How to Make Homeschooling More Affordable

With the nationwide rise of homeschooling, comes an increase in educational costs. Or so we think. While homeschooling seems to cost more money, it really costs less than the national average to send your child to public school. According to the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), it costs an average of $11,732 in taxpayer dollars to send a child to the public school system. Whereas, it only costs an average of $600 annually per each homeschooled child. That is a whole lot less money! But, even that can seem expensive when it is coming out of your own pocket. So we have some great tips to help make homeschooling even more affordable.

Basic Costs

Since we don’t normally think about how much we spend in tax dollars to send our kids to school, switching to homeschooling can have an initial sticker shock. But, if we realize exactly how much we are saving by homeschooling our children, that should help the initial shock.

With this knowledge, let’s talk about what the basic costs to homeschool are right out of the gate.

This will actually depend on quite a few factors, including:

  • Which state you live in and the homeschooling rules and laws
  • The age of your child (elementary, middle or high school)
  • How you plan to homeschool

Since I started homeschooling my 14-year-old this year, for his first year of high school, I can relate my costs to you. As well as some of the costs I have heard of from other families of different ages.

Testing

In North Carolina, one of the only requirements is that the child must take a standardized test every year to show progress. These all cost money, but they don’t have to cost a ton.

We decided upon the CAT (California Achievement Test) for his standardized test. This one is traditionally given to high schooler’s, but can be given to middle schoolers also. The test normally costs $25 per test. And you only have to test once a year.

But, they run specials a couple times a year for $10 off, so that is when I have been purchasing them. You can purchase as many as you like, and you specify the grade level you are planning to have them test at. So, I purchased 3 of these at the lower cost, for a grand total of $45.

I bought 2 at the 9th-grade level and 1 at the 10th-grade level. This is because I wanted to test him at the beginning of the school year to see where he was starting. The other two are for the end of each school year to see where he has progressed to. If you are just starting your child out in the homeschooling realm, I highly suggest this. Otherwise, you don’t really have an accurate barometer as to where they began to show progress.

There are plenty of other standardized tests, and most of them also run specials. So keep an eye out for that.

Just note that you can certainly have your child tested at a testing center near you, but that will ALWAYS cost you more money. These standardized tests are the same ones they give in the public school system, via computer, and you don’t have to take your child anywhere to take the test.
Homeschooling can be much more cost-effective than putting your child in public school. Click To Tweet

Age-Related Costs

Most homeschooled children are of the elementary school age. This can be for a myriad of different reasons, but some of the most common include:

  • Individualize curriculum
  • Accomplish more academically
  • More parent/child bonding time
  • Provides better social interactions with children and adults
  • Safer environment than in public schools
  • Impart a specific set of beliefs, religious or otherwise

Due to these reasons, the majority of homeschool students start out being homeschooled. Quite a few of them will, at some point, join the public school system. Even if it is just for a taste to see if they like it, or to compare and contrast.

We are, obviously, different than the norm. But that seems to always be the case with us, so why should this be any different!

My son has been asking me to homeschool him since he was going into 6th grade. I held him off through middle school but acquiesced this year.

For a high school homeschool student, the costs can sometimes be more expensive than with the younger homeschooled children. This is due to the increased cost of needing electronic devices, more in-depth training and more expensive social gatherings.

But, sharing a device at home or using a library computer is one way to cut these costs. Another way to do this cost-effectively is to give your middle or high school homeschooler your old device and get a new one for yourself instead. This is what we did. And since I use my computer for business, the new computer was purchased through my LLC, for me to use, and then helps reduce my company’s taxable income for the year.

I am always looking for tax hacks (LEGAL, of course!) to help reduce my taxable income, so this is a great one if you own a business.

For an elementary school child, there are a plethora of FREE options. A lot of these are offered through the city, or even through local homeschool groups. Definitely, take advantage of these if you find any offerings near you for your homeschool aged child.

Homeschooling Method

Whichever homeschooling method you decide on will also have an impact on how much you ultimately spend. There are typically 7 different methods you can choose from, when homeschooling. They are:

  • Classical
  • Charlotte Mason
  • Montessori
  • Unschooling
  • School-at-Home
  • Unit Studies
  • Eclectic

Some of these methods are much stricter and require more materials than others. So if you align more with the Unit Studies, Classical, School-at-Home, Montessori or Charlotte Mason methods, you will end up spending more money on materials.

These could be books, journals, tests, educational materials, etc. But, if you align more with the Unschooling or Eclectic homeschooling methods, you will most likely spend much less.

This is due to the fact that these two methods are pretty free range and don’t require a lot of, or any, prescripted materials. You get to piecemeal teaching exercises together through whichever resources work best for you and your child.

This is what we have ended up doing, since both of these methods work best with self-starters or those with an entrepreneurial spirit. I come from a family of entrepreneurs, and both of my biological children seem to be following in my footsteps. So, combining the Unschooling and Eclectic methods have worked really well for us. And by doing this this way, we haven’t had to spend any money on anything other than the aforementioned computer and CAT tests.

I use plenty of free resources, such as:

  • Khan Academy – for math and some science
  • History Museum – this is where I took pictures of all of their WWI posters and created projects for my son for the whole year
  • Family – my father is a retired engineer and is teaching my son electrical engineering (for FREE!)
  • EdX – these are free classes offered by a few prestigious universities around the country
  • My old college work – I have a lot of my college work saved, so I have pulled quite a bit of information from my old work (technically I paid for it, but it was a long time ago, so I am not counting it for these purposes)

Takeaway

Overall, when it comes to homeschooling there are so many different ways to do it. The biggest perk of homeschooling is that you can cater it towards what works for both yourself and your child. And it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.

There are a ton of free resources for homeschoolers out there, including museum discounts, so take advantage of them. If you are homeschooling an older child, you may have to get a bit more creative, but that’s the fun part!

If you have homeschooled a child, what are some of the best ways you have found to make it more affordable?