The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many schools to switch to a fully- or partially-online learning model. For many families, this has been a struggle: Parents might be facilitating their child’s schooling while they work from home, and distance learning methods can make it difficult for students to get all they can out of their education. These tough circumstances have led lots of parents to explore at-home learning assistance options.
If you’re looking for something of little or no cost, you can often find free extracurricular tutoring and homework help programs offered by local libraries, volunteers and through your school district. If those aren’t a good fit, private tutors, study groups and extra programming are an option, too. These tools can certainly alleviate stress for parents and help kids learn more effectively, but paying for these services isn’t always easy — especially in an unstable economy. Read on for tips on how to fund at-home education without putting a dent in your finances.
Many school districts have had free homework help and tutoring programs since before the pandemic, and there may be even more free options now that many students need extra learning assistance. Check your child’s school district website for more information — their teachers might also be able to lead you in the right direction. Other schools and colleges are a good place to look, too. Some high school and college students offer tutoring for class credit, so their services are free of charge. If your child needs a computer to work on, your school district may be able to provide one for you, or you can see if your local library has computers and tablets available for check out.
If you can’t find free resources locally, there are government-sponsored programs that might be able to help, too. For example, you may qualify for free tutoring services through the Every Student Succeeds Act. Programming varies by state and school, but a little bit of research can have big payoff. The Boys and Girls Club of America has locations across the country that offer after-school programming and homework help. You can also find free online videos, books and tutoring sessions through non-profit organizations like Khan Academy and The Learn To Be Foundation.
Since many schools are transitioning to a distance learning model, some of the normal schoolyear costs can be reallocated to tutoring services or other learning assistance programs. Money you would use for new clothes, transportation or extracurricular activities can be used for this year’s new education expenses. If you’re working from home, you might be saving on gas money and lunches out, and cash normally spent on entertainment may also be available to pay for other things. Make a budget that includes at-home learning assistance, and stick to it — that way, you’ll be able to make continuous payments without financial stress.
If the distance learning model adopted by many public schools doesn’t work for your family, private schools that meet in person and offer smaller class sizes might be a good option to explore. While private and charter schools can be expensive, many offer scholarship programs, income-based tuition or repayment plans that make it more affordable than standard tuition.
If you’re feeling stuck or you want a second opinion from a professional, talking to your banker about your financial position can help you get an idea of how you might pay for at-home learning options. Your banker can help you with small and large changes — whether you want to examine your spending habits, adjust your savings, defer a loan or consider refinancing, they can help you decide what will be most beneficial for your short-term and long-term financial goals. If you find that the free resources aren’t enough, we’re here to help. Reach out to a U.S. Bank banker whenever you need professional input.
Navigate your financial well-being throughout the COVID-19 situation here.