Save Money on School and Daycare Tuition

Jul 31, 2009

The cost of daycare, preschool and private school is just extraordinary, isn’t it? No one likes to hand over that check each month – and the more kids you have and the more checks you have to write, the more painful the experience.

I have found a way, though, that you may be able to save hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars in tuition costs – but it’ll take some planning on your part.

My daughter attended a private school for Kindergarten and 1st grade. It wasn’t the most expensive private school in town, but it wasn’t cheap either. At her school, parents pay the tuition on a monthly basis (as opposed to writing one big check for the whole year.) When I went in for a tour of the school, I met with the principal privately and said to her, “If I pay for the whole year in advance, will you give me a discount?” Without missing a beat she said, “Sure. I’ll give you 10% off."

Now, 10% isn’t a lot off when you’re shopping for clothes, but when you’re talking about school tuition, it’s a bundle! It’s easily hundreds of dollars. Multiply that by a number of years or children or where you live in the country and it can easily become thousands. You couldn't earn a higher interest rate on that money if you left it in a bank or money market account - and we all know how much (or little) the stock market will earn you these days.

So, that is what I did for my daughter's first two years of school. I'd save all year long so that, come August or September, I could write one check for the year. The first time I went in to pay this way, the school's administrative assistant told me she'd have to call me later in the day to discuss the details of the transaction with me. She said, "No one's ever paid for the whole year in advance before!"

Now, for some reason, though I was doing this with my daughter’s private school, it never occurred to me to inquire about it at my son’s daycare/preschool – until a few months ago, that is. At that point, I emailed the director and asked her if I were to pay the year in advance (for either one or both of my sons), if she would give me a 10% discount. She wrote back right away and said she would. Thus, since that “email conversation,” I have been saving as much money as I can for the new school year – in hopes of paying for at least one of the boys’ tuitions in advance. Ideally, I’d like to pay for both that way, but I’m not quite sure yet if I’ll have enough saved up by the fall. Still, that is my goal. (And, though I say 'I,' I of course mean me and my husband. I refer to it as 'me,' though, because he and I have different things that come out of our salaries. School tuition happens to come out of mine and so, I try in every way to make my salary stretch as far as possible.)

Now, I realize that many private schools already require the full tuition in advance of the school year. When I was a school counselor, the school I worked for was like that and you had to pay right up front. But, if your school or daycare or preschool generally has parents pay month-to-month, then it might be in your best interest to inquire about a discount for paying in advance. After all, all they can say is no. But, if they say yes, you could be saving yourself quite a bit of cash. (When discussing this with my husband, he told me that he'd told a woman he knows that I'd done this. She decided to try the same thing, but actually asked for a 13 or 15% discount and was given it. You never know until you ask, right?)

I also recognize that this requires a good deal of discipline on your part – to set that money aside so that you can financially manage to pay upfront. But, just think how nice it will be to not have to write that check each month and know that you’ve saved yourself a ton of money!

If you try this and it works for you, please let me know! I love to hear about my friends saving money in a big way!


Richie said...

Very cool! I'll have to give this a try. Thanks!

Kelly Seiler said...

Great, Rich! Let me know if it works!

marilisa said...

I thought this was a great tip, but my MDO at Bannockburn Baptist said no - but they said it did give them something to think about. Maybe they will reevaluate for next year =-)

Kelly Seiler said...

Maybe they'll change their mind. You probably caught them off guard. My sons' school has never done it before, but I think a lot of schools have a "cash-flow" issue - and so, even though they end up making less money, this way, they are able to access it earlier, when they may need it. Keep me posted!

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