I thought public schools were free? Public schools are not allowed to charge tuition but high fees for a public education can send anyone’s budget into a tizzy. In Chicago for example, most public schools require fees to rent or purchase books and the amounts can climb (quickly) to $400 per child. That number is not going down anytime soon, last year and for the third year in a row, Illinois cut the school budget for textbook costs. So if you have kids and debt, get rid of the debt so you can afford your kids.
There is a calculator at www.bankrate.com to calculate the cost of raising a child. The average cost for a child age 0-18 is $190,528 and this amount does not include the costs of college tuition or health care. For example, according to www.finaid.org, the average costs for students attending four-year public colleges and universities were $15,213 plus an additional $4,000 for textbooks.
If you have young children, start saving now. If you have to pay $400 per child in textbook rental fees and you have 3 children, you’re looking at $1,200 to pay for your child’s public education. It would be nice if that was the only other hidden charge but Illinois schools also charge for:
- Use of school property (lockers, towels, laboratory equipment)
- Field trips
- Uniforms and equipment
- Participation in extracurricular activities
- School functions, i.e. prom
- Participation in class, i.e. home economics materials, shop, etc.
- Graduation fees
- School record fees
- Driver’s education fees
- School health service fees.
Fixed incomes beware – kids are expensive. Even when public schools claim to be free, you are looking at some money to pay for your kid’s future. We all want the best for our children and being able to budget and pay for school costs would be a lot easier eliminating or consolidating the other debt. The $400 minimum payment going to credit card interest could be the $400 payment charged to rent books at your child’s elementary school.
You cannot blame the schools – with budget cuts you have to make due. But you should be cognizant and the costs of public education and your finances. Filing a bankruptcy would eliminate your debt and allow you to put money away for your child’s future.