Expert Q+A: Are We Ready for Preschool?

Paying for Preschool

Q. I had no idea preschool was so expensive. Any suggestions for making it more affordable?

A. Preschool tuition can leave you with sticker shock, especially if you're thinking about full-day programs. Consider preschools based in churches, Jewish Community Centers, and YMCAs, which keep costs down by sharing the larger group's space, and may offer sliding-scale fees. There may also be a co-op preschool in your town; such preschools rely on parents to handle all kinds of duties, from assisting teachers to serving on the school's board. If you and your spouse both work, ask your employer about dependent-care spending accounts, which allow you to set aside as much as $5,000 of pretax income to pay for childcare, or look into claiming tuition as part of the federal dependent-care tax credit. You can only choose one; you may want to talk to an accountant about what the best strategy is for your family.

Sarah Crow, a mother of three, lives in Concord, New Hampshire.

Originally published in American Baby magazine, February 2004.

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