Every year, thousands of parents pay for private education for their children. They are not all millionaires. Many families paying for private school are middle-income families who are not capable of spending $10,000-$20,000 per child without some serious number crunching. If you have decided a private school education is the best option for your family, don't assume you can't afford it.
Here are a few tips to consider when trying to afford private school on a budget.
- Do not let fear control your thinking. Let your thoughts be filled with true, good, and beautiful things. If you have prayed diligently and feel the Lord calling you to private education, He will provide a way. Let hope rule in your heart and thoughts. James Allen in his book As a Man Thinketh says, "The soul attracts that which it secretly harbors; that which it loves and also that which it fears." If you are telling yourself you can't afford private school, make sure that is really true.
- Make a financial plan. Choose a budget that accommodates the cost of the school. This may mean you have to let go of nicer cars and expensive vacations. Use your budget to establish your priorities. How we spend communicates what we value. As you are making financial commitments throughout the year, remember the cost of education will go up every year.
- Live within your means. Look for ways to save money. Stretch your food budget by shopping sales and planning in advance. Clip coupons. Cancel subscriptions. Hang out at the library. Buy preowned items (Facebook marketplace has made this easier than ever). Consider downsizing your home. Shop for new insurance. Brown bag it to work. Even better, make your children brown bag it.
- If the budget still isn't balancing, you might want to think about a side hustle. Investigate freelance writing, blogging, or editing opportunities. Become a virtual assistant. Sell your photography. Offer daycare, babysitting, or pet sitting. Consider things you are passionate about and seek opportunities in those areas to increase your income.
- Use a 529 plan to pay for tuition. A 529 plan is an investment account designed to encourage families to save for future college expenses. Parents can invest after-tax dollars on behalf of a child for the purpose of education. Money contributed to the 529 is not tax-deductible, but any growth in the investment is tax-free. Parents can also withdraw funds to pay for K-12 private education.
- Ask family members to help. Think about asking your parents, grandparents, or other family members to help cover the cost of private school tuition. Many family members see private school as a valuable investment and are willing to contribute.
- Ask if the school offers tuition assistance. Most private schools set aside budgetary funds for tuition assistance. According to the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), for the 2015-2016 year, about 24% of students at private schools received financial aid. Many parents are unsure if they would qualify for assistance. If you are unsure, I recommend applying. The worst thing a school can do is tell you no.
A private school education is not inexpensive. It is a substantial financial sacrifice for many families, but with persistence and planning, it is achievable. Many parents believe the return on investment is well worth the cost.
If you are wondering whether it is worth it for you, check out the portrait of a Covenant Christian Academy graduate here.