With the expense of raising children, does adding on the potential cost of homeschooling give you pause? In addition to the costs of groceries, clothing, medical care, babysitting, the expenses add up fast. If you are considering homeschooling your child, you probably have a lot of questions related to how much homeschooling costs and what the actual cost of homeschooling is. Is it something that your family can afford? How much do materials for homeschooling cost? How do homeschool costs compare to public and private schools? Are there any funds available for homeschoolers? Are there any homeschool tax credits? Let’s look at how much homeschooling costs so that you will have a good idea about how homeschooling might fit into your family budget.
How much does homeschooling cost?
Homeschool curriculum providers estimate the average cost of homeschooling to be somewhere between $700 and $1800 per child annually. But it is difficult to pinpoint exactly how much homeschooling costs because homeschooling expenses are closely tied to the choices that you as a parent makes. You get to choose how much you spend on your curriculum, extra-curricular activities, school supplies, and other resources.
What is the average cost of homeschooling per year?
My husband and I homeschool our four daughters, and next year we will have an 8th grader, a 5th grader, a 3rd grader, and a K5 student. Like many homeschooling families, our curriculum is our biggest homeschool expense. We’ve chosen to use the BJU Press online video courses for our children because we highly value BJU Press’s biblical worldview teaching and high academic standards. Plus, included features like the new Homeschool Hub save me a lot of time (and sanity!). We feel like it’s worth the investment. BJU Press offers a variety of curriculum package options, but here’s the breakdown of what our family will spend on curriculum next year:
- 8th grade Online Kit + Life of Christ Textbook Subject Kit ($113.25) $1082.25
- 5th grade Online Kit customized with Bible 5 elective $1138
- 3rd grade Online Kit customized with Bible 3 elective $1048
- K5 Online Kit customized with Bible K5 elective $718
Total Cost: $3,986.25
We will get a multi-kit discount ($50 off each kit since we are ordering more than 2), so that brings our cost down to a total of $3,786.25 for all 4 children. There are also other savings available when you purchase through a HomeWorks by Precept consultant or at a homeschool curriculum event.
I have the option of using BJU Press’s 0% interest payment plan and paying $568 down and then 9 monthly payments of $357, so I don’t have to pay the full amount up-front.
Our other homeschooling costs include memberships in the Academy of Home Education and HSLDA, school supplies (including devices for the online video content), music lessons, and some occasional fees for field trips or other extracurricular activities. Overall, it costs us between $5000 and $6000 annually to homeschool our four children.
Costs of homeschooling
1. Categories of Homeschool Cost
Homeschool expenses often fall into the following categories:
- Membership Fees (co-ops, HSLDA, record-keeping & transcript services, etc.)
- School Supplies (basics such as crayons and glue sticks as well as equipment such as computers and headphones)
- Extracurricular Activities (music lessons, gymnastics class, soccer leagues, etc.)
2. The homeschool curriculum
How much does a homeschool curriculum cost?
Your homeschool curriculum will likely be your largest homeschool expense. HSLDA estimates that on average, parents spend $300-$600 per year per child on homeschool curriculum. Although it is possible to create your own curriculum, most homeschool moms don’t have the necessary skills or time to do it well. Purchasing a homeschool curriculum will save you a lot of time and will help ensure that you are covering necessary skills.
There are a lot of homeschool curriculum options, and each has its own unique cost. When shopping for a homeschool curriculum, you will want to consider your budget along with some of these other factors:
- Does the curriculum support my worldview?
- Will I be able to meet the educational goals that I have set for my child with this curriculum?
- Will it fit my child’s learning style/needs?
- Can I use my preferred teaching style with this curriculum?
Generally, a low-cost curriculum will cost more in time. Higher-cost curriculum options will often save you time by providing more parental support.
There’s a lot to keep in mind when choosing the right homeschool curriculum for your family, so be sure to take your time as you do your research.
How much is homeschooling online?
You may have heard of free online learning programs (like K12 or Connections Academy). But those programs aren’t true homeschooling. They dictate the curriculum (the same curriculum your local public school uses) and offer much less flexibility.
Homeschooling online is one of the more expensive curriculum options, but it can save you a lot of valuable time and it allows your child to learn from experienced teachers.
BJU Press’s online homeschooling curriculum costs $969 per student ($589 if your child is in kindergarten) if you purchase the entire grade level. You can also purchase an individual subject bundle for $339. The bundle includes all the textbooks, answer keys, and tests that your child will need for the entire year and give you access to video courses designed for homeschoolers and taught by expert teachers. You also get free access to all the planning and record-keeping tools on the BJU Press Homeschool Hub online platform.
How to Cut the Costs of Homeschooling
You may not have much money to spend on homeschooling, but don’t despair. It is possible to homeschool on a very limited budget. Below are some ideas for how you can save money on homeschooling.
1. Ideas for Saving on Homeschool Costs
- Take advantage of curriculum discounts.
If you are interested in a particular homeschool curriculum, join their email list or follow their company on social media so that you can be notified of any discounts. A lot of companies run sales in the spring to incentivize ordering early. Often homeschool textbook companies will also offer special discounts at homeschool conventions. BJU Press also offers discounts during their annual Facebook party.
- Use your curriculum for multiple children if possible.
One popular way to save money on homeschooling is to teach more than one of your children the same course. This often works well for courses such as science and history if your children are close in age. If you do choose to do this, remember that it is usually better to hold an older child back than it is to try to push a younger child to learn content that he or she is not prepared for and may be frustrated with.
- Stock up on school supplies when they go on sale.
School supplies generally go on sale a few weeks before the public schools in the area start. Even if you are not following a traditional school-year calendar, stocking up on supplies during sales will save you a lot of money.
- Take a minimalistic approach to homeschooling.
Minimalistic homeschooling “means eliminating all unnecessary possessions and activities and keeping only the ones that fit your family’s values and goals.” This approach will save you a lot of money by eliminating a lot of extra expenses.
Can you homeschool for free?
It may be possible to homeschool for free, but that may depend on relying on a free homeschool curriculum—which may not be up-to-date or maintained—or putting together your own curriculum, which could take a very long time. Most homeschoolers choose to save time and purchase a curriculum.
Can you get paid to homeschool your child?
No, currently there are not any state (or the federal government) programs that will pay for you to homeschool your child.
Homeschool funds for parents
If you are homeschooling and are struggling financially, you can apply for a grant through the HSLDA Compassion fund. HSLDA currently offers grants to individuals suffering loss from natural disasters or individuals who are struggling to pay for curriculum because of significant financial need.
Can you claim homeschool expenses on taxes?
There are no specific tax breaks or deductions you can claim on your federal return for homeschool expenses. However, if you live in Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, or Iowa, you may be eligible for a state tax break.
Do you have to pay school taxes if you homeschool?
Yes, in all 50 states homeschoolers are still required to pay state and local taxes that help fund public schools.
Is homeschooling more expensive than public school?
Public schools are free, but they come with their own costs, too. Parents still must pay for school supplies and some extra-curricular activities; parents may also be expected to participate and donate to fund raising endeavors, depending on the state or school. Still, homeschooling your children will probably be more expensive than sending them to a public school.
If you are considering transitioning your child out of the public school, the shift and cost and the legal requirements are some things you’re going to want to be aware of.
Is homeschooling more expensive than private school?
It’s doubtful that homeschooling your children will be more expensive than sending them to a private school. The average cost of private school tuition for an elementary student is $12,350 and can be higher for high school students. Plus, many private schools require special uniforms and some even charge additional fees for books.
Is homeschooling worth the investment?
If you choose to homeschool, you choose to make an investment of both time and money into the lives of your children. But most homeschoolers would say that homeschooling is definitely worth the investment. Many students excel academically in the homeschool environment where instruction can be tailored to suit their learning needs. But most importantly, homeschooling often results in close family relationships and shared values—things that you could never attach a price tag to.