A few years back, The Center on Education Policy did a study to determine whether pre-college private schools outperform public schools academically. While a number of factors came into play, the report generally concluded that private school students didn’t have much of an edge.
“Low-income students from urban public high schools generally did as well academically and on long-term indicators as their peers from private high schools, once key family background characteristics were considered,” said the study. In fact, the study concluded that private schoolers were no more likely to go on to college than public school kids.
With some private school tuitions topping the $30,000 per year mark, parents need to ask themselves whether this educational payoff — or lack thereof — is worth the price. But then, there can be reasons besides academic scores to enroll your children in a private school.
Some parents feel the local public school options aren’t a good fit for their children, according to a Fox Business interview with Richard Marotta, headmaster of the Garden School in Jackson Heights, New York. Marotta adds that parents may want their children to have more individualized attention than some public schools offer.
Ultimately, it’s up to parents to determine whether a private school deserves the investment. However, before the parents decide, they will have to conduct due diligence.
Recently in The Atlanta Journal Constitution, certified financial planner Wes Moss offered tips to help parents evaluate schools. Among them:
- Check out the site GreatSchools, which rates schools via reviews from parents and former students.
- Talk to parents with kids in local schools — particularly moms and dads who are active in the district.
- Interview teachers to help you size up potential schools.
If you do decide that your kids will be better off taking the private route, you’ll need to figure out how to fund their education. Fox Business offers these guidelines:
Plan long-term financing
A pre-college education can last as long as 14 years, so parents need to figure out how they’ll foot the bill for all those years until college comes along.
(When you do sit down to plan school financing, we here at Ally suggest you consider opening a competitive savings account, or even a CD, to help you tackle your child’s education costs — whether they be in private schools or public schools.)
Think beyond tuition
Some private schools expect that parents will contribute money to fundraising efforts and new school facilities, in addition to tuition. This may not be a requirement, but it’s still worth keeping in mind. Plus, there may be costs like uniforms, lab fees, and textbooks.
Don’t forget financial aid
Parents need to remember that financial aid isn’t just for college students. In fact, 20 to 30 percent of private school students receive aid, according to Fox Business.
How will you pay for your child’s education? Have you opened a bank account to save for tuition?