The Financial Pros and Cons of Home Schooling

Home schooling is an increasingly popular choice for parents who want the flexibility to customize their children’s education outside the traditional system. It’s also a choice that requires careful budgeting. Here are some financial pros and cons to consider before you dive in.

Pro: Costs less than private schooling

If you aren’t considering public schools for your children, home schooling 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, Angie Mohr writes for Investopedia that home schooling can cost parents anywhere from $300 to $2,500 per year per student.

Con: May require reduced work hours or one-income family

If you want to home-school your children, you will 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 is not financially feasible, one parent could switch to part-time or home-based employment instead.

Pro: Grants and state tax credits are available

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 home schooling. 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 are offered

The federal government doesn’t offer any tax credits that can be applied to home schooling. 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: Many free or inexpensive learning resources are available

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 an excellent source for educational materials.

Con: Access to science labs and extracurricular activities can be expensive or limited

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. “Home schooling 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.

While home schooling can be a very 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 regarding your children’s education.


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