I wanted to ask a question that I have often debated for both sides in different settings since my earliest college days. When considering overall value (cost, experience and future accomplishments) is it smarter for families to rent and pay for private school or buy a home and send their children to public schools? Feel free to add your comments and insights. As a parent interested in making the best VALUE based family decisions, this particular choice could theoretically make the difference between having a house of Top 25 students and students The Family An average middle class family consisting of a husband(42), wife (39), son(13) and daughter(11) we will call the McHENRY’s. Current annual earnings total $120,000. The parents both attended “State University” and have decent jobs, not currently affected by the economy. They have decided to move to one of the Top 25 Best Cities in America. Their hope is that their kids get into a Top 25 ranked national college, preferably on a full or partial academic/athletic scholarship. Currently the family has set aside a total of 50% of their monthly income to pay for their housing and educational expenses or roughly $5,000 a month. Academic & Housing Options Option A, Rent + Private School: The family could stay in a great posh neighborhood, “Alexander Hills” and rent a home for $2,000 a month and send their kids to “St. Apostle for the Talented School” with a track record of sending 35% of it’s graduates to Ivy League type schools and over 73% to top 100 colleges. Assuming the kids got accepted, total tuition cost would equal$2400 and rent would equal $2500, leaving the family $100 a month to pay for their kids cell phone bill. The rental home would more than meet their spacing needs with over 3300 square feet of living space, but the parents whom have roughly 5-7 years to build equity and accrue tax deductible interest are pondering if rent would provide better flexibility. Option B, Mortgage + Public School: The McHenry Family also has the option of purchasing a nice home in the Benteley Estates where the mortgage payment would consume about $4200 worth of their allotted $5000 per month. The remaining $800 would be split between a college savings account and hiring an SAT tutor for their kids. Jefferson Middle and Washington High School are both well respected, with the later laying claim to recently graduating the top football player in the state and competitive debate team took 2nd place in the national competition. The high school has sent nearly 10% of all it’s seniors to the state’s best university on or partial scholarships and sent over 70% to four year colleges. Rent vs. Buy: The Wrong Debate. The rent vs. buy argument is usually never an absolute one. Many factors that are based on an individuals needs and circumstances are usually unique and can not be placed in one size fits all box. Arguments such as, Buyers throw their money away for the first five years they own a home, because they simply give money to the bank for the privilege of borrowing money have been made for years. However if the McHenry’s have to move in 3 years or if one of their incomes is lost, their circumstances will surely determine the best fit for their situation. Private vs. Public School: Does Not Matter.
Equally, the private vs. public school debate in most quality communities is a moot one. There are great private schools and there are great public schools. The trick is finding the school that best fits your child’s needs. It’s a good idea to research the schools that interest you and, to get a true picture of the school, visit in person and talk to parents. The VALUE Debate & The Lesson At the heart of each debate it is easy to get caught up on trivial issues like determining which is better private school or public school. Just as futile is attempting to debate the whole rent vs buying argument. Have you ever been in an argument attempting to debate why your religious faith is “better” than your counterparts? The same can be said when attempting to convert your pro-abortion friends into anti-abortion friends, or vice versa. Usually these are not the most productive or fruitful arguments and neither is attempting to lay claim to one side of the presented arguments aforementioned in this article. In a world where we consider VALUE, the hidden determining factor is in selecting the neighborhood and school that has the best possibility for making connections and additions to the family’s network. If the apartment home is in a community where many of the residents attended the universities you want your children to attend, that is the better choice. If the home the McHenry’s decide to send their children to private over public it should be based on the potential relationships to be had amongst the parents of the school. For the McHenry’s having kids at good to great schools is a given and goes a long way torwards placing their children in the best competitive environment beyond high school. But, consider the VALUE of living next door to a famous alum or the relative of a professor on the admissions board; how much more VALUE does that have over sending in an application with no connections and hoping for the best? When considering VALUE based decisions, learn to look beyond popular arguments that have marginal effects over your desired outcome and make choices that allow you to best exploit your desired optimal outcomes.