Day Care Now Costs More Than College?!

Day Care Now Costs More Than College?!

When people consider the costs of raising children, one specter looms large: College. And with the price of a four-year education rapidly approaching what a home costs, parents have good cause to be concerned over those future bills.

But recent data reveals that there’s an even larger expense that hits parents, and much sooner—day care costs.

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A recent survey by Child Care Aware America compared the annual cost of day care for an infant to in-state tuition and fees at public colleges. Staggeringly, day care costs exceeded that of tuition in 31 out of 50 states, the Washington Post reports. New York had the largest gap between costs, with a year of day care costing over $8,000 more than a year of college. Alternatively, in South Carolina, college tuition costs $4,000 more than infant day care.

One of the things that is most problematic about exorbitant day care costs is time. When a child is born, parents have close to two decades to prepare for their college educations. Some new parents only have a matter of weeks to figure out how they'll pay for child care.

A new Pew Research Center study found that parents are combating outrageous day care costs by avoiding them all together and having one parent remain at home. In 2012, 29% of mothers didn't return to work after their children were born, compared with 23% in 1999. Dishearteningly, the data suggests that most of this growth is accounted for by low- and middle-income mothers, who may not be able to afford day care.

RELATED: The Great 'Lean Out'?

Financial planners often tell parents to prioritize retirement savings over college savings for their kids, citing the fact that scholarships and subsidized loans exist for college but not for retirement. But where does child care fit into your savings equation? Here are some ways to help lower some of those costs.

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