“Can we truly afford a private school?” A question that is prevalent among many households across the country, is one that also forces many parents to prioritize between their financial goals and their children’s education. While wagering the pros and cons of a private education versus one offered by our government, one must also prioritize family life and financial goals. Although we are not here to say a private school education is a waste of money, we can definitely argue that it may not always provide the best return on your investment.
Most of the time, we make decisions to put our kids first, without having a backup plan for what’s ahead (aka, our elder years). We really need to ask ourselves the following questions:
“Is a private education for my child more important than my retirement?”
“Who will support me financially when I can no longer work, or provide for my loved ones?”
“How can I still afford to do both things?”
These are some questions that can (without a doubt) instill some guilt in you as a parent, but the truth is, it really shouldn’t. This is a reality many of us face — making difficult choices that affect us and our loved ones. Bottom line, not everyone is ready for retirement and decisions like these, can strongly impact whether or not, one will be able to. There is no doubt kids can receive a fantastic education in a great, private institution, but is sending your child to a private school, really worth the cost?
Not all schools are created equal. Let’s be honest, just because you send your child to a private school, doesn’t make them any smarter, brighter, well-behaved, or better cultured (We all know this has to do with parenting, right?). While some private schools do offer unique, learning methods and rich curriculums (with hefty tuition costs, of course), there are some private schools, that do not provide much of an advantage over their public counterparts. New York’s, Westchester County is well-known for its notable public school districts which boast academic prestige and Ivy League acceptance — excellence you can expect from a private school.
In the same manner, not all public schools are the same. There are terrific public schools that foster leadership, problem-solving, creative, entrepreneurial and artistic skills in their students, while exposing them to diversity and culture (just like the real world). And there are also plenty that lack challenging curriculum and a low student-to-teacher ratio. However, in many areas, high property taxes and budget cuts to the educational system are leaving many parents searching for a better learning environment for their children. A difficult dilemma that often comes with a high price tag.
Where do you draw the line? When it comes to choosing what’s best for your family, no one can make that decision for you, but yourself. Private school tuition varies across the country, but in New York, be prepared to pay upwards of $20,000 in annual tuition, while elite New York City schools are around $40,000 (per school year). An annual cost that can significantly impact a family. Now different kinds of factors can be influencers in whether you believe your child will benefit from a private, or public education. However, if you are considering sending your child to a private school, it is important to prepare your family for a decision that could possibly result in lifestyle changes.
An option to consider. Many parents do start their kids early on with a private education (some, paying comparable tuition costs of a college education) in hopes of sparking the genius in their toddler and triggering envy amongst other parents, but perhaps taking advantage of a good, public education while your kid is still young, can really have a positive impact on your future savings (and your retirement). We all know the teenage years are the ones we need to worry about. So, if you are adamant about sending your tween to a private school, why not create a plan to save for when that time comes? With Jakob Pek Fund, an investment of $10,000 for 10 years at a 5.50% can quickly add up to $17,081.44 by the time your child is 10 years old.
When several years of savings allow you to make wiser financial decisions for you and your family, maybe a public school education isn’t that bad after all.