Homeschooling requires careful budgeting but offers parents the flexibility to customize their children’s education

Financial Benefits and Drawbacks of Homeschooling

Homeschooling is an increasingly popular choice for parents who want to customize their children’s education outside the traditional system. It also requires careful budgeting. 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 the National Center for Education Statistics, average private school tuition was $10,740 for the 2011-2012 school year. Meanwhile, homeschooling can cost parents anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per year per student.

Con: May Require Reduced Work Hours or One Income

If you want to home-school 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.

Related: How should your retirement savings strategy change when you have kids? >>

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 home-schooling parents and families who need financial assistance to pay for a curriculum.

Companies offering curriculum or virtual classes for home-schooled 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: Available 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 or Expensive Access to Science Labs and Extracurriculars

For home-schoolers, 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, home-schooled students are able to participate in these programs at other local schools, but rules and requirements vary depending on the location.

Get Financial Advice and Start Saving

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.

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.

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