The Financial Impact of Homeschooling Your Child

Family

Until recently, the decision to homeschool typically involved just the needs of parents and their children. But with the growing health crisis of COVID-19, many parents are making decisions based on health and safety, rather than educational, social, or religious needs. 

For some, the decision to homeschool your children is still a choice, but for others, school districts have decided to start the school year with full-time remote learning, which can share many of the same considerations as traditional homeschooling.

Regardless of your particular reasons, one thing is for sure: Many parents want to know what type of financial impact is expected and how they should prepare and budget for the school year ahead. The good news? About 3 to 4% of school-age children in the United States are homeschooled each year. This means we have access to a lot of expertise and advice. 

To get a better idea of how much it costs to homeschool, we looked at online surveys and information from established homeschool sites as well as input from two families: one that homeschooled two children—grades K-12, and one that decided to homeschool their children for the upcoming school year because of COVID-19. 

Common Questions From Parents

Parents have a lot of questions about how to make this all work. Some of the more common concerns about the cost of homeschooling include:

  • What type of financial impact is expected?
  • How should we budget? 
  • What happens when parents work while homeschooling?
  • How do you decide if you should stop working to dedicate time to this? 
  • Do you get tax breaks for homeschooling?

Although the answers to these questions depend on very personal situations, we found some general guidelines and average costs to help you get started. 

The Basics

To get started with homeschooling, you’ll need some necessary supplies including:

  • Curriculum and textbooks for each child 
  • Computer and other devices 
  • Internet access
  • School supplies such as pens, pencils, paper
  • Desk, chair, lamp
  • Field trips and supplemental activities

The total cost of homeschooling with the following core items will run you about $700 to $1,800 per child, according to Time4Learning

Cost of Curriculum

Choosing a curriculum will likely be the most time-consuming part of this entire process. It will also be one of the most expensive—especially if you’re not hiring a private tutor or teacher.

According to the Home School Legal Defense Association, parents spend, on average, anywhere from $50 to $500 per student on the curriculum. The cheapest approach, they say, is $50 to $100 per student, moderate is $300 to $500, and the most expensive is over $500. 

Denise Thomas, who homeschooled her two children K-12, says that although curriculum vendors offer curriculum guides and teacher manuals with all the bells and whistles, she found most of it unnecessary.

“I don’t think I purchased a teacher manual other than an answer key until my children were at the high school level,” she says.

With frugality, Thomas says a family can expect to spend $500 to $1000 per year on curriculum and materials. The high end to purchase everything a vendor offers can easily cost $300 to $500 per grade per subject! But going that route can top $5,000 per student each year. That’s a hefty price to pay for schooling. 

Books, School Supplies, and Other Expenses

Although you may not be buying boxes of tissues as part of your back-to-school shopping, you will have items you need to purchase for your child’s “classroom.”

According to a 2020 Deloitte back-to-school survey, families expect to spend, on average, the following for supplies this year:

  • Computers and hardware: $395
  • School supplies (pencils, pens, paper, etc.): $102
  • Electronic gadgets and subscriptions: $316

This cost is per child, and parents surveyed expect to have their child do some or all of their schooling at home.

Technology is a significant cost—especially if you are using an online curriculum. A ballpark range for a computer, tablet, or Chromebook is $250 to $1,000. If kids can share one device, great. If not, make sure to account for that cost, and also internet access. You may need to upgrade your service for faster connections. 

Depending on the curriculum you purchase, you may need to buy additional textbooks. Many families also keep a well-stocked library at home with fiction and non-fiction books to supplement language arts and independent reading time.

Before COVID-19, checking books out of the library was a significant money-saver. Unfortunately, many public libraries have closed their locations, and borrowing books is always not an option.

To cut costs related to books and education subscriptions, consider using free options as much as possible. Resources like Khan Academy and Varsity Tutors offer free programs. 

Loss of Income 

Homeschooling, as opposed to remote learning with the local school district’s assistance, often requires a parent to be the teacher.

If you have a two-parent household, this could mean one parent stays home and assumes this role. For some families, this means a loss of income. With that in mind, you'll need to forecast out one year without an income to see if it is possible.

If cutting one income is not possible, the parent who stays home may want to consider working part-time in the evening or the weekend. If you have expertise in a particular area and you need income, you may want to consider forming a co-op, where parents share teaching a classroom of children. Thomas says it’s reasonable to expect to pay a parent $350 or more per student for a year-long course.

Don’t count on receiving any money for homeschooling your child. Unfortunately, the federal government does not currently provide any tax credits for homeschooling.

That said, there are a few states, like Indiana, that have tax breaks designed for homeschooling. Check your state’s tax guidelines for more information.

Forming a Homeschool Pod

For Christina Cay, mother of 2 and creator of C'MON MAMA, a blog about motherhood and everything that comes with it, the decision to homeschool is something they never considered before. But in light of the current COVID-19 crisis, they chose to keep their two young children home. 

Cay says that since she has two young children, who are in no way built to sit in front of a computer for virtual learning, they opted to team up with two other families to form a homeschool "pod" so their children could have play and socialization in a safe setting.

To do this, the three families have hired two teachers to spearhead the pod, and while the cost is significant, they feel it will be very worth it.

“The financial impact for us is not small because we are paying a premium rate for our private teachers,” says Cay.

To help with budgeting, they laid out an hourly rate per child per teacher, and they will pay on the 1st and 15th of each month.

“Establishing a set pay scale and schedule helped formalize things and has certainly helped with budgeting,” she says.

The homeschool curriculum costs roughly $1,000, and that includes all complimentary materials, with the exception of basic school supplies such as markers, composition notebooks, and other necessities. 

According to several online sources, on average, parents are willing to pay weekly tuition of up to $250 per kid. Although, this can vary, with some parents paying an upwards of $1,000 per week for one-on-one daily tutoring

A Word From Verywell

Homeschooling your child does come with added expenses. With a little creativity, access to free online resources, shared supplies, and affordable curriculum, the cost of homeschooling will run you anywhere from $700 to $1,800 per child, per year.

If you are new to homeschooling and looking for ways to save money, expect to spend several hours upfront researching best practices and learning from other parents. The good news? There is an abundance of resources and families willing to help! 

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Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Home Education Research Institute. Homeschooling: The Research. Updated March 23, 2020. 

  2. Home School Legal Defense Association. Homeschooling on a Budget…or No Budget? 2019. 

  3. Deloitte. 2020 Back-To-School Survey. 2020. 

  4. EdChoice. Indiana—private school/homeschool deduction. 2020.