If you’re considering home education, chances are you’re looking closely at how you can afford to homeschool your children on a single income. What exactly are the costs of homeschooling and where can you get resources at a great price (or free) so you can make it affordable. Sadly, some people believe home education is too expensive for the average family. But, I’m going to show you just how inexpensive it can be!
In this article, we’ll cover the following topics:
- How to afford home education on a single income
- The price for one year
- How to lower costings by using online resources and printables and
- Coalitions and how they can help you reduce your costs
Let’s jump straight in and have a look.
How to Afford Homeschooling on a Single Income
Unless the main breadwinner in your family is on a good income, you’ll probably find yourself making choices that involve a considerable sacrifice in order for you to make homeschooling affordable.
Some of these sacrifices involve giving up things you value tremendously such as:
- giving up one income,
- selling one of your cars and sharing the remaining one to save on registration, car maintenance and any other expenses this luxury comes with
- selling a house, and moving into a cheaper house with cheaper mortgage repayments,
- telling your friends you can’t eat out because the budget isn’t there for it,
- giving up fancy holidays and becoming familiar with caravan parks,
- eating peanut butter and honey sandwiches for lunch with baked beans for dinner,
- going flexitarian, vegetarian or vegan to save on the cost of meat,
- foregoing expensive holidays for fewer vacations or less expensive options,
- and (perhaps the hardest for some of us) reducing our coffee budget!
Depending on what the main breadwinner earns, you can see the cost of home educating is high and requires many sacrifices. At this point, it might be useful to read all the reasons to homeschool in order to assure yourself that it’s going to be worth it (and it is!).
Is Homeschooling Too Expensive?
Some believe the cost of homeschooling is too high. Most families, after all, pay government taxes and, therefore, many parents think they should send their children to public schools so they don’t have to pay for their children’s education twice.
While home education costs will never be cheaper than public school, consider the point that the education your children will get at home will likely be vastly superior to that of a public school. (There are also a plethora of other advantages that come when you choose the former option.)
With a little frugal penny-minding, home education is definitely affordable. You can do many things to cut your costs like opting for a free curriculum or hunting down inexpensive resources. Essentially, home education is as expensive as you want to make it.
For example, you can make homeschooling more affordable by choosing a free curriculum, like Easy Peasy. If you’re on a tight budget, you really don’t need a paid curriculum like Abeka or BJU (although, if you have wads of money lying around, I’d definitely choose a paid curriculum).
The advantage of homeschooling is parents can buy, borrow or rent books from different sources such as friends or libraries, depending on their budget. These books can be reusable with subsequent children. (My parents bought us our own Abeka workbooks but kept the same teachers manual for use with all three children).
Homeschooling Cost for One Year
Vickey Bentley says the cost of homeschooling for a family of three can be less than $2,275 USD (or 758 per student a year on average):
- Sample for three children in a satellite program with some teacher support (K, 2nd, and 8th):
- Curriculum – $1,370
- Annual testing – $0 (included in program, $75 value)
- Professional memberships – $175
- Home library – $100
- Annual convention (parents) – $100 (commute)
- School supplies – $150
- Art lessons (1 mo, oldest) and softball – $80
- Miscellaneous – $300
Time4Learning assessed expenses as similar to Vicky Bentley:
The average cost of home educating one child per year might fall within the following ranges.
- Curriculum: $350-750
- Materials: $150-300
- Field Trips: $100-$250
- Extracurriculars: $100-$500
Approximate total cost per year per student: $700-$1800
An Everyday Story budgets an incredible $400/ a month:
Your homeschool budget is going to depend on your variable expenses and your disposable income. We have budgeted $400/month for materials, memberships and extra-curricular classes. Approximately half of this is paid upfront (swimming lessons, memberships, that sort of thing) leaving $200/mth or $50/week cash which I spend on materials and excursions. This includes all materials; from pens and paper through to more expensive items.
If you’re a little intimidated and you’re thinking ‘How can I afford this option if I don’t have $400 a month?’, don’t worry because you don’t need that much. One of the comments on this blog explained this saying,
‘Wow! I can’t imagine having the luxury of a $400 a month budget! We probably don’t spend that much in a year. It is, of course, much less expensive to homeschool elementary children than teens, but there are so many ways to keep costs low while still offering kids an excellent education.’
What is the Cost of Homeschooling for One Year?
So, the cost of homeschooling for one year averages out to be around $2,000 a student per year. But, you can significantly reduce these costs by reusing old books and bypassing optional lessons, like horse riding.
Lower Your Expenses by Using Online Resources and Printables
Free, online resources are plentiful. eBooks, free curricula printable worksheets are everywhere and readily available for homeschooling parents. Two good options are An Old Fashioned Education and Freedom Homeschooling. (The latter specifically marks out Christian resources for parents who want to use Christian materials.)
These days you can find many books that are free because they’re past patent protection. This means that they’re available for no cost online to be downloaded from different sources such as the public domain.
There are also many educational games online for free such as typing or reading programs (easily discovered upon googling). For those who might need a complicated Algebraic equation explained, there are great video options like Youtube or the Khan Academy.
Saving Money With Homeschool Coalitions?
To reduce the cost of home educating, families can volunteer their time in homeschool coalitions. These coalitions can be either a group of home educating families that pool their resources to get more bang for their buck OR an organization that takes a fee to provide good quality subjects for homeschoolers.
For coalitions that consist of groups of families: These families might pool their resources to reduce the cost of homeschooling and hire a tutor to teach their children a subject, like languages. Alternatively, one parent might teach the children their specialty. If a parent is an artist, they might take art lessons; if another parent is a scientist, they could take science and so on.
For large coalition organizations: these options aren’t always as cost-effective as the family-led coalitions, although they may be considerably more organized. For example, if you study with Classical Conversations, you’ll get an amazing classical education, but it may not be a very cheap option. Quite a number of home educating families in America attend organized coalitions, although this is less common in other countries.
Happily, home education isn’t just for the wealthy. The cost of homeschooling is definitely affordable for most people if we’re willing to make the necessary sacrifices. But, is our educational choice all about the money or are we doing it because we value our children’s education more than money? It’s good to realign our thoughts by remembering the reasons we’re considering home educating in the first place. Homeschool mom, Barbara Fraser, got at the heart of the matter when she said, ‘Can you afford to send them to school and not have them grow in Christ?’