piggy bank

Affording a christian education

While many parents see significant value in the education provided by private Christian schools, often they are deterred from enrolling their children by the stark reality:  Private schools are expensive; public (and charter) schools are free.  This contrast is undeniable.  In fact, it has been reported (https://www.privateschoolreview.com/tuition-stats/texas) that in Texas in the 2022-2023 academic year the average K-12 private school tuition was $10,386.  Particularly for parents with a number of school-age children and limited financial means, this cost has driven many to despair that a Christian education for their children is unattainable.  Yet I beg to differ.  I wish to lay out to these parents the hope that a Christian education for their children is affordable, therefore attainable.

At the outset of this discussion I wish to point out that one of your goals in raising your children should be to provide for them a Christian (not a secular) education.  Note that I did not say that your goal should be to enroll your children in a private Christian school.  I do not believe that in order to provide your children a Christian education you need to spend an average of $10,386 per year per child.  We need to think more broadly about what it means to educate our children, starting with what I shall call educational efficiency.

Look for Educational Efficiency

By the term educational efficiency I mean to raise the question of how many hours of instruction are needed per week to educate a child.  Although the public school system occupies a child at least thirty-five hours per week, this length of time is not necessary for education but rather for government-provided (and tax-funded) day care.  Unfortunately, most private Christian schools follow this model, occupying the student at least thirty-five hours per week.  But not being tax-funded, parents end up paying for the non-educational day care through tuition.  If pure education is our goal, this can be accomplished more efficiently.

We found this to be true with our own children.  We mostly home schooled our nine children through high school, hiring small group instructors for math, science and English during the high school years.  We found that a good instructor could cover all the necessary material in 1 ½ hours per week, and with good results—all of our children completed college degrees.

A college preparatory education can be accomplished in half or less the time consumed by a five-day school.  For over two decades Christian schools meeting only two or three days per week have demonstrated this capability.  (For more information on a University Model school, see https://www.umsi.org/about-umsi/about-the-um/).  Logos Academy intends to provide a college preparatory curriculum with the students in class only ten to twelve hours per week.  By having the students in class fewer hours, a school should be able to reduce tuition, thus making a private Christian school more affordable.  One way parents can afford a Christian education is by finding a school that enrolls students less than five days per week.

Another way for parents to afford a private Christian school is to find one that does not provide varsity sports and fine arts for all students, since if a school has these programs, you will be paying for them.  Look for a school that provides the Texas Recommended Curriculum in math, science, English and social studies only and obtain any additional classes that you may want outside of school.  As Liberty Mutual says, “Only pay for what you need.”

Look for Financial Assistance

Early in your application process to any private Christian school you should inquire of the school about tuition assistance and discounts.  Most schools recommend that you apply early for financial assistance.  You should also ask if there is any discount for early registration, for multiple children, for multiple years of attendance, for parents employed in the ministry or for financial need.  Do not hesitate to ask—you may be surprised at what opportunity you may find. 

You should also consider financial assistance from outside the school.  You may find that grandparents, other family members, friends or even your church would be interested in investing in your child’s education if they learned more of what the school offered and were given the opportunity to participate.  (For useful information on grandparents supporting their grandchildren’s Christian education, see Josh Mulvihill’s useful article, “Giving Grandchildren the Gift of a Christian Education,”  on pp. 12-14 at https://viewer.joomag.com/the-renewanation-review-2015-volume-7-issue-2/0366518001586196309?short&.)

Look at Your Financial Habits

You may also find that you have more financial resources available than you thought you had if you were to rearrange your spending habits.  Have you worked out a family budget?  To this end,   Dave Ramsey’s resources (see https://www.ramseysolutions.com/ramseyplus/financial-peace) are quite helpful.  You may also find that a monthly tuition payment plan rather than a lump sum payment is more achievable for your budget.

If you have children not yet of school age, you can take advantage of a 529 Savings Plan.  Much like a Roth IRA, such a plan allows you to make up to $10,000 per year of post tax contributions that can be used later for educational expenses.  The benefit of the Plan is that although the contributions are subject to income tax when deposited, their appreciation is not subject to income tax when withdrawn.  Beginning in 2018, many states, including Texas, have ruled that educational expenses for grades K-12 qualify for the Program.  (For further information, see https://www.savingforcollege.com/article/529-savings-plans-and-private-school-tuition#sfc-page-anchor-2.)  This may be a good way for you to save for future educational expenses.

Look into Little or No Tuition Payments

It may also be possible for you to provide for your children a Christian education while paying little or no tuition.  You may have access to a co-op school, where parents pay little or nothing in tuition but instead teach in the school.  Although this alternative is quite economical, the academic product may not be college preparatory.

A final suggestion to afford a Christian education is to home school.  (For further information on home schooling in Texas, see https://thsc.org/how-to-homeschool/.)  This alternative has the added benefit of maximizing the student’s time with the parents, as well as being the most economical.  The down side is that most moms find it difficult to cover all the high school subjects adequately if they want a college preparatory education.  To meet this need, they can enroll in online classes, hire tutors, if they are available, or look for a private school that will cooperate with home schoolers by allowing them to enroll part time.  (Logos Academy accepts part time students.)

If you are convinced of the value of a Christian education for your children, think broadly and do lots of research.  The goal is achievable; your children are worth the effort.

Similar Posts