Many people have told me that it’s too expensive to homeschool! You guys know how much I love saving money, so I wanted to tell you all the ways that homeschooling is actually CHEAPER than public school! There’s a lot of math in this post, so let’s have some fun breaking down the costs! I think you’ll be surprised at some of the numbers!
Yes, curriculum can be expensive if you choose to go that way. But there are hundreds or thousands of free resources online (too many for me to count). So you don’t have to spend any money unless you want to.
Here are some of my favorite resources for free homeschooling:
- Easy Peasy All-in-one-Homeschool
- The FREE list from Only Passionate Curiosity
- Free curriculum from Homeschool.com
- Your local library — check out books on just about every subject, and you can have a complete, well-rounded curriculum just from library books.
- Pinterest – millions of choices for awesome unit studies, free printables, and more!
- Google – do a search for anything you want to study along with “free printable” or “worksheet”, and you’ll find what you needed in seconds.
- YouTube – millions of videos to show you how things are made, teach you about history, take you on virtual tours of places… YouTube videos cover virtually every subject known to man!
There are many, many others: this is just a small sampling. But you can see that you can cover any subject, for any grade, for no cost – if you wanted to.
Homeschool cost: $0; Public school cost: $76
I did some research to find out how much the average American spends on back-to-school clothes, and got many different numbers ranging from $179-$285 per student. Multiply that by how many children you have, and that is a LOT of money. When you have school at home, there just isn’t the need for a wardrobe like that. Kids won’t get teased for wearing the same outfit twice in a week, or wearing the same jeans more than once. You can even have school in your pajamas if you want to! I spend about $50 a year on clothes for ALL FOUR of my children combined. If they were in regular schools, I know that would not be a reasonable expectation.
Homeschool cost: $13; Public school cost: $200
3. School Supplies
Along the same lines of clothes, there is a lot we don’t need to buy pertaining to school supplies. In public schools, parents spend an average of $100 per student per year. In addition to the fact that you need to buy new items each year, you also have to outfit the classroom with general purpose items like dry erase markers, tissues, antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizer, and more. In our homeschool, we don’t have to buy any of those items (okay, well I do buy tissues, but we are almost never sick, so a 59¢ box lasts 6 months or more). The school supplies we DO buy, like paper, glue, pencils, crayons, etc. – last several years and all 4 students share. I pick up supplies when they go on clearance in September, and I spend probably $8 a year for all of my kids.
Homeschool cost: $2; Public school cost: $100
The average school lunch costs $2.08. Multiply that by 180 days of school, and you get $374 per year per student. For my 4 kids, that would be about $1,500 a year! I’ve shared about our low-cost grocery plan, and we spend about $25 a month on lunch for all six of us. That’s less than a $1/day to feed six people lunch, as opposed to paying $8.32 a day just for the kids.
Homeschool cost: $30; Public school cost: $374
5. Snacks and Parties
And then there are the snacks. I have several friends with kids in public schools, and they share that they are “required” (i.e. = requested but made to feel guilty if refused) to provide snacks for their children’s classes once or twice a month. If you have to provide a snack for 30 children once a month for 4 kids’ classes, that’s a lot of money — especially since the teacher asks that the snacks be store-bought, pre-packaged snacks that cost more. Figure $15 per month per student for class snacks.
Then there are school parties, where parents are requested to bring a snack or dish for the class to share. You can add another $30 a year per student for this cost.
Homeschool cost: $0; Public school cost: $165
School fundraisers are a way of life. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to spend my time doing is hawking goods for my kids to help them earn some junk I will throw away in a few months anyway. The fundraisers are terrible for children, because it forces them into a competition, which feels more like a popularity contest. One friend of mine even shared that kids who didn’t sell enough had to sit in the classroom and read while the other kids went to a pizza-and-movie party. That’s just wrong to exclude children that way!
As for the financial part of it, parents spend an average of 13 hours selling on behalf of their children, and they personally spend an average of $49 (for the school to receive less than 50% of sales), for an average of 2 fundraisers per year.
The things that schools are raising money for are expenses that we just don’t need to cover in our homeschools.
Homeschool cost: $0; Public school cost: $98
The average American household is 3.6 miles from their child’s elementary school, and 6 miles from the high school. (source) Let’s use an average of the two (4.8) for our math here. Most children today are driven to school, as opposed to riding the bus or walking. So that means parents are driving 19.2 miles per day driving their children to and from school. Today’s national gas price average is $2.80, and the average family vehicle gets 17 mpg in the city. Multiply that by 180 days of school, and your cost is $569.22 per year to drive your children to school.
Homeschool cost: $0; Public school cost: $569
You might think, “What does vacation have to do with homeschooling?” When we homeschool, we choose our own schedules. So we can take our family vacation in February or September, when off-season prices make things cheaper and easier. Imagine: half-price hotel rooms, no long lines, no waiting times at restaurants, just a nice, relaxing trip!
The average American family spends $1,145 per person on their annual vacation. It’s common to save 40-60% by traveling in the off-season, taking your price per person down to $572.50. That’s huge savings!
Homeschool cost: $573; Public school cost: $1,145
Colleges are expensive, and having a leg up on the competition is key to getting accepted and getting scholarship money. You might not know that colleges are accepting homeschoolers at a higher rate than traditionally schooled students, because they are more qualified and more well-rounded than their public-school peers. Homeschooled students also typically graduate high school with more college credits under their belts, saving even more there. Homeschooled students enter college with 8.7 more credits than public schooled students (14.7 vs. 6.0). With average cost per credit hour at universities being $400, that’s a savings of $3,480!
Homeschool savings: $5,880; Public school savings: $2,400; not including unknown amounts for increased scholarships for homeschooled students
10. Priceless Growth
The amount of quality family time, sibling bonds, personal growth, educational experience, and fostering independent learning is priceless. Even if homeschooling costs were ten times that of public school — which I have proven here is not the case — I would still do it. Homeschooling is worth it.
Totals Per Student Per Year:
(not including college savings)
Homeschool Cost: $618
Public School Cost: $2,727
Savings per student: $2,109
If you multiply this by my 4 children, I am saving $8,436 PER YEAR for choosing to homeschool them! That’s $109,668 over twelve years of school!
I’d love to hear from other parents! Are there any public school costs that I missed on the list? Are there any other ways your family saves money by choosing to homeschool?