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Drum Roll Please…


I mentioned it earlier in the summer…that Princess has some big decisions to make this summer. Well, at least one of the decisions has been made. And it is a big one.

Princess has decided to transfer schools for her junior and senior year of high school. I am not going to delve into all the reasons. (There are quite a few both personal and academic based.) But when it comes down to it, this is her decision, initiated by her and I support it completely.

She will be attending a academic based private school about 20 minutes from our house. They have a rigorous application process including not only grades and letters of reference but also student and parent interviews.

The Cost

Now the cost is a big factor, especially in my current situation. And I’m sure I will draw some fire for allowing this, but as always, my desire to do what is best for my kids out weights everything. And I think that this is the best decision for Princess at this point in her life with only 2 years of high school left and being extremely academically gifted.

The yearly tuition is $11,700. Uniforms are required. And there is a cost for bus transportation if we use it. (It is nice that they offer it to our tiny town. I would have to take her to the local Walmart for drop off and pick up, but they do offer a late bus for those participating in activities and sports.)

Thankfully, she qualified for both merit based and need based grants, bringing the tuition cost to $3,000 for the year. There are three different payment plans offered:

  • Pay it all by August 1 and get a 5% discount.
  • Pay it 50%/50% by Aug 1 and Dec 1, at $1,500 per payment.
  • Pay it monthly at $375 toward the principal + $25 per month fee for this option.

I have decided to go with the 50%/50% option. I will use our budgeted money for her uniforms. And I’m not sure about the bus use yet. We will cross that bridge when we come to it.

The one nice thing about this is that lunch is included in the tuition, so that will help some…

What are your thoughts on paying for a private education while on the debt payoff journey? It’s a very new idea to me. But for these two years, for my academically gifted and committed daughter, I feel like this is a good move.



  • Reply steveark |

    I think your great parenting heart is leading you to make questionable financial choices when it comes to education. You are a compassionate caring mom but you can’t easily afford private high school or to send any of your kids to expensive private colleges. I could have easily afforded to send all three of mine to prep high schools and somewhere like Harvard but I told them I’d only pay for a practical major at an in-state public school. So no music, history or art majors, just majors like engineering, accounting, medical or business. They’ve all done well, they have six degrees including three engineering, one medical doctorate, one college educator and they support themselves with no help from us. Total cost of college and high school for us was zero because they earned scholarships, and no student loans for them, except for the doctor. He has some from med school, but being married to another doc I think he’ll make it. In my experience, having hired dozens of people, nobody cares where you went to school. They only care if you have the degree, if it is in something useful in the workplace and if you know how to show up for work on time.

    • Reply Lisa M |

      Glad your kids are successful but this just makes me sad. We need historians and artists in the world too, not just engineers and doctors.

      • Reply Kate |

        I so wholeheartedly agree with you Lisa. Of course nobody should be overwhelmed with debt for an impractical degree, but I think sometimes we lose sight of the good of education. I know it’s a luxury but I hope to make good choices now so my daughter can have whatever education she’s fulfilled by without too much stress.

  • Reply Cheryl |

    My question is are you sure it will only be $3000 a year and no hidden costs like books, trips, and fund raising.

    • Reply Cheryl |

      One more question Hope, do most or all of these kids come from homes with money? Will your daughter feel left out when there are expensive trips and doing things you just can’t afford?

  • Reply Laura |

    Doing best by your kids is giving them a financially secure home. You are in debt and just keep adding more bills. Agree with Cheryl above, count on hidden costs. My niece goes to private school and their last field trip was $100. Sounds like you’ve already made up your mind though, so good luck.

    • Reply Lisa M |

      I think that if Hope can come up with the money, she should do it. Who knows what kind of doors it could open for the future? Yes, all parents are required to do is give kids a safe home, but if the opportunity rises to offer more, even while in debt, the I think it is worth it.

  • Reply Cwaltz |

    I’m afraid to ask where the $1500 due in August(or the second installment 4 months later) is going to come from. Your last budget had $800 to saving s following the car loss but that was before your student loans repayment came due and you started paying $300 a month more for that. After repayment that leaves you $500 a month in unbudgeted money. You lose Sea Cadet contribution to insurance this month adding $100+ to your side of the equation for that. Where do all of these changes to the budget leave you? Are you back to the margins again where you are each month one financial disaster away from relying on credit or having to decide between robbing Peter to pay Paul? I know you want your kids to have nice things. Most parents do. My question remains…..can you afford them and where does the money to pay for them come from?

    • Reply Ellen |

      I have mostly been a silent reader over the years, but have often wondered where much of her extra funds come from. I think we aren’t given the full story and she is helped more than what she likes to admit. But that’s the wonder of the internet, you can make people see you the exact way you portray yourself.

      • Reply Hope |

        My “extra” funds as you mentioned come from me working…as a contractor my income varies greatly. In addition to regular monthly contracts, I also pick up extra project (website design) almost monthly. This has been a very good year for business.

        And who exactly would be helping me?

  • Reply Jen |

    I know I’m talking to a wall here, but this is yet another very poor decision. There are other, far cheaper ways to gain a better educational experience than sending your kid to private school. I admire you wanting to give your children the best, but the best thing you can do for them is provide them with a stable and financially secure home. You have yet to do that.

  • Reply Reece |

    Can we see an updated budget with real numbers? I’d like to see how this is going to work for you, financially.
    If she doesn’t take the bus will you have to buy the car to take her to school? If you have to pay for tuition where is that money going to come from? I also have some concerns about taking on another large payment when you just seem to be getting your feet under you again.

  • Reply Andrea |

    I’m not as opposed to this as some of the other comments, but I would think that a junior/senior in high school could be expected to contribute financially to the extra cost if this is a decision driven primarily by them. I know, tiny town might limit job opportunities–but there’s got to be something (dog walking, babysitting, McDonalds) where she can make a little bit to help offset costs.

    Also, I would check if the school has a uniform closet. My high school had uniforms and we could purchase lightly used ones for half price. My daughter’s public school has uniforms and the PTA holds a uniform swap where people can donate/take uniforms. They always have far more than they can give away.

    • Reply Jazz |

      I agree with you completely. I don’t think this is a terrible idea because if she’s truly gifted, this new school may offer much better future opportunities than her small-town school. But I think Hope needs to truly think through the execution. I would also expect Princess to contribute, and would like to see an updated budget from Hope with all these changes that have cropped up.

      FWIW, my last 2 years of high school were living at a gifted school 5 hours away. We couldn’t necessarily afford it either, but my mom did what she could to get me there, and without it, my life would be drastically different.

      • Reply Jen From Boston |

        I agree. I was also one of the smart kids in school. Mom began sending me to private schools in 6th grade because She worried the public school wouldn’t be a good fit for me. I started out at a private day school, but then they recommended I go to a boarding school because I would have better opportunities there. So my last 3 years were spent as a boarder at a school 3 hours from home. Mom took out a loan the first year, and after that I qualified for 90% financial aid.

        Was it a good financial decision? Short-term, no. Medium-term, likely not. But long term? Going to that school gave me a really good education, and it made it easier for me to get into a top university. I graduated with an impractical degree (Sociology), but I am doing well in IT and the only debt I have is my mortgage.

  • Reply Misti |

    Are there any other children in the area who attend this school? Would a car pool be viable, even if to the Walmart to meet the bus. when does princess turn 16? would the plan be for her to drive herself to school at that time? Also, is there any option for you to work/volunteer at the school and maybe get a break on the remaining tuition?

    • Reply Hope |

      That’s a great idea. Princess knows of 2. And I’m sure when school starts we will find out more.
      Car pooling is definitely something I will look into then!

  • Reply Kerry |

    So your daughter wants to stay in the same school with her friends which is why you can’t move and why she didn’t want to do community college classes BUT now she wants to go to a private school in the larger town with a commute and new people? What gives? Why are you always switching plans?

    • Reply Hope |

      It’s certainly not a larger town, it’s on the side of a mountain with no real town nearby.
      And she is not leaving her friends, they are over all the time and all support this decision.
      This was not me switching plans, this was Princess evaluation her future plans and what would best get her where she wants to go. In fact, when she mentioned it, I was shocked, didn’t see it coming at all. But after her explanation, I support her 100%.

  • Reply Cynthia |

    Some really valid points all around! As an outsider, you can’t afford it, public school is fine etc. As a parent, I would probably find a way, on the condition that this is it for 2 years. As others have mentioned, she will probably be very out of place. Other kids will have new everything, often. How will she feel taking the bus when her peers drive themselves in a BMW while chatting on the newest iPhone? If she can handle the social aspect, this could be a real opportunity for her. I would also use this time to align expectations for college/parental support. Side note-regardless of the reasons, if I spent $3000+ per year on education for my only daughter, the sons who had to buy everything for themselves might start to feel some serious resentment so think of how you will approach that.

    • Reply Hope |

      This school was actually founded by a foundation to give kids in the North Georgia area a way to get an exceptional education and has a very well funded endowment that makes it possible for qualified kids to go with minimal financial burden. She will certainly not be the only child there with as much or more financial aid.

      And I can’t say this enough, Princess is a truly exception kid in that she is comfortable in her skin, with her story and doesn’t feel the need to compete with anyone when it comes to material possessions. She’s just that kid. So I don’t worry about her feeling out of place.

      As for her brothers…they adore their sister and would help pay the tuition themselves if I let them. I appreciate your point of view, but it’s truly not how our family works. None of my kids feel like I put the others above them…I have helped out each in their own way, in their own need. And they know that…firmly know that.

      • Reply Jen From Boston |

        Glad to hear the school was founded to serve those who are smart and able as opposed to those who are wealthy. I think that makes a big difference. Also, speaking as someone who isn’t from money it was worthwhile for me to go to school with those who are wealthy (some incredibly so). It was also worthwhile for me to go to school with those who had far, far less than I did. It got me out of my small community and I could meet more diverse people and learn that, in the end, we are people, not our bank accounts.

  • Reply Sue |

    As someone who wanted so badly to do well in school and has no parental support at ALL, I support you standing behind your daughter to help her succeed in life.

    • Reply Cwaltz |

      I don’t know all the details to this decision but I don’t think just because your kids attend a public school that it means you aren’t academically supporting your child. The reality is there are plenty of parents out there that send their kids to a publicly funded school who want their kids to succeed too. I am trying to picture what Hope’s new budget looks like when “car savings” of $800 is eaten up by student loan repayment ( $300 a month increase), increased costs and decreased contributions from Sea Cadet ($100 “rent” + decrease to $307 in contributions to bills) and now around $3600 in private\dual enrollment costs due within the next six months for Princess and History Buff. I know she said she got travel vouchers and thought that would help her travel category but even almost eliminating that part of the budget will not yield the $3600 that will be due between now and December. I guess I might feel better if I thought she had a good buffer of savings but her last accounting had that at something like $1800 for emergencies. She definitely needs a budget overhaul because it’s no longer I have to come up with $610 for tuition and books for History Buff in the fall. Now it’s I need to find $2100 for fall and will need $1500 again right around Christmastime. I’m stressing out reading this and it isn’t even my budget.

      • Reply drmaddog |

        I thought dual-enrollment at the community college was a wonderful way for Hope to support her children. Earning college credits for no/minimal cost while finishing high school – show them an alternative way to get college funded. But yeah. private school.

        • Reply Hope |

          She will continue with dual enrollment through the Private School AND during next summer. Her final summer before she graduates.

          • drmaddog |

            Excellent. I think that is one of the very best things she could do to help herself out with college.

  • Reply drmaddog2020 |

    So. In your very last post, you had enough to buy a decent car but decided you didn’t want to spend money on that, so you devised a convoluted way to use your son’s car at below market rental rates while he is placed in a very precarious legal position. But today you’ve got the money to send your daughter to private school. Cool.

    • Reply Hope |

      I didn’t say I didn’t have enough to buy a car…I said I decided not to buy a car. There is a difference.

      • Reply drmaddog |

        okay. so you decided not to buy a car because of whatever. the remainder of my comment stands.

  • Reply Angie |

    I think you should go for it (and I am always chiming in to say no with your plans!). With the questionable high spending in the past on sports It would show your kids a pretty poor example to say no to schooling (after you’ve endured the entire process) when a year ago you were spending way more than $250/month on sports. I would maybe think of having her get a PT job or rest of the summer job to save up and pay for extracurriculars.

    If you had to pay the full tuition I would say no way. But with all the scholarships and your business picking up it seems doable. However, if you’re planning on using Sea Cadets car for commuting back and forth… I strongly think you need to buy the car off of him ASAP.

    Any chance you could move nearby the new school since your landlord wants to sell anyway?

    • Reply Hope |

      I agree, if it were anymore than the $3,000 there is no way I could pull it off. But I am very comfortable with the cost for this year…with no additional debt. And am confident she will qualify for similar help for her senior year based on performance, etc.

      The cost of moving at this time just doesn’t seem worth it.

  • Reply Katie |

    I’m happy for your daughter, this sounds like a tremendous opportunity. However, I really don’t know if we’ll ever see you get out of debt. You haven’t begun to pay off your student loans, and your kids are becoming college-aged. I’d like to see an update that compares where you began to where you are now, because this is feeling like a never-ending slog.

    • Reply Hope |

      That’s a great idea. I will do a first debt update compared to now post soon. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Reply SMW |

    I think Princess will thrive. All 4 of my nieces/nephews go to private high school with tuition in the ballpark you stated. So far only 1 has gotten an almost full-ride scholarship for his next 4 years. The fact that her tuition is only $3K, is a definitely no brainer for someone as academically gifted as she is. There will be additional expenses – you can count on it. And be sure to check to see if they have a “uniform exchange” – as many of the private schools do. It’s definitely a way to save in that area. I’ll be looking forward to hearing how it goes for her. I’m excited for her. Her future is bright! I’ll be praying that you can financially handle the next 2 years of her tuition. Can you do a side-gig of some kind? I do ebay & just the last 60 days have made close to $1,000! There are ways out there you can make additional $$!

  • Reply Nan |

    No AP classes at her present high school? My HS grandsons are both gifted and will graduate with many college credits. Has she taken standardized tests like ACT and SAT and scored very high? Surely there are other kids at her HS who do very well in school. I don’t think you can afford private school without going into more debt. Also I was wondering about volleyball- will she still play?

    • Reply Hope |

      Volleyball is one of the reasons for the transfer. The current school did not have a true volleyball coach, does not do any recruiting and so on. Princess wants to play and is talented enough to play volleyball in college. The new school will give her a better chance of being seen and recruited. If she had not chosen to transfer, we had already (she and I) that she would play for a homeschool team elsewhere which would have come with an additional cost and been a logistics nightmare.
      She is currently working out 8 hours a week with the homeschool team in preparation for the season and tryouts.
      And finally, I will not accrue anymore debt is paying for her tuition or uniforms…not buying a car at this time assures this.

      • Reply Nan |

        That’s great- you never mentioned the volleyball being a plus. My daughter’s sister-in-law had a full scholarship to a private college for volleyball. She was red shirted her freshman year but ended up playing a later and getting her BA in 4 years. She did have to pay some room and board. Ps she’s 6’1. How tall is Princess?

        • Reply drmaddog |

          Word. I played volleyball in school and wanted to in college. Then I saw the entire female team at the state university was comprised of women who were at least 6’0″. one alternate was 5’11”. My 5’8″ self’s first thought was ‘where the heck did they get all these amazonians??’ The second was ‘welp. I guess I won’t be playing volleyball in college.”

  • Reply Shanna |

    As someone who has had 2 kids recruited for two different sports for college, please know that the actual “full ride” scholarship is more of a unicorn than most people understand. Only D-1 programs give actual full scholarships (a lot of the D 2 are academic or merit money as well, not actually athletic). D-2 has some money and D-3 does not give athletic money (merit or academic that can be packaged in but not athletic per se). If you are D-1 material, you better be over 6 feet tall, super athletic, and likely on a high level travel team receiving college attention already. Next, if you do receive an athletic scholarship they are not guaranteed, injury or loss of interest and you are on the hook for tuition at a school you may not have normally been willing/able to pay for. Having been through and around this process twice now at a high level, I just worry so much about people who don’t understand how it works and “count” on it as an option. Please do your homework on athletic recruiting. On a positive note, her academic achievements will make her stand out to coaches, so make sure she lists her GPA and test scores on all her recruiting info. My advice is she chose schools she is interested in attending and work on recruitment there, not try to fit in at schools that she may be able to play. A lot of kids tend to go to any school who will let them play, then leave when they realize they hate the school, the town, or don’t want to play any more. Your school athletic director should be able to help her with the recruiting process. College ID camps are another way she can be seen by multiple colleges and get honest feedback as to her ability in a bigger and more competitive arena.

  • Reply Megan |

    To me, this is exactly the kind of situation that you take a debt journey to work toward. Will it delay your date for being totally debt free? Sure. But it sounds like you are making an educated choice to do that with your daughter and for the benefit of your daughter. There could have easily been a time when finances didn’t allow this but you have worked hard to get to a place where it is possible. I think it is a context situation that people can lose sight of when they focus only on the bigger goal. Sometimes situations come up that are worth the change of timeline for a debt-free life and it sounds like you have made the choice with her that you can feel best about.

    • Reply Rrr |

      Educated choice? Hope has not made any decisions toward getting out of debt. She only makes more poor choices and justifies them. If this was an isolated decision, it would be easier to give her a pass.

So, what do you think ?