School costs for children are one of the most significant expenses for many families.
Elementary school, in general, includes kindergarten to fifth-grade students.
Some elementary schools cover kindergarten to eighth grade.
Choosing a private or public school is difficult for parents.
Both have their costs, but, in fact, which one is bigger?
Private School Costs
Private schools don’t receive any funding from the government.
That’s why they have to charge tuition.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in 2015 in the USA, approximately 11% of schoolchildren are enrolled in private schools.
The average cost of tuition at a private school is $12,350 per child, according to EducationData.org.
In addition, parents have additional costs for books, technology, field trips, school uniform, etc.
The total amount would be $16,050 per year.
According to U.S. Census Bureau, in 2019, a middle-income family would have to spend about 23% of their salary per child, and 46% for two children in a private school.
Prices largely depend on where you live.
In Massachusetts, the average cost of tuition at a private school is $24,000 a year – about 27% of the average state household income.
In Nebraska, it’s only $2,800, less than 4% of average income.
The type of private school also affects the price.
As an example, take the average tuition cost for a private day school – $16,000 per year.
Five-day boarding schools cost more than twice as much at $33,140.
And seven-day boarding schools cost a whopping $37,590 per year.
Also, religious affiliation plays a big role.
Catholic schools are usually much cheaper than other private schools, costing only $4,840 for elementary school.
For example, a family with an average income would pay only 7% of their income to send a child to a Catholic elementary school, but more than 50% for a seven-day boarding school.
Public School Costs
Public schools are funded through federal, state, and local government sources.
Also, many of them apply some additional fees.
The largest number of children in the USA are enrolled in public schools.
According to the NCES, in 2016., 94% of all students were enrolled in public schools.
Because they receive funding from local property taxes, the best schools are usually in the most expensive areas.
Such schools spend more on the best teachers, technology, and students from those schools do better on tests.
Parents bear the cost of accessories and equipment.
This can include a home computer, uniform, musical instruments, and the like.
Half-day kindergarten (approximately 3 hours) is free.
But, some public schools charge tuition for full-day kindergarten (duration of six hours, matching the first- to fifth-grade schedule) with an annual fee of $1,000- $5,000.
The most important cost of sending children to a public school is property taxes paid to support the school system, which is also paid by parents of children from private schools, as well as persons without children.
In order to determine the price of a good public school, it is necessary to compare the costs of neighborhoods associated with that school with the costs of nearby neighborhoods in other school districts.
A great start is Niche, a website that evaluates and compares school facilities in the USA based on test results, health ratings, reviews, and the like.
Each year, it throws out 10 school districts that it rates the best in America.
For 2021, the top school district on the list is the Adlai E. Stevenson High School District No. 125 in Lincolnshire, Illinois.
According to Trulia, the average home value in that area is $513,369.
With a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 2.89%, that works out to about $2,115 per month.
In nearby Buffalo Grove, Trulia says the typical home value is only $339,497, or $1,420 per month.
That’s a difference of $8,340 per year.
The NCES puts the average cost of private school tuition in Illinois at only $6,860, so for a family with one child, a private school is cheaper than a top-notch public school.
Things are changing for a family with two children.
Living in Lincolnshire would cost just $8,340 extra per year, while a private school for two children would cost $13,720.
This makes a private school 65% more expensive.
Additional costs can range from $300 to $800 in a private school and from $100 to $500 in a public school.
- School uniform: $25 – $200 per outfit, $100-$500 if includes specifics items,
- Lunch: $2.08 – $3.42. Can be free or reduced-price of 40 cents for low-income students.
- Annual bus pass: $100-$325. Bus service is usually free for the low-income students at some public schools.