Can we afford private school?

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FamilyCFO
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Can we afford private school?

Post by FamilyCFO » Wed Jul 17, 2013 6:45 pm

We have two boys, 3 years and 4 months. My husband feels very strongly about sending them to private school. There aren't any private schools where we live so it will probably involve a move closer to the city next Spring. The high cost scares me because I like having a small "monthly nut". I think we can afford it, but I'm concerned that we may have to give up family vacations or if things got tight it could affect our ability to save for retirement. I also have fears that if our income goes down we will have spent the money on grade school and not be able to afford high school which I feel is more important. I tend to be very conservative and my fears aren't always rational. What do you all think? Also, anyone here in the Denver area have opinions about local private schools? We are looking for a quality education that will instill a love of learning, not a sense of entitlement.

Financials:
We are in our late 30's.
Income $250,000; about $160,000 after taxes and 401k
Of that we put 10k in an IRA and 8k into 529's (529 balance around 55k)
Our house is paid for and worth about 400k, but if we move we would we would probably borrow between 200-400k.
We have no debt and our cars our newer.
We have about $550,000 in retirement accounts.
We have an emergency fund.
We will have an unknown amount of extra money coming in through stock options. At today's price, about $400,000 over the next 3 years. I would like to use the money to pay off our next house, but perhaps it would be better to use it for tuition or complete the college funds (about 100k).
The schools we are looking at range from 12k to 22k per year per kid and start in pre k.

All input is appreciated!

mlipps
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by mlipps » Wed Jul 17, 2013 7:34 pm

What are your monthly expenses now? What about if you move and buy a bigger house? Will you commutes be longer? How much extra can you put into savings now versus if you make the move? Those are the big questions in my mind.

stan1
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by stan1 » Wed Jul 17, 2013 7:43 pm

Is there a problem with your local public schools? My first thought would be to start there and see how it goes especially since your kids are still very young.

Average of $18K/year x 15 x 2 = $540K.
Then you will want them to go to a private college.
$60K/year x 4 x 2 = $480K
So that's over $1M in round numbers, and possible quite a bit more with 20 years of inflation.

In my social circles I've seen some parents developing a mindset that their kid will end up on welfare (or living at home jobless forever) unless he graduates from Harvard (and this is from parents who themselves have graduated from well-respected public universities). In addition to tuition costs I've noticed that private school parents spend a lot more money for extracurricular activities at the school even in elementary school (tennis, fencing, spring break school trips to Europe). I think it is very hard to keep the parents and the child grounded in this environment.

Parents can instill a "love of learning" better than any school, and that costs nothing.

209south
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by 209south » Wed Jul 17, 2013 8:50 pm

One of my favorite quotations..."If you think education is expensive, consider the alternative". I grew up in a public school family, but sent my three kids to private school after a disappointing pre-k experience for the oldest. All-in was over $1mm (I'm in NYC suburbs). In retrospect we are very happy with the investment - the kids were surrounded by great classmates and faculty, and emerged as respectful young adults with a solid education and great college prep. I wouldn't do it for the 'college placement', as the competition within a good private school is intense and (in my area) it is way easier to achieve a high GPA at a local public school - our kids ended up at three different large state colleges, but the grounding they got in their early years paid off in college and they've all done very well. We have good friends who very happily and successfully went the public route, but a lot depends on the particular facts and circumstances in your district - unlike the capital markets, the elementary/secondary education markets are not very efficient!'

TRC
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by TRC » Wed Jul 17, 2013 8:55 pm

FamilyCFO wrote:There aren't any private schools where we live so it will probably involve a move closer to the city next Spring. !
If you're willing to move, can you move to a city / town that has good public schools? Can you elaborate on the need for private schools? BTW - preschool involves coloring, singing, learning ABCs, sharing, and playing.

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:20 pm

My kids benefitted from attending a good Montessori school, and the classmates I've kept track of are also doing well. My wife credits Montessori as being more important to her success than college.

My kids spent years in a public school system that is highly ranked by the various organizations. To my shame, it took years for me to see past the hype (much of it realtor created to keep property values high) and recognize that many kids, mine included, were not getting what was advertised. Thankfully my kids were accepted at a great private school, and we're lucky enough to be able to afford it. What worked for us might not work for you, but I would seriously consider it.

EDITED TO ADD: of course you can afford it; you just might not be able to afford some other things.

inbox788
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by inbox788 » Thu Jul 18, 2013 12:19 am

FamilyCFO wrote:My husband feels very strongly about sending them to private school.
Sounds like you could send them if you wanted to, but should you? That's the more difficult answer, and the less financial stress the expenditure, the less you need to debate the issue. Assuming money were not a factor, they'd be going to private school, so consider this. If you have excess funds when you pass away, you'd leave it to your heirs, and if you didn't spend a million bucks on their education, they'd probably get a hefty inheritance. So, do you want poorly educated kids with lots of money, or poor well educated kids? You get to make the choice, and if it were up to them, they may choose differently.

Now, IF you go the private school route, you might as well look into UTMA, UGMA, and especially Coverdell accounts. Might as well do it the most cost effective way. Also, start early with 529 if you plan private colleges (and post graduate schools), or even put some in for public schools, though quite a bit less.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coverdell_ ... gs_Account

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HomerJ
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by HomerJ » Thu Jul 18, 2013 12:35 am

If you're willing to move anyway, move to a district with a good public school. The top-end public schools are absolutely as good as private schools.

Houses cost more there, but you get that money BACK when you sell the house in 18 years (plus you get to live in a nice house for 18 years).

Money thrown into private school is just gone.

Dave76
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by Dave76 » Thu Jul 18, 2013 12:40 am

209south wrote:One of my favorite quotations..."If you think education is expensive, consider the alternative". I grew up in a public school family, but sent my three kids to private school after a disappointing pre-k experience for the oldest. All-in was over $1mm (I'm in NYC suburbs). In retrospect we are very happy with the investment - the kids were surrounded by great classmates and faculty, and emerged as respectful young adults with a solid education and great college prep. I wouldn't do it for the 'college placement', as the competition within a good private school is intense and (in my area) it is way easier to achieve a high GPA at a local public school - our kids ended up at three different large state colleges, but the grounding they got in their early years paid off in college and they've all done very well. We have good friends who very happily and successfully went the public route, but a lot depends on the particular facts and circumstances in your district - unlike the capital markets, the elementary/secondary education markets are not very efficient!'
It's hit or miss with private schools. I went to an elite private school in Westchester County for two years. Some of the teachers were great, others were lousy. There is a qualitative difference between state certified teachers and teachers that do not have state certification. Also, the school tolerated a lot of riff-raff because they wanted the money. There were fewer behavioral problems in the Yonkers public school I attended.

I think a Catholic school education is a wiser investment. The teachers may not be state certified, but it's more affordable and they don't put up with riff-raff. Just my $.02

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Thu Jul 18, 2013 6:28 am

HomerJ wrote: Money thrown into private school is just gone.
Homer, that statement surprises me.

Investments in human capital never increase the capital? Why even bother with college then? Are you saying that no private school is worth a penny more than a "free" public school?

Btw, something else about school districts with good schools that you did not mention: property taxes are high. Although our kids go to a private school (because we think it's better), the public schools here are good. Property taxes on our very nice but not palatial home are $38k. Now that money is just gone :D

reggiesimpson
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by reggiesimpson » Thu Jul 18, 2013 6:48 am

HomerJ wrote:If you're willing to move anyway, move to a district with a good public school. The top-end public schools are absolutely as good as private schools.

Houses cost more there, but you get that money BACK when you sell the house in 18 years (plus you get to live in a nice house for 18 years).

Money thrown into private school is just gone.
Couldnt agree more. Been there and done that so to speak. We wised up early in our childrens private school education and got out. Went to a better neighborhood with top notch public schools and enjoyed a terrific school system with stable (and now growing) property values.
As an aside you need to be very wary of your "motivations" for going private. If there are practical reasons (safety, quality education) then thats just fine but if its laced with a good dose of ego then have an honest discussion between yourselves and dont do it. Ego is very expensive...............and i dont mean only in cash!

RadAudit
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by RadAudit » Thu Jul 18, 2013 7:02 am

I love this discussion!

It is beginning to have all the hues of the standard college debate: Should I pay for my kid to go to an elite school in the northeast or let him pay his own way through a state school - minus the problem of how a 5 yr old is going to come up with the money for a private elementary education.

I think what you'll find is that as important as good schools are - and they are - a lot depends on the kid, and the expectations and support created by the family at home, and the value the family places on education. From what little I can see by your post, your kids will do fine - achieve up to their potential - no matter which path you choose.

Good luck.
FI is the best revenge. LBYM. Invest the rest. Stay the course. - PS: The Calvary isn't coming, kids. You are on your own.

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SnapShots
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by SnapShots » Thu Jul 18, 2013 7:06 am

My advice to my children was move to an area with good and safe public schools. Don't throw money away on private schools. You are going to need that money for yourselves or other things later on. My children went to good public schools, were well prepared for college, ended up in good universities with graduate degrees.

I don't think an income of $250K is enough money for private school education, unless you are desperate and have no other choice because the public schools are unsafe or bad.
the best decision many times is the hardest to do

investingdad
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by investingdad » Thu Jul 18, 2013 7:10 am

I have two kids, one starting 3rd grade and one starting 1st grade this Fall. Both are in our local, public school. I would say it's on par with the public school I attended, which is to say...mediocre.

My daughter just completed the COGAT test this year as part of the district's second grade testing. She tested out in 99th percentile. We were not surprised by this because she tested into the district's "gifted" program as a first grader. This means she gets a two hour "pull out" each weak along with about 6 other kids for a class that is taught by the gifted ed teacher. I don't know if my son will go down this path but given his same early reading and comprehension ability like his sister (both self taught readers) I wouldn't be surprised.

What's my point?

My wife and I were identified as 'gifted' when we were in grade school and scored in the same very high percentiles on our respective schools testing programs. Both schools were rural and average at best. Just like our current school district. We graduated from the same Big Ten public university. And we're doing well professionally and financially despite our average public school history.

I suspect my own kids should be able to achieve similar success with my wife and I supporting them. We will not be spending private school money when we already pay 9K a year in school / property tax.

Leemiller
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by Leemiller » Thu Jul 18, 2013 7:12 am

A lot depends on local issues we couldn't possibility address. One thing I will address is how will you fit in socio-economically with the other parents at the private school. I had a co-worker pull his kid from private in part because they'd come home wanting to know why they didn't live in 3 million dollar home like their friends (his home was only about a million). Another old money colleague says he was on the "outs" with certain people until he switched to an obviously high paying job. On the other hand it may be worth it in other ways.

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Thu Jul 18, 2013 7:31 am

Leemiller wrote:A lot depends on local issues we couldn't possibility address. One thing I will address is how will you fit in socio-economically with the other parents at the private school. I had a co-worker pull his kid from private in part because they'd come home wanting to know why they didn't live in 3 million dollar home like their friends (his home was only about a million). Another old money colleague says he was on the "outs" with certain people until he switched to an obviously high paying job. On the other hand it may be worth it in other ways.
One reason that our kids are in private school is for the socioeconomic and ethnic diversity. With scholarships, kids attend the school who could not possibly afford a home in our town. Yes, there are some snobby rich kids, but those exist in our town school also. The majority of kids are pretty nice, since that's one of the admission criteria (it's a holistic process).

I don't know your co-worker, but IMHO, that's a stupid reason to change a kid's school. Skip the opportunity of a teachable moment and just run away. :oops:

Unfortunately, I'm afraid that this thread will be another one where the discussion devolves into the education equivalent of a debate between modern safe expensive cars versus older less expensive but less safe cars.

Old Guy
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by Old Guy » Thu Jul 18, 2013 7:45 am

I think if you go the private school route you need to think about what you want to achieve for your children.

We sent our son to private school in DC even though we lived in one of the best school districts in the country--Fairfax County VA. We were not interested in Sidwell or St. Albans, but rather a school that featured the International Baccalaureate program from k-12. The students were from American families and from some embassies, foreign military, and primarily from the international banking community in DC. We wanted him to be educated with individuals who Americans would be competing with in the 21th century; we wanted him to be comfortable with individuals who had different world views than his. We also liked the emphasis in critical thinking that is central to an IB education, and the total immersion foreign language programs beginning in kindergarten.

So, if you decide to go the private route look carefully at what the school is trying to accomplish with its students and see if that is what you want for your children.

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HomerJ
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by HomerJ » Thu Jul 18, 2013 7:52 am

Tomato... no one is saying you're wrong to put your kids in private school... It depends on the schools, but I'm sure you're seeing a real benefit. But also, you have a ton of money, more than the OP...

Spending 24k-40k on private schools for two kids when you bring home $160k net is a not a decision to be made lightly. Especially when you're already paying thousands in property taxes to support the public school.

I submit the cost/benefit ratio probably isn't there. That private school would have to be a LOT better than the best public school in the area.

There ARE good public schools, and many have excellent gifted programs and teachers.

OP, did your husband or you go to private school? Seems like you two are doing very well... you are financially in the top 5%-10% of the country. I think it's interesting how many public school graduates who are successful enough to put their kids through private school\private colleges don't really notice that their success PROVES that paying extra for private schools/private colleges isn't really necessary.
Last edited by HomerJ on Thu Jul 18, 2013 8:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

staythecourse
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by staythecourse » Thu Jul 18, 2013 7:57 am

HomerJ wrote:If you're willing to move anyway, move to a district with a good public school. The top-end public schools are absolutely as good as private schools.

Houses cost more there, but you get that money BACK when you sell the house in 18 years (plus you get to live in a nice house for 18 years).

Money thrown into private school is just gone.
Agreed 100%. The biggest scam in this country is the high cost of education starting from college and now accomplished infiltrating into high school and down with NO gaurantee of return.

Folks like to think that if they send their kids to a great school they will automatically succeed. That just isn't true. Kids are going to do well based on their own abilities and drive, i.e. ambition. One can't be taught (abilities) and the other is best fostered at home (ambition). Instead folks think taking on 1mill+ of payments will get the job done instead.

What I will look for in a school for my child when she gets to school age is one that is good academically (doesn't need to be the best) and SAFE to allow her to feel comfortable in her surrounding to be allowed to grow. That is it.

For those who spent 1+ mill. compound what could have been saved instead over 20+ years of your child's lifetime and ask your kid when he/ she becomes 60 if they are glad the got the education or would have instead just wanted the compounding value of the saved more (likely in the 2-3 million dollar area). Just like many on here want financial freedom and retire early your children will likely want the same thing. Folks are assuming spending more is going to get their children to love education and be superstars and it just ain't so.

Good luck.
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Colorado13
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by Colorado13 » Thu Jul 18, 2013 8:12 am

HomerJ wrote:If you're willing to move anyway, move to a district with a good public school. The top-end public schools are absolutely as good as private schools.
Agreed. There are some top notch public schools near Denver, particularly in Douglas county, Jefferson county, and Cherry Creek school district.

See http://www.greatschools.org/colorado, http://www.psk12.com/rating/USindexphp/STATE_CO.html.

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Thu Jul 18, 2013 8:17 am

HomerJ wrote:... You have a ton of money
Would that it were true :D , we're still quite a few pounds shy of a ton, but I take your point.
Spending 24k-40k on private schools for two kids when you bring home $160k net is a not a decision to be made lightly. Especially when you're already paying thousands in property taxes to support the public school.

I submit the cost/benefit ratio just isn't there.

There ARE good public schools, and many have excellent gifted programs.
I can't disagree with those points either. Perhaps I'm just overly sensitive, since we so often get asked some version of "the town schools are so awesome, why would you pay for your kids to attend xxx?" For our particular family, and our particular kids, it works out better this way.

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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Thu Jul 18, 2013 8:19 am

staythecourse wrote:
HomerJ wrote:If you're willing to move anyway, move to a district with a good public school. The top-end public schools are absolutely as good as private schools.

Houses cost more there, but you get that money BACK when you sell the house in 18 years (plus you get to live in a nice house for 18 years).

Money thrown into private school is just gone.
Agreed 100%. The biggest scam in this country is the high cost of education starting from college and now accomplished infiltrating into high school and down with NO gaurantee of return.

Folks like to think that if they send their kids to a great school they will automatically succeed. That just isn't true. Kids are going to do well based on their own abilities and drive, i.e. ambition. One can't be taught (abilities) and the other is best fostered at home (ambition). Instead folks think taking on 1mill+ of payments will get the job done instead. What I will look for in a school for my child when she gets to school age is one that is good academically (doesn't need to be the best) and SAFE to allow her to feel comfortable in her surrounding to be allowed to grow. That is it.

For those who spent 1+ mill. compound what could have been saved instead over 20+ years of your child's lifetime and ask your kid when he/ she becomes 60 if they are glad the got the education or would have instead just wanted the compounding value of the saved more (likely in the 2-3 million dollar area). Just like many on here want financial freedom and retire early your children will likely want the same thing. Folks are assuming spending more is going to get their children to love education and be superstars and it just ain't so.

Good luck.
+1 - Best post of the thread. I want to use that bolded line above at the next hearing at the BOE where they talk about how they are solely responsible for the child doing well and therefore try to justify jacking up the budget every year without fail. :oops:
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HomerJ
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by HomerJ » Thu Jul 18, 2013 8:20 am

staythecourse wrote:For those who spent 1+ mill. compound what could have been saved instead over 20+ years of your child's lifetime and ask your kid when he/ she becomes 60 if they are glad the got the education or would have instead just wanted the compounding value of the saved more (likely in the 2-3 million dollar area).
22 to 62 is 40 years... At 7% returns, that's a double every 10 years...

$1 million spent by 22. If saved instead, it would be worth $16 million at age 62. Even with inflation, that's a real chunk of money. :)

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Thu Jul 18, 2013 8:24 am

HomerJ wrote:
staythecourse wrote:For those who spent 1+ mill. compound what could have been saved instead over 20+ years of your child's lifetime and ask your kid when he/ she becomes 60 if they are glad the got the education or would have instead just wanted the compounding value of the saved more (likely in the 2-3 million dollar area).
22 to 62 is 40 years... At 7% returns, that's a double every 10 years...

$1 million spent by 22. If saved instead, it would be worth $16 million at age 62. Even with inflation, that's a real chunk of money. :)
Okay, so how many of the advocates of this are actually putting the equivalent of private school tuition into an account for their child? I'd be shocked if the answer isn't zero. This is just the same nonsense as those newspaper articles that show you how much money you'd have if instead of buying Starbucks you'd put the money into Apple stock. Please. If you don't want to send your kids to private school, fine, but gimme a break!

WhyNotUs
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by WhyNotUs » Thu Jul 18, 2013 8:42 am

Depends why your husband feels strongly about it, CO has one of the most varied set of charter schools in the US and since you are mobile you could find one in the metro area that would meet your children's needs. If it is a need your husband has then that is another story.

I paid 22 years of tuition x 2 (pre-school, school, liberal arts) and have no regrets, at the same time my financial life would be very different if those $$ had gone to investing. There are very real consequences. I was unwilling to move, since you are, then you will have lots of public school options to consider that may meet your children's needs. If not, then there are excellent private options as well.
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HomerJ
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by HomerJ » Thu Jul 18, 2013 8:52 am

TomatoTomahto wrote:
HomerJ wrote:
staythecourse wrote:For those who spent 1+ mill. compound what could have been saved instead over 20+ years of your child's lifetime and ask your kid when he/ she becomes 60 if they are glad the got the education or would have instead just wanted the compounding value of the saved more (likely in the 2-3 million dollar area).
22 to 62 is 40 years... At 7% returns, that's a double every 10 years...

$1 million spent by 22. If saved instead, it would be worth $16 million at age 62. Even with inflation, that's a real chunk of money. :)
Okay, so how many of the advocates of this are actually putting the equivalent of private school tuition into an account for their child? I'd be shocked if the answer isn't zero. This is just the same nonsense as those newspaper articles that show you how much money you'd have if instead of buying Starbucks you'd put the money into Apple stock. Please. If you don't want to send your kids to private school, fine, but gimme a break!
Oh yeah, it's just silly talk... But one could argue that their inheritance would be $16 million larger if we didn't spend $1 million on their education from 5-22. (Okay, $8 million larger because I would be spending some of that extra money on first-class tickets, lake homes, etc.) :)

ThatGuy
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by ThatGuy » Thu Jul 18, 2013 8:56 am

TomatoTomahto wrote:Okay, so how many of the advocates of this are actually putting the equivalent of private school tuition into an account for their child? I'd be shocked if the answer isn't zero. This is just the same nonsense as those newspaper articles that show you how much money you'd have if instead of buying Starbucks you'd put the money into Apple stock. Please. If you don't want to send your kids to private school, fine, but gimme a break!
It doesn't go into an investing account with my child's name on it, but it goes into an investing account with my name on it. Which he will benefit from later in life by having more luxuries paid for, courtesty of my feel-good about my (hopefully) large balance. And, he'll inherit quite a bit more because I won't be sending him to private school.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Thu Jul 18, 2013 10:32 am

Old Guy wrote: [snip...] We also liked the emphasis in critical thinking that is central to an IB education. [snip...]
+1 for IB. IB History classes (with the right teachers) are worth the price of admission alone. Theories of Knowledge, as much as my son complains about it, is also beneficial.

staythecourse
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by staythecourse » Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:00 am

ThatGuy wrote:It doesn't go into an investing account with my child's name on it, but it goes into an investing account with my name on it. Which he will benefit from later in life by having more luxuries paid for, courtesty of my feel-good about my (hopefully) large balance. And, he'll inherit quite a bit more because I won't be sending him to private school.
Agreed.

Mind you I personally am not saying DON'T send your school to private school (why would I care where you send your kid??). What I am just saying is don't assume sending your kid to private school will garauntee or equate to better success in life. If you want the private school (??running with the Jones), you want a religous upbringing that obviously is a no- no in public school, your public school is not safe, etc... Those are many reasons to do it, but they have nothing to do with "If I send little Johnny to x school then he will get into y college and then off to med. school" just ain't true.

For example, I am a physician as is my wife and sister in law. My wife and sister are MUCH smarter then I and paid a TON in private colleges and med. school. One got a perfect 1600 on her SAT and the other 1550+. I did not do nearly as well. Yet I am much more succesful in my career then either of the other two are. It is a long running joke in our household. It is ambition, persistence, and discipline that gives the best chance of success and NOT going to x school for y amount of money.

Good luck.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:18 am

Staythecourse,

Thank you for at least mentioning that there might be alternative measures of private school value beyond the simply financial.

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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by greg24 » Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:20 am

You absolutely can afford private school. You make a crapload of money.

But, there will be consequences to your actions. You may have to give up family vacations and such. You may save less for retirement. You may have to work longer.

Of course you'll have less money for certain things when you decide to spend a lot of money on something else.

Dave76
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by Dave76 » Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:39 am

I think a Catholic school education would be a better return for your investment. I don't see any advantage of a private school education. Any primary and secondary educational program bereft of religious instruction is truncated and, consequently, inferior. Christianity is the wellspring of our culture.

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/19.73.209

Now, do you think the typical graduate of a private (secular) institution is going to know what he is looking at? 60+ years ago, yes. Today, no.
Last edited by Dave76 on Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:59 am, edited 2 times in total.

inbox788
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by inbox788 » Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:48 am

Interesting reading while I was looking to see what percentage of students at Harvard are from public schools. Around 70%. What percentage of all students attend public school? about 90%. So around 4 times higher rate.

http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/2009 ... ean-part5/

Interestingly, the overall stats imply that private schools are smaller than public schools. Is there an optimal size school? If there is a private public school gap, and you adjust for school size, is the gap reduced or eliminated?

Private School Statistics at a Glance
PK-12 Enrollment (2009-10) 5,488,000 (10% of all US students)
# of Schools (2009-10) 33,366 (25% of all US schools)
Enrollment Source: National Center for Education Statistics (see table)

http://www.capenet.org/facts.html

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CMartel2
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by CMartel2 » Thu Jul 18, 2013 12:29 pm

It depends on what you're looking for. I want my kids to attend a faith-based institution, particularly given the bent of public schools these days. It's an easy decision for my family, and it gives us a bit more freedom as to where we want to live, ultimately. Also keep in mind that you may end up paying a bit extra to attend the right public school, as well--primarily in the form of home prices, property taxes, and gas money.

Leesbro63
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by Leesbro63 » Thu Jul 18, 2013 12:41 pm

One of the best values I ever did was move to a suburb with good public schools. Both of my kids got into "name" colleges, while the kids at the local $30,000+ private school were competing against "legacy" kids etc.

Move to a good suburb and save $360,000 per kid.

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Thu Jul 18, 2013 12:45 pm

inbox788 wrote:Interesting reading while I was looking to see what percentage of students at Harvard are from public schools. Around 70%. What percentage of all students attend public school? about 90%. So around 4 times higher rate.

http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/2009 ... ean-part5/

Interestingly, the overall stats imply that private schools are smaller than public schools. Is there an optimal size school? If there is a private public school gap, and you adjust for school size, is the gap reduced or eliminated?

Private School Statistics at a Glance
PK-12 Enrollment (2009-10) 5,488,000 (10% of all US students)
# of Schools (2009-10) 33,366 (25% of all US schools)
Enrollment Source: National Center for Education Statistics (see table)

http://www.capenet.org/facts.html

According to http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/par ... hools.html, private non-sectarian schools represent 1.2% of students, and it's probably those that are enrolled at Ivies. There are a dozen confounding issues, and that's not why my kids are in a private school, but I think it's interesting.

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Ted Valentine
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by Ted Valentine » Thu Jul 18, 2013 1:16 pm

Looks like you can afford to do just about whatever you want. Congrats.
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HomerJ
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by HomerJ » Thu Jul 18, 2013 1:37 pm

Ted Valentine wrote:Looks like you can afford to do just about whatever you want. Congrats.
OP can do anything she wants, but not EVERYTHING she wants... :)

OP has to make some choices.

matonplayer
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by matonplayer » Thu Jul 18, 2013 2:03 pm

Old Guy wrote:I think if you go the private school route you need to think about what you want to achieve for your children.

We sent our son to private school in DC even though we lived in one of the best school districts in the country--Fairfax County VA. We were not interested in Sidwell or St. Albans, but rather a school that featured the International Baccalaureate program from k-12. The students were from American families and from some embassies, foreign military, and primarily from the international banking community in DC. We wanted him to be educated with individuals who Americans would be competing with in the 21th century; we wanted him to be comfortable with individuals who had different world views than his. We also liked the emphasis in critical thinking that is central to an IB education, and the total immersion foreign language programs beginning in kindergarten.

So, if you decide to go the private route look carefully at what the school is trying to accomplish with its students and see if that is what you want for your children.
+1. Our youngest just competed the IB program at a public school and I wouldn't have traded it it for any private school education.

Rodc
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by Rodc » Thu Jul 18, 2013 3:02 pm

I'm basically in your shoes. A little older, a little more money.

My wife is a teacher, has taught public and (very high end) private high schools and so is very knowledgeable.

Our choice was to live in a house we could easily afford in a very high performing public school district. We would get more house for our money in lesser school districts. The money we save over private is substantial and the education our children are getting is first rate (my 7th grade son was learning math I did not learn until late undergrad as a math student! Unfortunately he was less excited about this fact than I was. :) ), and on the other side when they hit things where they struggle there is no problem getting extra help. This leaves money to do many other things, including working jobs we like without much concern about trying to earn top dollar.

I have a friend who did the opposite, but in the end could not quite swing it financially, and after many years of private had to send his kids to public school anyway and had basically no money saved for college. Would have been far better off to have just started public especially as the schools are very good in his district.

If you keep your high paying jobs, and you don't mind scrimping in other areas (maybe expensive vacation and such are just not your thing), you likely have enough money. But certainly even in that case if you go public you could pound that money into a 529 (etc) and have that much more money saved for college and graduate school.

So, can you? With a little care and luck sure. Is it really educationally optimal (for example vs save money for grad school)? You would have to answer that one. Is the issue truly educational anyway? For example is it really a social issue or a religious issue? If so it is less a pure money matter or even less a pure educational issue.

Just because I wouldn't does not mean your mileage might not vary.
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.

Rodc
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by Rodc » Thu Jul 18, 2013 3:05 pm

We sent our son to private school in DC even though we lived in one of the best school districts in the country--Fairfax County VA. We were not interested in Sidwell or St. Albans, but rather a school that featured the International Baccalaureate program from k-12.
Some years ago Fairfax schools participated in the IB program. Is that no longer true?
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.

Rupert
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by Rupert » Thu Jul 18, 2013 3:08 pm

OP, it's difficult to get straight, unbiased answers to your question. I've noticed after reading many threads on this topic on this website and others that people tend to rationalize (passionately) their own decisionmaking in this area. You see a lot of "By God, it was good enough for my kid, so . . ." The fact is no one knows how their kids would have turned out had they gone to a different school. And another fact is, not all private schools are jerk factories. Some of them turn out quite amazing human beings. Also, you don't have to send your kids to private colleges just because they attended private grade schools. You also don't have to spend Christmas vacation in Switzerland and send your kids to summer camp in Maine. I don't know where some of the prior posters get those crazy ideas. There are other middle- and upper-middle class parents sending their kids to private school who can't afford those things. Will there be other super rich kids there? Probably, but it's good for kids to learn early that they shouldn't measure their worth by their assets (or their neighbors' assets).

Can you afford private school? Yes, probably, you're quite well off compared to most people. Should you afford private school? Impossible to say, especially without knowing your husband's motivations.

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Meg77
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by Meg77 » Thu Jul 18, 2013 3:30 pm

It sounds like this is more of a marital issue than a financial one. You and your husband have different values (apparently) on the subject of education. Or, at least, you don't think the better education is worth the cost and he does. You can of course afford it, in the sense that you could stroke the checks and make some trade offs and still max retirement accounts and have more spending money than most Americans. But only you can decide whether spending roughly 25% of your current take home pay on private school is worth it.

It seems as though he has a deep-seated opinion on this very divisive issue. It may not be politically correct to say so, but if he makes most of the money and few of the decisions I would be inclined to defer to him on this one, particularly if you don't disagree that the private school education is better in your area. Some things are more important than money, and marital harmony is one of them in my book.

Let's say you talk him out of it for financial reasons. Only you know your relationship and your husband, but I am picturing him seething and resenting you every time a bully hits your son or a teacher is unresponsive or your kid fails a test. Sure these things can happen at any school, but if times get tough it's a lot easier to justify your decision of private school (thank goodness we did this; imagine how much worse public school could be!) than the other way around (it's probably not any better at the private school...).
"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." - Benjamin Franklin

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wilpat
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by wilpat » Thu Jul 18, 2013 3:51 pm

Home school!!
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by travellight » Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:31 pm

I can't see sending my kid to private school for preschool or elementary. We live in a great school district, great neighborhood and I sent my son to public school through 6th grade.

Junior high was not as great so I sent him to a private school for those years. ($22-26k per year) He liked it so much I didn't have the heart to yank him out after junior high to our perfectly good public school with a great reputation (even though his friends go to that public school).

His private school does have an amazing peer group of truly bright and lovely kids. The teachers are the sort you see depicted in movies..... dedicated/devoted, passionate etc. I travel often but frugally anyway and this choice has not crimped my lifestyle. My net worth may have been higher (well okay, would have/must have been higher) but still is plenty good enough and his inheritance will still be very very decent. I feel okay with the choices I have made using public and private schools. I don't know if he will be a success or not. He is extremely bright but ultimately, it is drive/ambition, perseverance and tenacity that are the critical factors.

Electrum
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by Electrum » Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:43 pm

Yes, you can afford private school.

My friends and I have thought a lot about the issue of public vs private schools, - some have gone the public route and some have gone the private route.

In our town, there is one private school, for grades 7 through 12, and I think they do a fine job educating the kids. A excellent education is also available through the public schools.

The size of the local private school is a an issue here. The private school in our town is small, and does not have the variety of classes the public schools offer. There are no dedicated AP classes, for they do not have enough students who are able to do the AP work to justify a separate class. Some students take the AP tests, however. Sports and music are limited. The small student body can also make it difficult to find a compatible group. Three girls, including my friend's daughter, from the class of 2008, left the private school after the 9th grade because they could not tolerate the viscous girl clique that held sway there. It is much easier to find a compatible social group in a larger school.

Another thing to consider: if your child has emotional issues or learning disabililites, the public schools are required to deal with those problems. Private schools are not. I remember hearing an interview with Anne Ford, a granddaughter of Henry Ford. Her daughter (HF great-granddaugher) had a severe learning disability, and due to family and social pressure, attended private school. The girl's mother said, in retrospect, she should have sent her to public school, because they would required by law to deal with her daughter's problem. I am not saying your children have problems, of course, but it is something to keep in mind.

Full disclosure - my two children went to public schools.

Good luck with your choice.

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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by Colorado13 » Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:54 pm

staythecourse wrote:
For example, I am a physician as is my wife and sister in law. My wife and sister are MUCH smarter then I and paid a TON in private colleges and med. school. One got a perfect 1600 on her SAT and the other 1550+. I did not do nearly as well. Yet I am much more succesful in my career then either of the other two are. It is a long running joke in our household. It is ambition, persistence, and discipline that gives the best chance of success and NOT going to x school for y amount of money.
Not to derail this thread, but my initial reaction to this was "gender disparity in pay." I certainly could be wrong - you indicate you are more successful and I interpreted that as having a higher salary. I know that salary does not always equate to success and vice versa. There are probably many variables at play here, but don't discount the bonus for being a male and the penalty for the females.

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Thu Jul 18, 2013 10:01 pm

Electrum wrote:The size of the local private school is a an issue here. The private school in our town is small, and does not have the variety of classes the public schools offer. There are no dedicated AP classes, for they do not have enough students who are able to do the AP work to justify a separate class. Some students take the AP tests, however. Sports and music are limited. The small student body can also make it difficult to find a compatible group. Three girls, including my friend's daughter, from the class of 2008, left the private school after the 9th grade because they could not tolerate the viscous girl clique that held sway there. It is much easier to find a compatible social group in a larger school.
How does the private school stay in business? Typically you have to offer something that the public school doesn't in order to keep the tuition checks coming in.

michaelsieg
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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by michaelsieg » Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:13 pm

Interesting thread,
The cumulative cost of the private schools if you start in elementary is just staggering.
I think every family and also each child is different, what you buy with private schools is usually smaller class sizes - so I could easily imagine that it can make sense to put a child in a private school, if the child has problems in the public school. But I probably would first try the public school system, if I could do it over.
But with our 3rd grade daughter, we just did the opposite, we just pulled her out of a private school this summer and we will send her to our local public elementary school this fall. The private school is outside DC, immersion in German and offers an IB. We didn't pull her for financial reasons - but my daughter was not happy, there were some issues with bullying and even though I thought that the German is very important (and some day she could go to a German speaking University in Europe for free :happy ), she just wasn't happy there. Then, when she started to do have some academic problems, we decided to pull her out. I hope it was the right decision....

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Re: Can we afford private school?

Post by jlawrence01 » Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:25 pm

I am going to take a completely different point of view than most of the other posters. I attended public school in one of the top rated districts in the state. I attended Catholic schools in the inner city.

The public schools had ALL the greatest facilities - brand new schools, all the latest technology, and much smaller classes. However, the teachers were a very mixed bag. Some were excellent, some mediocre, and many close to retirement who were really unmotivated. They were kind of "there" but had lost the passion. I usually had decent teachers but my sister ended up with ever loser teacher they had at the school. Since most of the teachers were unmotivated, so was I. After a while, I wonder how much of the "highly rated school districts" are highly rated because they are attended by more affluent students with highly involved parents who place a value on a good education.

The Catholic schools I attended had OLD facilities that were well maintained. In high school, most of my teachers were in their "second career". Many had engineering or advanced degrees in science. School was pretty much "no nonsense" - they offered relatively few electives and really pushed you to take advanced classes.

Personally, I would recommend considering all the alternatives and take the time to actually tour the schools and meet with the teachers.

My nephew was with me last week. His parents wondered why he was doing poorly in his high school. We talked with him (a radical concept). Seems like his school has nearly 20 fights in the school - each month.

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