How Much Homeschooling Costs: A Look at Yearly Expenses

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One of the most commonly asked questions I receive is how much homeschooling costs. Typically, my answer is, “More than public school, but less than private school.” But a closer look at the actual expenses is helpful when parents are making a decision about homeschooling. There are out-of-pocket expenses that homeschooling parents must pay including books, supplies, homeschool cover tuition, field trips, co-op classes, and such. Expenses can add up quickly, but there are ways to cut costs as well. Sometimes cutting costs is worth the hassle, sometimes it’s not. Here is a realistic look from our family’s perspective about how much homeschooling costs:

Tuition: Wait a minute… if you’re homeschooling, why do you pay tuition? Laws governing the education of children vary from state to state. In Alabama, in order to satisfy state law, each child between the ages of 7-17 must be enrolled in school. Therefore, we pay tuition to a cover school, which collects our attendance, grades, and in addition provides many services and opportunities to homeschool families. While we can choose whether to participate in many of the educational and community activities our school provides, we are required to at least pay tuition, which is $35 per month for 10 months, with a $50 registration fee per year. Total yearly cost: $400

Books and Supplies: This is where things get murky. If I were to purchase new books from the publishers for each subject and each child, I could easily spend several thousand dollars. I do my best to search for used books on eBay, Amazon, and in my local homeschool group before I pay full retail price for anything. I can typically find good deals on teachers’ manuals and textbooks, but workbooks and test books are a different story. As these get written in, there are very few available in used condition. Last year was our first year to have two students homeschooling, so our costs for teaching materials were almost double. While there is no way to go back and capture an exact amount, my best estimate for what I paid for last years’ books and supplies for my two daughters is $700.

Field Trips and Extracurricular Activities: We pay for it all. While our cover school offers field trips, the student’s family pays the full amount. Not all field trips we take are through our school, and those expenses, of course, are variable. When we have extra money in our budget, we spend a little more. Instead of having PE at a school, we pay for our daughters to play soccer. Instead of having a school-sponsored fine arts class, we pay for ballet, pointe, and acro lessons. Would we pay for these even if our daughters went to traditional school? We certainly wouldn’t have time to do them all, but I’m not sure where we would draw the line. I include these fees in our homeschooling costs because without them, we’d have to cover the costs of providing PE and fine arts in some other way. Total Estimated Yearly Total: $3800

Educational Website Memberships: There are several websites that I pay for because they help so much with our daughters’ education. Because I think it’s important for children to learn in a variety of ways, including books and computers, I consider these to be necessary expenses. Total for the year: $250

Co-op and Online Classes: While we believe co-op and online classes will be an invaluable part of our daughters’ high school experience, we currently do not participate in any right now. Many families with elementary and middle school children do, however. Since we do not take advantage of any of these classes, I will not include any associated costs here. However, if you are planning your homeschooling costs and would be taking online or co-op classes, please understand that these costs can be around $400-600 per year per class.

With all expenses totaled, our family pays somewhere around $5150 per year to home school our two daughters. This amount is not exact, and it fluctuates every year. Last year we spent the money to set up a separate room in our home to use as a homeschool room. Costs of desks and bookshelves: $1200. I didn’t include that expense in my total because it was a one-time purchase for us, and it certainly isn’t a necessity. It’s not cheap to homeschool, but neither is it as expensive as most of the private schools in our area.

Questions?

This post is part of a series by the iHomeschoolNetwork.com bloggers. To read the perspective of other bloggers, please click here.

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Comments

  1. I always think it is interesting to see what expenses are for other families! It varies from year to year of course. We budget $500 for the year currently and have 8 children. 5 are school age according to the state we live in. It’s what works for us.

    • Ashley Mills Hill says

      Wow! As I said in my post, there are definitely some variables, but I am super impressed with your budget! I can’t seem to buy books for that, much less do any kind of field trips or extra-curricular activities. Way to go!

      • I think a few things that really help our budget are:
        – Buying non-consumable and reuseable resources when possible. For example we have science books each child will be able to use. We have Life of Fred math books (no workbooks!), etc.
        – Shopping used. I begin looking for items a year or more ahead of time at used curriculum sales, online, and etc.
        – Using the library for books. I do not do this for a book we will use all year, like a history spine we read a bit at a time for 9 months, but I will consider it for other books we will only need for a few weeks.

        Field trips tend to be places that are free. We have had grandparents buy memberships to places like the zoo or science center some years. We don’t do extra-curriculars much, if at all. It’s just not an option in our budget. We don’t have tuition for a cover school in Ohio, which is nice. We have found some great deals for online and in person classes sometimes. For example last night my oldest did a free class on the Hobbit online with Center for Lit (they offer free classes in the summer). We bought credits from Landry Academy this year for in-person intensives or online classes ($62 each). The hitch? They aren’t good until 2015-2016. If we waited to buy the classes until that year each class would be $300+.

        I say if you have the money, great! If you don’t, just get creative! Our children are all blessed because they have parents invested in their education, right?

  2. The cost breakdown for my 4th grader
    Math Mammoth Grade 4 full set:$42.50
    Learning Language Arts Through Literature Orange Book:$49.00
    Apologia Exploring Creation with Astronomy:$39.00
    The Mystery of History Volume 1: $42.95
    For a grand total of $169.45 which will be about $200 when you add in supplies.

  3. I am planning on homeschooling my children but now my oldest is 3. I think the biggest cost which many people do not account for is what it cost me to stay home. I am a nurse and I currently work about 6 days a month but my net salary (after taxes, tithes, babysitting) is close to $22,000. When we start homeschooling I think I will have to give up my career completely to focus on the kids. That means for me homeschooling will be VERY expensive. Fortunately my husband and I are both committed to doing whatever is best for our children despite the cost 🙂

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