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Child care: More costly than college?

A new report finds that in many states, a year of college at a public school is cheaper than a year of infant child care.

By MSN Money Partner Nov 8, 2013 2:47PM

This post comes from Brandon Ballenger at partner site Money Talks News. 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyAt least teenagers can get scholarships. Babies? Not so much. In many states, child care costs more than college or a place to live, CNNMoney says

Baby with money © Creatas, PhotolibraryIt took a look at a new report from nonprofit Child Care Aware of America, which found that for about two-thirds of the country, average child care costs are higher than annual tuition and fees at a four-year public college in the state.

"Center-based infant care for one child was greater than median rent payments in nearly half of the states, while fees for two children (an infant and a 4-year-old) exceeded rent in all 50 states," CNNMoney adds.

Costs vary widely, however. "Center-based care for a 4-year-old hit a high of $12,355 in Massachusetts and a low of $4,312 in Mississippi," CNNMoney says. One reason for higher prices is stricter government standards for care. Massachusetts requires one teacher per three infants, compared with a 1-to-5 ratio in Mississippi.

Another reason for the high cost: rising operational expenses, such as higher insurance rates and food prices. The average cost of infant care in a center increased 2.7% between 2011 and 2012, the report says.

The report also came up with the five most expensive states for child care by comparing the median income for married couples with the average cost of center-based child care. The five least affordable states are Oregon, New York, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Colorado. In those states, child care eats up at least 15% of income.

"The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services considers 10% of family income for child care as a benchmark for affordable care," the report says.

Of course, as we noted a couple months ago in "Cost of raising a kid is $240,000: How to cut it in half," only a quarter of families used organized facilities for child care in 2011. For those who aren't flush with cash, stay-at-home parents or relatives often fill that role for far less.

Do you think these child care figures are reasonable? Comment below. 

More on Money Talks News

Nov 8, 2013 5:47PM

Gee, nice comments from a couple of you!  I was married and we both had steady jobs when I had my child.  Fast forward less than 2 years and my husband walked out leaving me our daughter AND holding the bag for $85k in unpaid bills he racked up during our marriage.


Okay, should I have sat at home collecting government benefits, or buckled down, put my kid in daycare while I worked to put a roof over our heads and food on the table while paying off that horrid mountain of debt?


Five years later I was debt-free, my daughter was enrolled in private school (she had started in their pre-school program when she was 3) where she was a tuition student, not on scholarship, and I was able to set money aside for emergencies, vacations and retirement.


Fast foward again to current day.  My daughter is grown up.  She's never been in trouble with the law, is getting an education is capable of supporting herself.  Seems she wasn't too damaged by spending her early years in daycare while Mommy found a way to make ends meet.


The moral of the story?  Don't paint with such a broad brush.  There are a multitude of reasons parents put their children in daycare.  We're not whining, we're just trying to raise the next generation as best we can.

Nov 10, 2013 1:23AM
So, in order to have children, we should be affluent enough to have one of us stay home to "raise" them?  Wow.  How enlightened some people are...
Nov 8, 2013 5:03PM
If I could afford to say home I would keep my kids at home and home school them.. I always fill guilty that I don't spend the time with them I wish I could.  Every situation is different. You have to make the decision on what to do. I could have choosen not to have kids but when I look at them everyday I know it was the right decision for me. They may be the ones we need in this world save us from our stupidly.
Nov 8, 2013 3:21PM
If you can't afford to stay home and raise your children, don't have any.
Nov 8, 2013 4:39PM
Zero sympathy for people who want to have children and then have others raise them.  Not paying for you to do a lousy job as a parent and then have to pay more to warehouse your cretin in prison or drug rehab.
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