Deciding If You Can Afford Christian School Tuition

The following guest post was written by Jim Huinink. Jim is the Director of Web Strategy for a portal on Canadian private schools that features private school listings and advice for parents including where to find Christian schools and information on paying private school tuition.

Like many parents, my wife and I are committed to sending our children to a private Christian school. For eleven years now, we have been paying exorbitant tuition rates that sometimes, frankly, were barely affordable. Let me just note for ChristianPF readers that I am Canadian, from Ontario, where Protestant Christian schools receive no government funding. If you live in a state or province where Christian schools receive government funding, I congratulate you. However, many of us do not.

While Christian private education is desired by a lot of parents many dismiss the possibility outright, certain that the cost is out of reach. Before you decide that you cannot afford Christian school tuition, let me offer you these points to ponder.

1. Affording Christian school tuition is an act of faith for most parents.

I know many families who have a minimal annual income but they are committed to providing their children with a Christian education. We were in that boat when our oldest daughter began school, and we had to compromise to afford the $6000 per year tuition. We never traveled, we bought second hand clothes, we drove older vehicles, we kept a small mortgage (on a small house, too, let’s note).

Living through those times was not easy. But I’ll also admit it was good for us. This is not to say that you have to suffer to pay Christian school tuition, but you need to believe that the life-long benefits will outweigh the short term pain. Years from now, your kids will not hold it against you that you could not afford to buy them a new gaming console every year. (I promise you, they won’t!)

We sent our kids to Christian school in faith. This faith has had practical benefits. We see that in our children’s character, the friendships they have formed. I believe you will, too, if you send your children to a Christian school with fellow Christians living out the values you also hold. Paying tuition might even drive you to work harder, to be more ambitious and to find new streams of income, as it did for us.

2. We do not regret keeping faith.

You are automatically exposing yourself to a built in support group.

Many churches support Christian education, and if you appeal to them in times of trouble they may be able to help you. Many Christian schools have tuition aid funds to help families going through struggles. If you feel that your income barely puts you on the cusp of being able to afford Christian school tuition, have faith that there are people around you who will be willing to help you.

3. There may very well be tuition assistance or tax breaks.

Before you dismiss private Christian education outright, visit your local Christian school and find out from the principal or teachers what assistance or tax breaks might be available. I can’t outline tax laws and supplements in every state and province in North America but I know many parents are surprised by the availability of a tax break in our province. This tax break allows parents to claim a significant portion of their tuition as a charitable donation. There are almost certainly similar loopholes in your state or province that will significantly ease the burden of tuition payments.

Whatever you do, don’t look at the tuition rates at face value. Be sure to discuss your options with other parents who send their kids to private Christian school. Find out from the principal how families afford tuition. Ask a financial advisor or accountant, who may know something no one else does.

You may be surprised that Christian school is more affordable than you originally thought. After a year or two of fighting to make tuition payments you may find it easier. If you fight to keep your kids in Christian school you will reap rewards of keeping faith.

And in the end, isn’t that what it’s all about?

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  1. Minda

    I would add, don’t assume a Christian school is going to be better for your kids. I went to a Christian school for late elementary and middle school. After that I convinced my parents to let me go to the public school. The teachers at my school were under-qualified and judgmental. The student were just as mean spirited as the non-christians I knew and also very self-righteous. I got awful tired of the favoritism and micro-management. At the public school I found the academic rigor, the individual responsibility and most importantly the friends I needed to grow.

    My point is ask around and consider what is best for the individual student, my sister did quite well in the Christian school and my brother at a private military school.

  2. Olivia

    We’re grateful we’ve been able to send our sons to Christian school. For the most part the teachers have been fine teachers and solid Christians. We appreciate their spiritual influence on our sons as much as the academic rigor. Since our local public school is not particularly stellar, the choice was between Christian school and home schooling.

    The largest disadvantage to Chrstian school is a smaller place can’t offer learning support. Our oldest has learning issues. We also encountered a few teachers who didn’t believe his less common learning disablities existed. (In spite of showing them test results. That was a bit surreal.) At that point we considered pulling him out. We prayed it though and our son decided he wanted to stay. So his dad worked with him at home at night. Between his dad’s efforts, the support of classmates and certain teachers he graduated.

    Our state and school administers/offers income based aid making Christian and home schooling roughly the same for us. Like you, we’ve made the conscious choice to cut back in every other area to send the kids there. Some parents don’t have as many options.

  3. Ben

    My story is similar to Minda’s. I went to a Christian school for elementary school but it was a terrible experience. I think parents should raise their children at home to be strong Christians, and then send their kids out into the world to be salt and light.

  4. Stephanie

    I agree with Minda and Ben. We are not parents yet, but have already decided to send our kids to public school. We plan to rasie our kids to be strong in their faith by teaching and reinforcing those values at home and at church, but we want them to be exposed to the world as well. My husband wen to Christian school in elementary school and suffered from extream culture shock when he entered the public school system. We want our kids to know how to be “in the world, but not of the world”, to be “salt and light” as Ben said.

  5. King Faulkner

    Several here are being very naive. Goverment school is school run by the government pushing their values. THEY want to be your God. THEY want to control where children are taught so they force everyone to pay for their educationally, morally and spiritually bankrupt system. It is a miserable failure for the vast majority of those that are forced to attend. What parent would opt for government education if they had a choice – NONE! Just like no one wants goverment healthcare – no one would choose government education. What other part of our society do we allow or tolerate such blatant predatory monopolistic practices as we do in the “public” education arena? “Public” education is about jobs (teachers unions) and pushing a social agenda (abortion rights, homosexual rights, etc.) – education is distant 3rd priority – if it is a priority at all.

    Some say you shouldn’t “shelter” your kids. That’s garbage. Of course you should “shelter” your kids. Do you allow them to watch whatever they wish on TV? Go wherever they wish in the Internet? Hang around with whomever they please without oversight? No good parent would do this. Yet you would advocate sending your child to a place where people are routinely picked on, bullied, and harrassed? Where your child is routinely hit on by other kids wanting sex or trying to get your kid to try drugs? The fact that we tolerate this in our schools is unbelieveable. I am not sending my child into that kind of environment and neither should you.

    Some say faith should be taught in the home and at church. True. But why shouldn’t it be taught at school? Wouldnt’t you want to have your child surrounded by believers all day, every day? Wouldn’t you want your child to be encouraged and supported by caring teachers who reinforce your values?

    With that said, not all Christian schools are well-run and not all have high enough expectations of students and faculty. Where people are involved, there will inevitably be imperfection and hypocricy.

    I completely agree that Christian school is not for every kid – you have to judge whether your child is a fit. However, I would agree with the above poster that the choice should be home school or Christian/parochial school. Do whatever you need to do to GET YOUR CHILD OUT OF GOVERMENT SCHOOL.

  6. Janice

    I agree with King- If only most people knew what the government does behind close doors, I mean behind the scenes. They are full of corruption and not to mention, everything has an agenda.
    We are to shelter out kids, train them in the way they should go. Not the school system. Your kids are at school for 8-9 hours a day, you are entrusting them into the hands of teachers, coaches, principles, staff.

    I want my kids to be entrusted with Christian staffs for 8-9 hours a day. Where they can read the bible, attend chapel, and have strong relationships with God and their friends. Wh wouldn’t?
    Culture shock? Really? With everything on Tv and outside this world, there isn’t much left for “shock”.. just saying.

  7. TS

    We have had experience with all three schooling options being talked about here; public, christian, and homeschooling. All have pros and cons. While I do believe that each parent needs to pray hard about which option is truly best for each of their children (and each child is different even in the same family), I believe public schools in the US are becoming less and less of an option for anyone wishing to raise their children in the love and admonition of the Lord. The christian parents I know that advocate for public schools prove that people become conditioned to what is happening and it clouds their judgement on what is truly right and wrong according to the bible. I don’t know any parent with kids in a public school that has actually read any of their children’s text books in their entirety. If they did, they might not be so supportive of the system. Added to that is what each teacher personally believes and wants the students in their classes to think. I am shocked by some of the comments fueled by what is going on politically that teachers say to their students. One of our son’s teachers actually stated to his class that an elected official should be killed . In the middle school our son attended they often used movies to “support” what was being taught and for reward days. They have a policy that no matter what is in the movie as long as it rated PG-13, PG or G it is okay to be shown. Should sex, nudity, vulgar comments and swear words ever be okay in school? A few of the movies shown were; “Far and Away”, “Dances With Wolves”, and “Transformers 3”. Mind you, these were shown to students that were in the 11-12 year old range. If you wouldn’t allow your child to watch the movies, they had to sit in the library and write a report. How fair is that!? What is even more sad is that I asked another christian mother if her child had to write a report instead of watching one of the movies and she didn’t even know they had watched it. That seems to be how it is a lot, parents don’t really even know what is going on and being taught yet they are supportive of the system. For anyone to believe that those running public schools actually care about what is in the best interest of the students, do some investigating! It won’t take you long to realize that while there are some that do really care, most don’t. Our son’s 7th grade class was scheduled only 15 minutes to eat lunch (including the time it took to get their cold lunches or wait in line for hot lunch). When parents starting complaining both principals stated that they knew it wasn’t a healthy amount of time and I quote, “I am a fast eater myself, but I have been watching the kids eat and it is disgusting how some of them have to shovel their food in”, but they defended themselves saying that that is all the time they can allow. They both timed the kids for a couple days and found that from the first student to sit down to eat to the last they were only getting from 3 to 11 minutes to actually eat their food.
    And again, they stated that they know it is not healthy, but it is what it is.
    There is so, so much that I could write about and the school he attended is considered to be a good school.
    Whether your child attends a public or private school there will be things that you may not like or agree with. However, as christians, we are called to train up our children in the Lord’s ways, not the worlds ways. Saying our kids have to be taught the world’s ways to be exposed to “reality” is like saying we need to stand in a fire to learn we will get burned. You don’t show kids inappropriate “x” rated material to teach them that it is wrong. The bible clearly tells us to guard our hearts and minds and to be careful of the company that we keep. As parents it is our responsibility to do that for our children.

  8. sandrra

    I am thankful for all the opinions posted and I truly believe that the best option for my children is either Christian or home shooling but my problem is that I make maybe 15,000 per year and the tuition for my children would be 9.000 …. what to do what to do. I do not have the qualifications to get a better job nor does my husband we are considered low income as it is how are we ever going to afford to send them where I know in my heart I should? I feel like my children are penalized for my shortcomings….. any advice and/or prayer is welcomed as well as needed thanks

    • King Faulkner

      Sandra – I don’t know where you live but you should talk to the Christian schools in your area. They should have tuition assistance programs. Some will ask you to complete a financial assessment to document your financial situation. In those cases, this will show how much assistance you could receive. Additionally, as is stated above, there are undoubtedly those at the school that would be willing to help. When situations like this occur, the administrator has people he/she can call on to help. Also, at this time of the year (October), classes are usually fairly well set. There is many times little or no additional cost to the school to adding one or two students. If they have openings in certain grades, they may be even more willing to work with you. If this is something you believe God is telling you, don’t delay. Call them, set up appointments, go visit, pray, and leave it in His hands.

  9. Peter Gerba

    I have taught in public schools for 9 years. I have seen people who go through Christian schools and public schools. Most of it depends on the parents. The Bible put the responsibility where it belongs… in the parent’s hands. Parents need to be active in the school and their kids education no matter what they choose. There are too many parents that think it is the teacher’s responsibility to educate their kid. The teacher is only there to help the parents fulfill their Biblical duty. There are great Christian schools out there and some not so great ones. Same goes for public schools. The parent MUST do the research and make the best choice for their children.

    The problem with public schools is that class sizes have become bigger than classrooms were made for. Teachers focus on the average student and the 2 extremes get lost. The public school teacher is forced to be more concerned about numbers, paperwork and “political hoops” than their students. Charter schools are sometimes the best option for parents that can’t afford a Christian school. When it comes down to it, Christian school or home school done in a network or group are the best options the majority of the time. In the end the parents must do the research and make the best choice for their children.