A little advice please, about getting used to the $$ of private school... - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-22-2012, 07:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Dd starts kindergarten next Sep. We just went to a school open house this past weekend and I absolutely knew it was the place for her! When I think about sending her to the local public school, I get a little knot in my stomach and am very hesitant in general of the idea, but when I visited this school... in a little red school house even :) ... I felt at ease and happy and could see how dd would fit right in and the school would be a nurturing environment for her.

 

As for the $, dh and I are just coming out of a two year period where he tried to start his own company and we were completely b-r-o-k-e. I knew of this school then, but it seemed like it was impossible to afford the extra $1,100/month it would take to send her there. Well now dh has a great new job, and I do too. We are just getting into the swing of things, and I have made a budget that seems like it would have enough to accommodate tuition. I'm just having trouble convincing dh that we will not be missing that $1,100. It seems like a lot of money to pay every month. Partially because we are both a little shell-shocked from having no money before, it is hard to imagine that we will be able to absorb this cost, even though my budget numbers seem to show that it would actually work.

 

Ok, so after the long-winded intro, can any non-incredibly-wealthy parents share thoughts on what it feels like once that tuition starts coming out... do you get used to it, does it feel like an incredible burden? The tuition schedule is 10 months of payment and 2 months without.... so we will have that "extra" money for a few months. I'm just trying to nail down the day to day logistics of paying out that much for private school. Dh and I both went to public, so we are both struggling a little with bypassing the "free" option, even though we both really like the philosophy at this school (no grades, no homework, no tests, home-like tight-knit famil feel, multiage.... my kind of place...we'd never get those options in public school)

 

I keep telling dh that if it gets too expensive, we can always switch to public later, but we should start with the option we want first! No regrets.. right?

 

 

 


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Old 01-22-2012, 08:20 PM
 
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Old 01-22-2012, 08:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Our public schools are just fine, but I was a public school teacher for three years and have formed some pretty strong opinions on what I want and don't want for my kids in school (if I can help it)... I guess I rationalize it that I am only committing to kindergarten, possibly k-2 for the moment.I was thinking I would rethink our financial situation when ds gets ready for kindy in 3 more years to see if I'm willing to pay for two kids or not. Now financially, I am not planning on paying for college, so this is kind of an "instead of" thing for me. The school does offer tuition assistance, but I'm sure we would make too much to qualify for that now. I can reduce tuition by doing work trade for the school (which relies on parents to help out a lot to keep costs down) but with my job, I don't think I'll have time. Honestly, I think the budget is there for it. I'm just trying to figure out what other parents shuffle in order to pay for school. I am currently paying 1,300/mo for childcare/prek for my kids, and if I send ds to daycare instead of a private sitter, that would make my cost around 1,800/mo next year for private school plus daycare.  Add to that cost difference that we had been paying all of our health insurance out of pocket, and now dh has insurance with his new job, and it really seems like the money is there when I've got it all down on paper. It just takes some getting used to I think? I appreciate your insights though. It helps to hear from other parents because we all have unique situations...


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Old 01-22-2012, 09:22 PM
 
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Old 01-22-2012, 09:26 PM
 
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I live in an area with good public schools and a good public charter.  However, we've decided the private Montessori school is the best fit for our family.  It was a struggle to make the decision because the other schools are considered really good.  My children went to Kindy @ Montessori, 1st grade at the charter school and now they are back at Montessori for 2nd grade.  We intend to continue through six grade when the school ends.  We cut our income in half when I got pregnant and began staying home.  Our tuition for two children is $1,100/month which is a lot to us.  Most of the families at our school are not wealthy - they make sacrifices to attend the school.  Some parents work at the school to help offset the expense.  Sometimes I have a difficult time justifying our decision since the public schools are fine and we could use that $$ for other things...it could be their college fund.  But most of the time I see the benefits of the Montessori school for my children and I know we made the right choice.  Other people, neighbors and friends, do not get it at all so I try not to get into the discussion with them. 

 

The Montessori school isn't perfect, but my children love going every day, they are excited and happy about school when I pick them up, they are thriving, and I am content and unworried while they are at school.  A complete change from the prior year at the charter. 

 

Heck...my sister, whose children attend the charter school, spends $6k/year on soccer for one of her children...and that works for them.

 

My brother paid even more than I for his two girl's tuition.  (They went to Waldorf and Quaker Friend Schools)  His girls aged out of the schools and are now in public Jr high and high school.  I asked him if he ever regretted spending all that $$ for tuition.  He didn't. 

 

I'm sure there are some people who regret spending the money for private school.  I guess when you start resenting writing the check, you know the money is not worth the benefits of the school and it is time to make a change.

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Old 01-22-2012, 09:29 PM
 
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One more thing...I put the monthly tuition aside every month; even the two summer months.  That way we have a bit of a reserve in case it is needed.  Like ChiTown Tracey, our school has a once a year fee per child (I think it is $250 but cannot remember).  However, we purchase no supplies, have no book or field trip fees, etc.

 

The other thing to keep in mind is that you have two children.  Will you be able to afford to send both of them when your second child is ready for school?  We get a discount (I think it was 10%) because we have two children in the school.

 

 

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Old 01-22-2012, 09:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much for your thoughtful insights! Yeah, I guess none of us just have 5-10k laying around in a cookie jar somewhere for fun. It's all about costs and benefits. I have a small house, dh and I share one car that's paid off... everyone has to make decisions in life on what to spend time and resources on and where to cut back (well, most of us anyway). I really think I won't know how much of a sacrifice this will be for us until we give it a try. There is a yearly fee, and some field trips cost a little money but most don't (they take a lot of field trips) and I will have summer childcare to think about. The second child is about 10% less, and there is a 5% discount if tuition is paid in full, so there are options. I've really been reading over your comments though, and I appreciate the discussion. It helps me work through my thoughts. I'm lucky in that I have 3 years between kids, so I can try dd in the school for a little while first. Even if I try it for kindergarten only, at least I won't have to wonder what it could have been like...


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Old 01-22-2012, 10:27 PM
 
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Originally Posted by tammylsmith View Post

Even if I try it for kindergarten only, at least I won't have to wonder what it could have been like...


You sound like I did two years ago!  I was actually one of the organizers of the public charter school.  I only intended to send my children to Montessori for Kindy.  But after going for one year and then trying the charter for a year, we decided Montessori was the right place for us after all.  Switching back and forth was a little difficult for my children but they are doing fine now.


 

 

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Old 01-23-2012, 06:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I guess in all of this discussion, I am really hearing my inner "gut feeling" loud and clear... I feel like I need to at least try this or I will regret it. If I know I will be able to afford it, then I need to take the next step and allow it the monetary value it really holds to me. I am going to do what you suggested and just see. If I start resenting that tuition check, or it doesn't feel worth it, then I'll have my answer! I appreciate your points of view... it helps to talk to people who have btdt before... thanks go much guys, you were all a big help!


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Old 01-23-2012, 07:36 AM
 
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DD is in her fourth year of private school and it has been worth it for us.  Like others have indicated, the public schools in our neighborhood are fine, but the big draw back for us was/is the class size.  Most of the public schools here have an average class size of 30, which was difficult for us to wrap our minds around, especially with regard to the kindergarten/elementary level.  DD's present kindergarten class has six kids total.  Her prior Montessori school also had a small student to teacher ratio.  She went to a private Montessori for three years and now she goes to a private, non-sectarian K-12 school.  Given DD's personality, etc., I think that the smaller class size is best for her and for us.

 

The cost?  Well, DH and I often joke that if it wasn't for DD's schooling, we'd be able to sell our one bedroom apartment and afford, gasp, a two-bedroom apartment!  But, during this period in our lives, DD's education trumps our personal comforts, and we're glad to make do with cramped living quarters.  At first the cost seemed a little overwhelming, but honestly, after a while it just became another bill and it is built into our budget.  I imagine we'll continue to send her there at least through to the end of elementary.  I won't give you the cost here, as costs tend to be a lot higher in my city and it wouldn't be a good measure against what other people are paying in other parts of the country.  


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Old 01-23-2012, 08:50 AM
 
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It may seem hard to send that money in at first, but after a while, it just becomes another bill... and in time, you do get used to it.  Our dd's not in Montessori, but if that is the best fit for her, you'll quickly see the returns on your money and it will confirm that you are doing the right thing.  Good luck!

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Old 01-23-2012, 02:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Lol Cats, my dh works in TriBeCa, so I can imagine... love the city but those prices... ouch! To pay tuition on top of city rent is definitely steeper than our climb, though I guess the climb is relative to everyone's situation! We have only a small "starter" 2 bedroom home, and we might just decide to stick around for awhile to save money and spend where it is important to us (education and travel). We had to spend close to 1k every month to purchase our family insurance before (again, ouch! but now we have better insurance with dh's job, yay!) so I can imagine how those big bills can be absorbed. Thanks for the input!


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Old 01-24-2012, 03:45 PM
 
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Primary is the best. Your kid will enjoy the time spent at M during those years.We pay about 5k for a full year.Another M school an hour away is more fancy,but they charge 8k to 11k. If you can afford it then go for it.My ds only got half a year of K,but he loved that time there.It was a way better experience than the local public school we had him in for the first 4 months of K.

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Old 01-25-2012, 12:03 AM
 
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We pay about $4,000 a year for Montessori. We use our tax money as it is not in our budget to pay monthly. We definitely could use that tax money for other things, but I have never regretted paying the tuition. We will switch to the public Montessori for 1st grade  because then my son will spend his first three years in the private Montessori just as my daughter is and we cannot afford to pay for both to be in private. At our public school the elementary years are less of a Montessori sacrifice than the preschool/kindergarten years so I feel okay with our decision. If we could afford it though I would not hesitate to spend the $7,000 a year for elementary for each of my children to stay at the private as the school is so wonderful. Maybe I will win the lottery in the next year lol! I don't really have any advice, just sharing my experience:)

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Old 01-25-2012, 11:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I really appreciate everyone taking the time to give their perspective. It helps so much to know how other parents make these decisions. I'm sure that most times, there are other great ways that any of us could use that money. The point, I suppose, is that I need to decide whether or not this school is a priority. I have really been thinking seriously about this. I am so fortunate now that my dh makes enough to supprt our family. We may not be wealthy, we may only have one car and a tiny house, but working is an option for me, and that is a huge blessing. I choose to work part-time, but my income can completely cover the cost of private school and daycare, and that is a huge thing. If I had chosen to stay home, we would not have that m oney and this school would be out of our reach, but with my added income, I don't see why we can't just go for it! I'm not even being altruistic here... sure my dd may be happier, but I'll be happer too with her there. I know the structure at this school supports life the way I feel like my family deserves to live it. The more I think of it, the more I really feel like that is the only option for us. I hate living with regrets, and I feel strongly pulled in this direction... I should listen to that inner voice! Thanks for the advice everyone!


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Old 01-25-2012, 01:26 PM
 
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We don't do Montessori but another private school. This year we pay $900.00 for 10 months and then 2 months off as well. We get a slight tuition discount for my second child there, not much. We've been there 3 years. Next year our tuition will go up, school increases and My DS1 will start PK there, but most of his cost will be covered by the school district because he gets services. It isn't a huge drain on us, we aren't counting pennies over it but we also do without other things that we would be doing if we didn't pay 9K a year. We only take one cheaper vacation a year, we keep putting off work on the house, and we are a family of 6 cramped into a to small house. The families that I know that do private school generally don't have it all, they have older cars, or older houses, they are very few that can swing the tuition, vacations, and newer things. We do have a long term plan. We will do PK-5th grade here and then move to a charter school that we are currently doing volunteer hours for 6-8 and and move to another charter school that the middle school one feeds into for high school. 


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Old 02-20-2012, 08:09 PM
 
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Well, as far as getting use to the money, our son went straight from daycare to private school (K4 to 6th grade).  While I'm not going to say it was not a financial struggle (because it most definitely was), I was simply use to paying out this moneyshrug.gif.  I think daycare about about $110 a week x 4 weeks = $440 a month.  The private school was much less, $335 a month. 

Unfortunately his school only went through 6th grade so I had to find another school I was comfortable with.  He now attends a Montessori Public Charter school in the next town (free, yippyjoy.gif).  And let me tell you this year has been GREAT!  We've fixed up a few things at the house, paid off my car, and have even had an actual vacation for the first time in 6 years!  Some of our scrimping is still here though...no cable TV (only netflix), no gyms or pool memberships either...want exercise, the kitchen floor needs to be swept and mopped! 

Fast forward to the 2013-14 school year...DS will be returning to private school as Montessori only goes through 8th grade greensad.gif  Now THAT will be a huge adjustment since I will be use to NOT having to pay this huge amount each month.  I am sooo not looking forward to that year

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Old 02-21-2012, 10:38 AM
 
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Jumping in here...I lurk all the education forums since I love reading about education in any form.  That is a lot of money to pay for a school....but I well understand why you, or anyone else, would do it.  I use part of my tax return money to pay for my kids homeschool curriculums for the next school year.  I consider it well worth the sacrifice to make sure that I'm doing the best I can for my kids and if I was going to have to stop, I would likely do the same as you and others--do my best to find the best fit of brick-and-mortar schooling, even if that means going without some things.  I wish all parents put as much thought into their kids' education as the parents on these forums do...whatever type of schooling they do, they do it with so much more thought then sooo many people I know.


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Old 02-21-2012, 10:50 AM
 
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Here's how we're making it work:

 

I have a dependent care account that lets me take out $5000 pre-tax and use it for daycare. This is very much worth it, as it lowers my overall tax burden (by lowering my taxable income), and obviously we spend more than $5000 a year (our childcare expenses are about $990/month). You should definitely see if either of your employers offer this kind of account.

 

We got rid of our only car. We still spend some $ on transportation (bike repair/gear, a car sharing membership, occasional cab fare), but we're saving on gas, parking, insurance & car payments & repairs, so it more than balances out. It helps that I get a free unlimited bus pass through my university job. And we're having a mild winter, so we've been able to bike far more than usual.

 

We're post-poning a lot of house projects. This is the one that worries me a bit, as we don't have much of a reserve fund these days, so we'd be in a bind if something serious came up. And we'll have quite a backlog of projects to catch up on in 2-3 years when DD moves to public school (assuming she does move to public school). But for now...we're doing OK.

 

We limit our vacations to visits to our families (in different states) once a year.

 

Our tax refund is really, really important to us.

 

Things are tight, but it is so worth it! DD is having an amazing school experience and we couldn't be happier.

 

Good luck!


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Old 02-22-2012, 02:29 PM
 
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just keep in mind that the dependent care account covers child care, which includes preschool tuition.  But once you child is in kindergarten, you can no longer use the dependent care account for tuition for kindergarten or higher.

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