Hard to Believe: In Most States, Child Care Is Now More Expensive Than College Tuition

As both parents are more frequently working outside the home in American households today, affordable child care is becoming a necessity. But while affordable child care is more necessary than ever, it also may be more out of reach than ever. A new report from the Economic Policy Institute finds that the price of child care places it out of reach for millions of families. One of the top findings of the report is that in 33 states including the District of Columbia, child care is now more expensive than four-year public university tuition.


The think tank also constructed model family budgets all over the country, in order to estimate average child care costs for a variety of families. They found that families with particularly young children have it worst, “when 10 family budgets in various areas are reconstructed to include two-parent, two-child families with an infant and a 4-year-old (instead of a 4-year-old and an 8-year-old), child care ranges from 19.3 percent to 28.7 percent of total family budgets. This compares with a range of 11.8 percent to 21.6 percent for families with a 4-year-old and an 8-year-old.”

The situation is particularly rough for minimum wage workers, especially in the northeast and Washington, D.C., as the report illustrates. The think tank also created an interactive tool that estimates the amount of money a two-parent, two-child family needs in order to afford quality child care. 

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