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Student Loans…. for Kindergarten?!

When we normally think of student loans, we imagine loans for post-high school education: community college, a bachelor’s degree, graduate school, professional programs, etc. But for some, that is no longer the case. Parents are now taking out student loans for their kids to attend KINDERGARTEN. I am usually 100% do-what-works-for-you, but this just strikes me as a little… extreme? strange? unwise?!

According to a March 2012 Smart Money article, pre-college loans are on the rise.

It used to be that families first signed up for education loans when their child enrolled in college, but a growing number of parents are seeking tuition assistance as soon as kindergarten. Though data is scarce, private school experts and the small number of lenders who provide loans for kindergarten through 12th grade say pre-college loans are becoming more popular.

Despite the risks, experts say many parents are intent on making private education a reality for their children no matter the cost. Robin Aronow, an independent educational consultant to families in Manhattan, says parents believe that private schools will give their children a higher quality of education and will help them get into a better college, which is why they’re willing to stretch.

I understand the desire to make sure your children get a good education, but it’s so risky to start taking on debt even before college. I would much rather have my kids attend public school from K-12 and then save the money for college. After all, you can go to school for free before college. Free higher education, on the other hand, is much harder to come by.

  • Michelle - Wow that's crazy! But I do believe it. I live in an area with the most private schools in the country, and this seems like it would be correct. The cost of living is so low here, yet the private schools easily run $40,000 a year, which doesn't making sense to me! ReplyCancel

  • Lance@MoneyLife&More - That is rough. If you're that worried about your kids' education try moving into a better school district but student loans for kindergarten are ridiculous. If you can't afford to pay cash for private school maybe your kids shouldn't be going there… ReplyCancel

  • adahat1 - I remember the days when public school was free. We had to pay for full day Kindergarten this year. We had the option of sending our kids to half day but I was told 95% of the kids are going full day, which could change the 1st grade curriculum with such a large number opting for full day. This to me was a risk I did not want to take with my kid since staying back in 1st grade would be a huge confidence killer. So I bit the bullet and ponied up the 1k for full day. Luckily I have the money though so no loans for me. I would not take out a loan for Kindergarten. ReplyCancel

  • moneyaftergrad - For kindergarten is pretty crazy, but given how bad some schools in the US are, I understand why parents don't want their kids to go through the public school system. If you're stuck in a shitty public school, post-secondary won't even be an option for you when you graduate so there will be no loans for university =\ ReplyCancel

  • Emily @ evolvingPF - My optimistic interpretation:

    Maybe the loans are just to tide the family over until all the children are school-aged and the stay-at-home parent can go back to work?

    Maybe the family just hasn't had an opportunity to move to an area with better schools, but that's on the horizon?

    Other than those TEMPORARY situations, I don't understand why people would take out loans for grade school! I definitely understand wanting to give your kids the best education possible (where I grew up, that was the public school system, thankfully) but having to take out loans means you can't afford that option! ReplyCancel

  • MakintheBacon$ - When I saw the title for this post, I thought: Wow. That is something new. Why would anyone take out a loan for kindergarten? I vaguely remember kindergarten, but from what I remember there was a lot of play time. Sure you learn the ABCs and 123s, but the formal learning didn't begin until the first grade. If I had the choice between FREE play time and taking out a loan, hands down it'd be the free one.

    I didn't go to private school, but in the grade school there was an enrichment program for students. At my high school, there was the option of taking AP courses in your senior years.

    You definitely don't need to go to private school to get into a good university. I'm not sure to what extent it helps, but if that were the case, then a lot of people wouldn't have been able to go to university. ReplyCancel

  • Janette - The crazy part? Many people who pay huge amounts of money for private school live in neighborhoods with good public schools. If you cannot easily take it out of cash flow—never start your child in private school! ReplyCancel

  • BlueCollarWorkman - My girls are in public schools and I think it's great. They're not being treated like little princesses, they're getting an education but also learning about the real world. Although, the public schools where I live are pretty good, so maybe that's why I'm happy with them. My wife and I never considered private schools becuase man, who can afford that?! ReplyCancel

  • Moira Monney - That sounds crazy to me, too, although I'm not very familiar with the US school/kindergarten system. I do understand that parents want to give their children the best of everything. However, if your budget is already quite tight (as I suspect it is, otherwise you could pay cash), the loan will only add more financial pressure – which may lead to quarrels over money between the parents, etc. – and that's not great for the kids either. ReplyCancel

  • First Gen American - I went to a private school and my kids are in public now. I find it hard to justify a private school education even when I can afford it. Is it really that much better that it's worth hundreds of thousands of dollars before even hitting college? Hard to know for sure, but for now, the answer for our family is..no, it won't be worth it unless a kid really struggles in the public school setting. ReplyCancel

  • Jason - I wouldn't just say it's risky. I'd say it's insane. I've coached a few people that send their kids to private school (and can't afford it) but they refuse to take them out because of the "community" and friends they've joined. I literally had one lady tell me she was fine getting foreclosed on as long as her kid could remain in private school. People are dumb. ReplyCancel

  • Jen@ Broke-Ass Mommy - That really is ridiculous!

    I read an article once about private tuition, how school counselors had partnerships and act as gatekeepers to higher learning, and one's 'financial pedigree' affected one's entire education. Apparently, there are massive waiting lists to enroll in some of the better private kindergartens — and attending these serve as a crucial stepping stone into being accepted into the better private middle / high schools, which in turn help enormously with 'getting one's foot' into the ivy league colleges.

    Is this how we want education to work? sigh.. ReplyCancel

    • kim - I read something like that too – I live in an area rife with that attitude. They set their kids up on these stepping stones, and will do anything to get their kids there, including debt and helping out the kids to an enormous extent. Including, apparently, loans for kindergarten! ReplyCancel

    • evencheap - Wow, what is this world coming too! ReplyCancel

    • Well Heeled Blog - Poor kids. Imagine all that pressure. ReplyCancel

  • @momoneymohouses - Omg, I had no idea you could even do it. I personally have no problem with public school. I went to it and I turned out just fine, got accepted into university, and now have a degree. I think parents are putting too much importance on private school as if that's what will guarantee that their child or children will be successful later in life. Sorry, I don't think so. ReplyCancel

  • kim - Unless you're in the inner city or a really poor neighborhood, the public schools are fine…provided the parent is at least a little bit involved. There's never a need to go into debt for something you can get for free!!! ReplyCancel

  • Matt - This is crazy. One of my family members is in debt, and they still send their kids to private school. To me this is no different than taking out a student loan, but its even worse because your relying on Credit Card interest rates. If you're in debt, then your kids should be in Public School. Don't burden yourself with these extra loans that could easily be avoided. ReplyCancel

  • evencheap - That's nuts! It would be interesting to see a study of people who went to public school versus a private school from K-12, just to see how their life turnd out. ReplyCancel

  • My Money Design - My parents were in this boat. They sent me to private school because we lived in king of a bad area and the public schools were not very good. They didn't take out any debt, but they came close and certainly made sacrifices. ReplyCancel

  • nicoleandmaggie - I am glad we don't have to do that. ReplyCancel

  • belowhermeans - I have three letters for this: WTF. ReplyCancel

  • Little House - That does seem a little extreme. If you can't afford a private school, then send the kids to public. When you compare K-5 education between private and public (and perhaps 6-12th though I'm less familiar with these grade levels), it really isn't that different across the board. Sure, there are some private gems out there, but I don't think they're worth taking out a school loan for. ReplyCancel

  • Jordann - That is CRAAAAZY. I'm very lucky to live near one of the highest ranked schools in my province, but even if I didn't, I wouldn't be sending my kids to private school, I'd more likely just put in the time to give them additional schooling at home. ReplyCancel

  • becca - Given the way kindergartens are set up in some places, it might make sense to go to a private kindergarten (the scenario outlined about having to pay for full-day is one I've heard before- some places don't even have full-day public kindergarten), while planning to go to public schools after that. In which case, the loans would be for a year, a year when your kid's brain is actually at it's most flexible. I can see the rationale.
    I also watched some kind of documentary (Nursery University, I think) about the hyper-elite world of New York private schools. I could understand why a family might opt to take out loans for a kindergarten there, if they thought it would dramatically increase their odds for getting a scholarship for the other years. ReplyCancel

  • Felicia Gopaul - Student loan in as early as Kindergarten is unlikely but I understand that parents would want their children to have a good education. Whether it's Kindergarten or college, what is important is that it is for the best interest of your kids and you have a good financial plan to back this up. ReplyCancel

  • lisang278289621 - I would say if you can't afford it, don't send your kids to private school unless you live in a really bad area. My son's daycare DAYCARE was about $25K last year. Scary huh? But it's the best. We prolly won't be paying for private K though. We are already looking forward to cheaper child care now that he's starting age 2 class! ReplyCancel

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