it also comes with some financial drawbacks. For some families, these drawbacks might not be significant, while others may find them too difficult to overcome. Either way, it’s important to be aware of them and include them in your planning so you can make the right decisions for your children’s education in 2020.
Need some guidance on the right way to save for your child’s education – for now and for the future? Learn more about our savings options and how they can help you prepare for a bright future.
Published by Minster Bank
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