Paying For It
In December 2017 the 115th Congress of the United States passed a major act dealing with taxes. One of the changes in the Tax Code pertained to ESA or Educational Savings Accounts. Most parents and grandparents are probably familiar with ESAs as a means of saving for their children and grandchildren's college educations. Congress has expanded Section 529 ESAs to include K-12 education expenses as well as college expenses.
First, a bit of history. The educational savings accounts known as Section 529 plans were created by the Small Business Job Protection Act Of 1996. The section of this act which pertains to educational savings accounts is entitled PART VIII—QUALIFIED STATE TUITION PROGRAMS. The text begins on page 141. This is worth reading so that you can discuss the topic with your financial advisor when you set up your 529 plan.
Changes to the Tax Code
On Friday, December 22, 2017 President Donald Trump signed An Act to Provide for Reconciliation Pursuant to Titles II and V of the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2018 While the Act has effects on a wide range of tax situations, the specific text pertaining to K-12 educational expenses can be found on page 74. Here is the relevant paragraph:
‘‘(7) TREATMENT OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY TUITION.—Any reference in this subsection to the term ‘qualified higher education expense’ shall include a reference to expenses for tuition in connection with enrollment or attendance at an elementary or secondary
Beginning the school search process is a lot of fun. Those beautiful photographs of tree-lined campuses and sports activities, the candid shots of classroom scenes portraying kind, patient teachers, the history of the school and its many accomplishments over the years as well as all those famous graduates - it is all very impressive. So, you make a list of schools which you want to examine in greater detail. At this point in your school search process, the question which I posed in the title of this article begins to surface.
I can hear you wondering how you are going to compare schools objectively when the costs seem to be so different from one school to the next. One boarding school charges $56,000 for tuition, room and board while another school in the same state lists its tuition, room and board as $28,000. Why, then, do some schools cost so much and some cost so little?
Your costs for schools which charge the most for their services range from $45,000 to $65,000. These schools are residential schools or what we commonly call boarding schools. As well as charging for tuition and related expenses, these schools have to bill for room and board. You will notice that some schools offer two types of boarding arrangements. One is the customary seven-day a week boarding; the other is a five-day boarding scheme where the students reside at the school during the week and return home on the weekends. The five-day boarding
Vouchers have been a fact in American private school education since 1989 when the State of Wisconsin passed a voucher program which aimed to help students from low income families in Milwaukee. Since then 39 voucher programs have been set up. According to the American Federation for Children the following states now have some form of voucher program:
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
What exactly are vouchers? The simplest definition is using public funds to pay for a private school education. Voucher programs take many forms and we will look at those later in this article.
How many students nationwide benefit from voucher programs? In 2014 approximately 308,000 students were recipients of some kind of tax dollars in voucher programs or variations thereof. That is 0.006% of the K-12 public school student population which was approximately 50 million at the beginning of the 2014 school year. The actual expenditure is in the millions of dollars which like the number of students in voucher programs is tiny.
What is the future of voucher programs? As of 2015 voucher programs are state-sponsored, state-managed and state-funded programs. Some politicians, however, would like to see federal funds used for voucher programs nationwide. Why? Because their constituents are disatisfied with underperforming public schools.
What does the public education community think about vouchers? Needless to say, voucher programs in all their forms and variations are complete anathema to the teachers unions and the supporters of public education. Why? Because