Knowing how much it costs to homeschool is critical information families need to make decisions, but it’s not that easy to figure out! There are so many different options and methods that it can be confusing (and overwhelming) to determine the financial impact on home budgets. I’m sharing everything I learned in the research process below to help others planning for homeschool costs.
According to the HomeSchool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) an estimated expense for an individual student is $758 a year for curriculum, books, and supplies. This estimate does not include extracurricular activities or miscellaneous expenses.
Although the HSLDA provides this amount as an average yearly cost, homeschooling expenses are very much on a sliding scale for families depending on curriculum and resource choices. There are many factors to consider to analyze these costs.
The costs described below are material and resource based. They do not take into account extracurricular activities such as sports or music lessons or the loss of an income if a parent leaves his or her job to homeschool.
Homeschool Curriculum Costs
$599 – $1085/year for all in one homeschool curriculum kits by mail
$30- $162/year for homeschool digital download only curriculum kits
Undoubtedly one of the largest expenses for homeschool is the main resources and materials being used to provide instruction. Curriculum costs vary greatly depending on delivery format and features.
An all in one curriculum kit that is purchased and delivered by mail to your home in the format of teacher guides, workbooks, books and other materials generally falls in the range of $297-$1085 per student.
The costs vary among grade levels and type of materials included. Some may have DVD’s, tests and electives included, while others may have add-on costs for those materials. Some may have the books for literature units while others require those to be purchased separately (or borrowed from the library).
Below are five common (religious based) all in one curriculums and the costs for their multi-subject kits and guides at the time of research.
|Curriculum||Cost per student|
|Abeka||$734 – $1085|
|Alpha & Omega Lifepac||$297 – $391|
|Bob Jones||$599 (K) – $899 (12th)|
|Memoria Press||$320 (K) – $995 (10th)|
|Sonlight||$686 (K) – $1061 (12th)|
Below are five common (secular or eclectic) curriculums. Some of the curriculums include multi-subject areas but are available in digital download format only. You would have to consider the cost of ink to print from home or costs to have the materials printed and bound by a company.
|Curriculum||Cost per student|
|Bookshark||$885 – $908|
|Blossom and Root (K-2, Digital only)||$114 – $162|
|Build Your Library (K-12, Digital only)||$39 – $59|
|Moving Beyond the Page||$668 – $983|
|Torchlight (K-3, Digital only)||$30 – $45|
These curriculum options are for families who want printed materials, workbooks and worksheets that students can write in. They typically come with some other helpful resources such as grading reports, checkpoint assessments and detailed parent guides. The benefit of all in one kits is having a resource for every subject and being able to introduce mapped out content according to the teacher guides.
Many curriculum providers offer a sample in digital format or one can be requested through their websites for a minimal cost. This is a good idea because many homeschooling parents have regretted purchasing a kit to find that the materials were not a good fit for their child’s learning style. It’s also good to know which sources come with digital components and which do not.
What about less expensive or free curriculum options? I include those options in this article about free homeschool resources.
Homeschool Supply Costs
$100 – $300/year
What about supply costs for homeschoolers? A typical price range for consumables in addition to the curriculum averages $100-300 per year.
The higher price range would include things like copy paper and ink if lessons require printing worksheets.
For reference, we do a lot of printing and our yearly costs for paper and ink is $125. We did a lot of research on a printer because our previous one frequently ran out of ink and the new printer turned out to be a much better return on investment. Ink could be a bigger expense depending on the type of printer you have.
The $100-$300 price range assumes your child already has an electronic device. If your child will need a laptop or desktop computer, that would be an additional big expense to consider. An affordable and durable option for most students is a Chromebook.
Other common consumable supply costs include:
- Notebook paper
- Pencils & pens
- Colored pencils, crayons and/or markers
- Glue & scissors
- Composition journals/spiral notebooks
- Index cards
- Earbuds, headphones
I include many ways to reduce homeschool supplies costs in this article.
Homeschool Professional Membership Costs
$25 – $75/year (excluding conferences)
A local co-op of homeschool families could provide a wealth of information and resources. It could also be a way to meet up locally with other families.
There are usually annual fees ranging from $25-$50 associated with joining co-ops or professional memberships to other homeschool organizations.
At the time of writing, the cost of membership to the National Home School Association is $39/year. They outline the membership benefits, such as access to ebooks and newsletters, on their website.
You may also want to attend a homeschool conference and that could be expensive if travel and lodging is required. The one that we attend requires a $65 registration fee but it is within driving distance so we do not have to pay for lodging.
Homeschool Supplemental Costs
$100 – $500/year
Field trips– There are many virtual field trips and free field trip activities available to homeschoolers, but families may want to participate in some events that require admission and/or parking fees.
Some common popular homeschool field trips that may require admission and/or parking fees include:
- Business/Government Tours
- Nature Centers
- Historical Sites
- Sporting Events
- Community Festivals
Hobbies- In addition to field trips, there may be supplemental costs for a child to pursue a hobby or creative outlet as part of their learning experience. Things like LEGOS, arts and crafts, board games, marble runs, puzzles and interests your child may have are a great way to supplement the daily curriculum but they are an added expense. (Personally, we have minimal expenses in this category because these are typically birthday and Christmas gifts.)
Subscriptions- Supplemental costs would also include monthly subscriptions. If you use computer software that requires a monthly subscription, or use subscription boxes for learning activities, this could easily add up to (and exceed) $500/year for supplemental costs.
Tutors– If your child needs extra support in one particular area where he or she is not progressing as you feel they should, then you may hire or consult with a tutor or subject area specialist. This could cost anywhere from $25/hour for a high school or college student tutor or up to $100/hour depending on the person’s level of experience and certification.
Books– If your curriculum kit did not include books in the kit and you cannot find a particular book in the library, those would need to be purchased as supplemental materials.
In conclusion, the charts below calculates an average of curriculum, supplies, professional memberships and supplemental costs.
Scenario 1- Yearly Average Costs with All in One Curriculum Kit
|Curriculum- All in one curriculum kit by mail||$842|
Scenario 2- Yearly Average Costs with Digital Download Curriculum Kit
|Curriculum- All in one curriculum kit by digital download||$96|
What is the cost of homeschooling vs. public school?
Contrary to common perceptions, public school is not free. Below is a general comparison of homeschool category expenses compared to public school expenses. Public schools typically have 2-3 big fundraisers a year where students purchase tickets to festivals or sell items like candy bars or wrapping paper. In addition, they have smaller fundraisers when students purchase books from book fairs or special snacks.
Some categories overlap in both models of education.
|Curriculum Kits||Field Trips||Fundraisers|
|Miscellaneous Fees- |
Books, Lockers, Parking
|School Logo Clothing|
Can I deduct homeschooling expenses from income?
Unfortunately, I do not know of any federal options for homeschool income deductions and there are very few and limited tax-deductible state deductions.
It’s best to consult with your local accountant as well as co-op for information or resources related to homeschool tax deductions.
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