Childcare Costs More Than Some Colleges

By: Anneken Tappe · January 23, 2024 · Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Cost of Care

The thought of paying for a child’s college education is a huge financial stressor for many parents. But the financial burden of raising kids starts well before they’re old enough to go to university.

Parents spend tens of thousands of dollars on childcare every year, with nearly half spending as much as $18,000 per year, according to’s Cost of Care report , which is based on a survey of 2,000 parents. Some 20% of them spend more than $36,000 per year on care, well above the cost of in-state college tuition.

In the 2023-24 school year, the average cost for one year of college at a public, state university — including attendance, tuition, fees, room, and board — was $24,030, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Financial Strain

The pandemic stressed the importance of reliable, high-quality childcare for a functional economy. But with costs as exorbitant as they are, America’s parents are left in a perilous situation when it comes to building their own financial safety net (not to mention actually saving for their kids’ college education). Childcare is considered affordable when it accounts for 7% or less of household income, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Many parents living in expensive cities are squarely past that threshold.

Factoring childcare into your budget can feel overwhelming, but it’s important to do so. When it comes to saving — both in the moment and for the future — be sure to exhaust your resources. Learn more about how to pay for daycare here.

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