Daycare costs now exceed college costs in East Tennessee

mom-with-daycare-childrenBy Michael Williams

In 31 states the cost of child care has now exceeded the cost of college tuition. In most states, parents are discovering it would be cheaper to send their toddlers to college as opposed to daycare. Tennessee is one of only 19 states in which college tuition costs still outpace child care costs. But that gap may soon be getting narrower.

The biggest gap in the tuition-child care chasm is New York where the average cost of daycare is more than $14,000 and the average in-state tuition is $6,500, a difference of more than $8,000.

According to Child Care Aware America, the state with the highest average child care cost is Massachusetts where parents routinely shell out $14,980 for child care. Conversely, average in-state tuition is $10,480.

The highest average daycare cost in the United States is in the nation’s capital, Washington D.C., where the costs of daycare is $20,178.

Tennessee ranks 37th with the average cost for child care is $7,748 per year. Conversely, the average cost of tuition in the Volunteer State is almost double with an average of $14,280.

Parents of students in Big Orange Country may be surprised to discover what a bargain they are getting for their child’s education. While the cost of tuition at UT exceeds the state’s average child care cost, the margin is relatively narrow. More than 26,000 students attend the University of Tennessee where average tuition costs are $9,780, barely $2,000 more than daycare costs.

The college with the greatest discrepancy in the tuition-daycare gap in Tennessee is Vanderbilt University, where average tuition is $41,928, more than five times the state’s average childcare cost.

In some instances the costs of tuition in Tennessee is less than the cost of daycare. Among community colleges, the cost of tuition is less than half the cost of daycare. At Walters State Community College, the average cost of tuition is $3,336 per year. That figure equates to less than half the state’s average daycare cost.

The gap between tuition and daycare costs in Tennessee may soon get smaller with a new program unveiled in 2014 by Gov. Bill Haslam. The new program provides free college tuition to qualifying students at two-year colleges. This program will likely drive down the average tuition cost in the state effectively narrowing the gap between the two expenses.

Many American parents, facing escalating childcare costs, are hopeful that a tax credit for parents will pass through Congress and get signed into law. The new tax credit, proposed by President Barack Obama, will provide tax credits of as much as $3,000 for child care expenses. The bill is a part of an initiative to provide tax credits to middle class Americans.. Most political pundits, including Bill O’Reilly of Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor,” have expressed serious doubts the new tax credits will pass. Obama’s proposal to pay for the credits would impose new taxes on the nation’s wealthiest taxpayers. Facing a Senate and House of Representatives that is now Republican controlled, the president has an uphill battle on his hands.

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