Day Care Is Now More Expensive Than College in the Majority of States, Report Finds

Thinking about sending your kid to college? By now, it’s been established that college is expensive, and therefore the best approach is likely to start saving up, in some cases even before your child is even born. The most logical way to make the most out of your economic situation is to have both parents working, though that will require sending your son or daughter off to daycare.

But now, day care is more expensive than college in 31 states, according to a new report.

As frightening as the statistics might be, the hard truth is that they’re a reality. Child Care Aware America, a national organization comprised of child-care resources, found that annually, sending an infant off to daycare is actually greater than the cost of sending an older child to an in-state, public college in the majority of states across the U.S. The worst offender, according to the Washington Post, is New York, where day care can run easily $15,000 for a year — more than $8,000 more expensive than a year of college.

South Carolina, on the other hand, can boast that the average cost of college is actually $4,000 more expensive than day care, but that could be in part because of state reductions in higher education funding. In other words, both might be setting your bank account back several thousands of dollars.

This has all led to a spike in the number of stay-at-home mothers, according to Pew Research. Nearly a third of all moms in the U.S. now stay home to watch their children, a figure that jumped up from 23% just 15 years ago. The reason is the same. Prohibitive day care costs are simply driving more women not to work because they can’t afford it, and about half of stay-at-home moms haven’t gone to college at all. A third live in poverty.

Staying at home, though once a popular option among new mothers, can now even lead to dire consequences once both parents hit retirement. The average stay-at-home mom has, on average, $11,000 less saved up than a man would by the time she turns 65. And that’s becoming more and more of a problem as the economy lags in its recovery.

Nanny jobs, however, continue to rise. In 2012 alone, approximately 1,312,700 workers were employed in the childcare industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic.

Whatever happens in the next few years, it’s clear that women might not be making waves in the workforce. Who is impacted the most from these numbers? It’s hard to say, but it could very well end up being the children. So parents, make your choice — college or day care?

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