Monday, March 11, 2013

Private School, Public School: What Will It Cost?

As we wait for the letters, I wonder if I'll be able to afford private school even if my child's accepted.

What's the "minimum" cost of year-round care for a school-aged child? 
I'm a working parent. I need full-time afterschool care and summer childcare.  My guesstimate is $10k/year if my child attends public school: $4-5k for afterschool care + $5k for summer camps + childcare for school vacations and furlough days. That hurts, cos that's about what I pay for year-round childcare now.

Here's a few examples of public after-school care:
CIS (GLO) $375/mon;
Rooftop (CASA) $400/mon;
Claire Lilienthal $450/mon;
Jefferson $510/mon - and ends at 5:45. I need 6PM.

Does this sound about right to you, SFUSD parents?

What's the cost of full-time care with private school? 

Synergy - $16.5k tuition + about $2.4k/aftercare ($240/month x 10m) = $18.9k/year ($23.9k w childcare when school closed, including summer camps)

San Francisco School - $22.5k tuition + $1.7k aftercare = $24.2k ($29.2k w/ childcare when school closed, including summer camps)
Afterschool classes: many are free. Others are $10-25/hour, usu $16/hr

Live Oak - $23.5k tuition + $1.5k deposit + $2.2k/year aftercare = $27.2k ($32.2k w/ childcare when school closed, including summer camps)
Childcare when school closed: $62/day
Weekly afterschool classes: $20/half hour

San Francisco Day - $26.5k tuition + $6.1k/year  afterschool = $32.6k ($37.6k with childcare when school closed)
Afterschool is $9/hour prepaid, no bulk discounts.  $36/day x about 170 days= $6100 for K; $4.6k for grades 1 and up.
Childcare when school closed: $90/day
Afterschool classes: $20/hour

San Francisco Friends - $25k tuition, afterschool program fees not listed online.
Afterschool classes: $15-20/hour

Private school parents, is this about right? How much does afterschool care and summer camp add to your total "educational" bill? 

32 comments:

  1. Well I learned from this that Synergy went up from 15.5 to 16.5 since I had last looked...

    I think it can be lower than 5K/summer, if you want it to be. For example 8 weeks of Synergy Summer Camp including after camp care at no additional fee is about $1500. Park and Rec and YMCA offer summer programming that is affordable too.

    But mostly you are correct, and it is good you are laying it out so clearly.

    ReplyDelete
  2. How do you pay less than $10K a year for year-round childcare? Do you get a benefit from Preschool for All? Would love to know your secret!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Home-based language-immersion daycare. We were lucky to be part of a small cohort of same-age kids who mostly stuck around until age 4-5.

      Delete
    2. If $10,000 is more than you are paying now, that means you're paying less than $800 a month. And you said you need until 6 pm. Wow. Is the daycare licensed or is it illegal? Do you think they pay their workers minimum wage? Maybe it's just one person? Still, my mind is blown.

      Delete
    3. Oops, miscalculated. I'll correct my post. It's $850 a month; slightly higher for new kids. Licensed with appropriate staffing ratios.

      Delete
  3. We are on heavy financial aid at a private, but summer care just kills us. It's a bit over 1/2 of what we pay for tuition for the year. We can't afford aftercare or enrichment classes, either.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Park and Rec summer camps are a couple hundred per week, and there are some good camps.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Not all SFUSD afterschool programs charge. Ours (Glen Park) is free but asks for donations. Harvey Milk is free and asks for donations. There are a number of ExCel program throughout SFUSD that are free too. The Boys and Girls Club is free and they have programs with a number of schools. A lot of schools have bus dropoff at CDC afterschool programs. There are also Park and Rec afterschool programs that have close working relationships with nearby schools. They run about $800 a year. Si Se Puede at the top of Diamond Heights used to be $25 a month with a bus from Alvarado to there (that was last year, so I don't know if that's the case anymore).

    ReplyDelete
  6. For privates, you also have to take into condideration annual tuition increases and things like the annual fund giving and other fundraising, as well as fluctuations in financial aid.Even things like the cost of uniforms or school lunches add up over time.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Sounds about right... though you can make summer cheaper with options like the YMCA programs, Park and Rec, and Boys and Girls Club (the one in the Excelsior is free...)

    Some aftercares are less expensive or free of charge. At some schools, there's a for-pay option and a free option, with the free option only available at certain income levels.

    Privates are prohibitively expensive for my family's budget.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Don't forget to budget some donations to your school, whether public or private. Private schools generally do a big annual giving campaign and want everyone to contribute, including those on financial aid. I don't really understand that rationale, but taht seems to be the case (private school parents, please comment if I'm off-base on that). The public schools are getting more aggressive, too. For instance, Peabody sends out a letter at the beginning of the year asking every family to contribute $750 and I understand they are pretty strong in their ask -- calling you multiple times, etc. Right now their afterschool is very low-cost, though (not sure how long that will last, as it's been funded by a grant meant to support low-income kids and I think they are going through a big demographic shift). I think other schools also do an annual letter, although I'm not sure how aggressive they are. Then most schools have an auction and other events in the Fall and Spring. Something to keep in mind...

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think your math is off for synergy: 16.5 + 2.4 + 5.0 = 23.9, not 28. Otherwise, thanks for a thought-provoking post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, fixed it. It was a typo from when I wasn't being explicit about adding $5k for childcare for summer and school closure days.

      Delete
  10. On fundraising appeals -- I think schools differ in their approaches. Despite a pretty significant budget shortfall and a big fundraising push, Sunnyside ES's PTA did not to any direct outreach to/demands from individual families. AND, whenever my son's K teacher has asked for anything she is VERY clear that it is optional, and there is no obligation to contribute (she asked for $20.00 from whoever was willing/able for some classroom supplies.) While the school and PTA would be thrilled if everyone participated/donated, it's clearly optional, and if your family budget doesn't allow it, it doesn't allow it. At privates, there is more of a DEMAND, and EXPECTATION that you give, and the school can make a stink (and often demands a signed commitment at the beginning of the school year.)

    Public is clearly the less financially taxing solution. There are also fewer "closed" days and the camp schedules follow SFUSD calendar.

    Lots of luck to all in the lottery AND to those waiting for private school letters!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Uh, actually there are fewer closed days/more instructional days at our old private school than at our current public school. And camps usually straddle both public and private calendars.

      Delete
  11. Private school is expensive. You are expected to donate to the annual fund which can be between $500-$3000 and there are donations for your specific class for teacher gifts and other class events. If you have any concerns about ability to pay and you get a public school that you like, go public. If you donate $2000-$5000 per year to your public school, it's a tax write off and you are making a significant contribution. There is no write off for private school tuition. Private schools were designed for extremely wealthy families and not for middle class families. They are self-supporting entities and can only survive if the core of their community is able to pay not only the tuition but also endow the school with extra capital for buildings, scholarships, facilities maintenance, etc. The reason we have public school is to make education accessible to middle and lower income families. If spending ten or twenty or thirty thousand dollars per year on your child's education seems like a lot of money to you, you should go public. There are many people in San Francisco who do not feel strained by the expenses of private school because they are extremely wealthy. It is not a burden to them and does not impact their ability to save for emergencies, save for college, or save for retirement. There are eighteen billionaires and countless millionaires that live in San Francisco. The reason why private school feels so ubiquitous is that there are a lot of wealthy families. If you feel that a private school education will limit your ability to save money for important milestones, I would definitely consider this when you are looking a public versus private school options. You need to consider your own family's finances and make prudent decisions based on your own income and assets.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. +1 Leave the privates to the 1%! Put your energy and the money you save into public schools!

      Delete
  12. It is true that private schools want 100% participation for their annual fund. The reason % (not amount!) is important is because it is a factor that many foundations use in determining whether or not to award grants. The specific amount is NOT important -- it can be $1 or it can be $10,000. I know many people that give $100 or less. One person I know gave $1 this year. So the $500-$3000 expectation mentioned previously is certainly not the case in any private school that I know of in SF.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This has been our experience, too: 100% participation in annual funds is extremely important to private schools, because it indicates the commitment level of their families, and this helps when applying for grants. The actual amount is not mandated, and many families contribute $100 or less. At one of the two private schools we've attended, a high school, our "suggested" contribution was indexed to our financial aid award, and so we were only asked for $150, whereas full fare families were asked for @ $3000.

      Delete
  13. Privates usually give a target amount for the annual fund (typically the difference between what it costs to educate a student and the amount of tuition) which they suggest when soliciting for the annual fund. At our school it was about $1200. We can't afford to give that much so we gave less, but I can imagine if everyone gave less then there would be a significant gap in the operating budget. I didn't realize that private schools could apply for grants; I had always assumed that grants for education were meant for less affluent communities or schools which served special populations. I learned something new.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I think your numbers are fairly accurate.

    Although it's often presented as an extreme dichotomy between public school and super-expensive private school, there is a middle way (not feasible for families for whom religious content is a problem): parochial school. Here's an estimated working parent's budget for parochial based on our family's experience, totaling $14,600:
    $7200 tuition
    $300 PTA donation
    $300 other donations (teacher gifts, fundraisers, and voluntary weekly chapel offering [usually for a service project like clothing and food for homeless in the Tenderloin])
    $250 uniforms (1 week supply)
    $2200 daily extended care until 6:00 p.m. (includes a 1-hour weekly coached basketball practice)
    $4000 10 weeks of summer camp with extended care to 6:00 p.m.
    $150 Friday pizza lunch weekly
    $200 daily fresh milk with lunch

    Add another $1500 or so if you will need child care over Christmas break (8 days), Thanksgiving week (3 days), spring break (5 days), and a couple of faculty in-service days. Our parochial does not have a ski week.

    Add more if your kid will do outside activities like swim lessons. Deduct if you are good at getting the Rec and Park camp deals. I have never been able to hit the sweet spot between when they are announced and when they sell out.

    Just like donations to public PTAs, private and parochial school donations (but not tuition) may be deductible for middle-income families that itemize. Camp and extended care fees may also be deductible whether your child attends public, parochial or private school.

    As for diversity, our kid is the only white child in his parochial school class. A majority of students are not Christian. 25% of the kids are on partial tuition scholarships. While our campus is far from luxurious, we know our teachers will never be subject to involuntary furloughs and they'll always have the resources they need to do their jobs.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Somewhat off-topic, but got me thinking . . . does anyone know the average participation rate for various school fundraising efforts? Sounds like most schools aim for 100% participation, so I wonder how close they actually get. I ask because I'm leading the fundraising committee at our preschool and wondering how we're benchmarking as far as participation vs. other schools.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our public elementary aimed for 80-100% this year and was able to achieve about 68% participation, which was a significant increase from about 50% in past years.

      Delete
  16. I think fundraising at most schools (public) is far lower than privates. Ours - a decent one, popular as defined by this board - has less than half the families donating. Generally it comes down to who has more resources. Many people are just too stretched. Privates by definition are filled with a greater proportion of people with more resources, and they tend to be smaller. Preschool fundraisers typically get a much larger portion of the families giving, in part because they tend to be much smaller, tighter communities.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Can someone explain how much money are you are actually expected to donate at privates that are running new or big capital campaigns in addition to their regular annual fund campaigns (SF Friends and Live Oak). Is it really the case that the expectation for non-financial assistance families is another $10+ K per year on top of regular fees and annual fund giving?

    ReplyDelete
  18. there is absolutely an expectation but not necessarily 10K. Within 3 months of our daughter enrolling in private school we were hit up for 5K. This was too much for us and we ended up getting into a back and forth negotiating game. it sucked and was such a turn off. so, we gave what we could (2K). but yes, there is definitely the expectation that goes above and beyond the tuition.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can you share which school asked for a specific amount?

      Delete
  19. " The hardships people put them through to get into these schools is crazy. Part of it is a very hard salespitch which plays on a lot of our fears and insecurities with the public schools."

    Thanks to the tech and biotech industries, and Old San Francisco Money, we have a city with a substantial fraction of very rich people with liquid assets. Those people have a high willingness to pay for Name Brand private schools. But also you have a large number of lower-information-than-they-think-they-have middle-to-upper-middle class parents who don't look beyond the trophy publics, and never looked at parochial schools.

    I toured more than 30 schools: independent privates, publics and parochials. And the least sophisticated parents in terms of exploring options I met were at the tours of independent private schools. In this city, price is not a useful signal of quality when it comes to education.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are some private independent schools that truly follow their philosophy of making the school affordable by providing great financial aid package to those who otherwise cannot afford of...like me! Unfortunately, after having two kids graduate from two amazing independent high schools- on aid, I find myself in the most detrimental situation. My son was accepted at two of his top choice school but no aid extended. We don't have a school for him! It's disheartening to think that a single mom be expected to to pay a $40k tuition when my income and assets demonstrate otherwise. Sadly, both schools have demonstrated lack of care and sensitivity towards our situation. Worse, my son is the only kid in his grade without a school. I'm devastated and it's been really tough on my son, yet, nobody cares-- maybe because we're not affluent!

      Delete
    2. Have you explored all your financial aid and scholarship options, or did your son apply to more affordable schools like UC and State schools? What sort of counseling did your child's high school provide on paying for college? It seems very strange that a top school would not extend any financial aid if you qualify, and there are Pell grants and loans. What is plan B? I think a lot of people straining to pay private tuitions don't think about what happens once their kid graduates and has to pay for college, especially if finances are exhausted on K-12 costs.

      Delete