Every parent knows that hiring a tutor can be a great help for your child’s academic career. One on one tutoring can be a great supplemental support to students, helping them improve study skills, complete assignments, and prepare for exams.
However, many parents quickly drop the idea after looking at the price of tutoring.
And that’s a pity - private tutoring is often the best thing for struggling students to find the key to academic success. The best tutors will sit with learners one to one to create an individualized maths or science plan that tackles their weaknesses and will help them succeed in school.
So how can you afford private tutoring in-home for your son or daughter without having to tighten the metaphorical belt?
Don’t worry, there are several different options to afford one on one tutoring and supplemental instruction that we’ll be explaining in the next few lines.
How much does an hour of private tutoring really cost?
Did you know that the cost of private tutoring will vary enormously depending on the subject?
Test preparation, a math tutor and a yoga teacher will charge different amounts. A home tutor to help you prep for the GMAT will almost certainly cost more than peer tutoring. And if that works out in your favor, so much the better.
However, the harder it is to find a tutor for a specific subject, the higher the cost is likely to be.
In 2016, a survey from Superprof identified the average costs for an hour’s lessons in different subjects. Here were the results:
- An hour with a sports coach costs about $40
- Music classes vary depending on the instrument but are generally around $35 ($31 for a piano class and $39 for voice lessons).
- Next, there were art classes - photography was about $29 per class
- Academic tutoring varies depending on the subject, but is generally between $25-35, depending on whether you need a math, reading, algebra, or physics tutor.
And of course, all of these are only prices for private tutoring at home.
Some other forms of academic support to discover:
- Online tutoring and classes could be free or require a subscription fee (anywhere from $20-80)
- Group classes are often held at learning centers and aren’t too expensive. You’ll often pay $100-200 a month for two hours of classes a week. (but it’s worth asking at your local learning center to check their local prices for tutoring).
- Of course, it’s also possible for you to hire a professional teacher, whether they are a math professor, French tutor, or biology tutor.
It’s also worth noting that prices for tutors vary widely throughout the country. The hourly cost of tutoring is much less in Houston than in New York City.
And if you’ve hired a tutor who lives far away from your house, you may end up paying more to cover their travel costs.
All of these factors are worth keeping in mind when you get in touch with a professional tutor, whether you’re looking for an in-home tutor, tutor online, or someone for SAT prep.
Whether you want to help your child prepare for high school, or ace their standardized tests and get the right grades for an ivy league college, it’s generally a good idea to find a private tutor who doesn’t live too far away for some academic support and help with homework.
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Different kinds of private tutors and methods of payment
Depending on what type of tutor you hire in order to ensure your child’s academic success, the way you pay them might also vary.
The different types of private tutors:
As you know, there are 3 main types of academic tutoring:
- academic tutoring through a learning center or private company
- academic tutoring with a professional teacher
- academic tutoring from a private individual
There are many different learning centers offering tutoring services. Huntington Learning Center, Sylvan Learning Center, and Kumon Math & Reading are some of the largest tutoring companies nationwide.
Learning centers will generally require you to sign a contract that details all the administrative what-ifs in hiring a tutor.
Then there are private tutors who come to your house, and here it is slightly tricky - if they have registered themselves as a company, then they are contractors and you are their client. You don’t need to worry about social security or Medicaid for them.
However, if someone is employed full-time by you, or if you control the work they do and how they do it, then they are an employee and you should be withholding social security and Medicaid, as well as your own share of contributions. This holds no matter how you’re paying the tutor, whether in cash, check, or bank transfer.
Help available to cover private tutoring fees
If you’ve hired on an English tutor or found someone to help your son or daughter with geometry, whichever way you have hired them, there’re unfortunately no tax deductions or other government aid.
However, if your tutor is also providing childcare, then you can claim back up to 35% of the first $3000 spent through the child care tax credit.
There are also many different organizations and volunteer tutors who might be working locally, or partnered directly with your child’s school. To find out what might be available in your area, it’s worth inquiring directly with your child’s school, as well as your local library and rec center.
Whether it’s to help a child dive deeper into a subject that interests them or to help increase their work ethic and motivation at school, there are charities and organizations serving a wide range or ages and needs. Some run intensive programs during summer vacation, while others tutor children after school or run year-round activities. There are often no tutoring or activity fees at all, or they might just be a small token amount.
It’s also worth checking out what options are available locally and what might be offered by your state and town. Talk to the people at town hall and any other local centers to see what academic support (or scholarships) are offered locally.
Getting a tax deduction for your child’s tutor
So long as your child’s tutor is also providing child care services so you can work, you can claim up to 35% of what you pay them as a child care tax deduction.
How to claim a tax deduction for an academic tutor
Unfortunately, there is no formal tax credit for any form of tutoring or academic tutoring, besides preschool. Unless, of course, your child has a medical condition and a doctor has prescribed tutoring as part of their treatment. Looking at those two categories, most academic tutoring will probably fall into a no-tax-break zone.
However, there is a tax break for child care expenses. You can claim up to 35% of the first $3000 spent on one child under 13, or $6000 for two. The services you can claim here are pretty broad, so long as they allowed you to work (you must be in full-time work, looking for work, or in education in order to claim the credit).
Anyone who watched your child counts, so you can claim after-school programs, babysitters, cooks, cleaners, nannies, or housekeepers. You can also claim for math tutors, reading teachers, or foreign language tutors, whether you paid them in cash, credit card or check. It doesn’t make a difference.
Making sure you’re staying on the right side of the law
Whether you’ve decided to hire a college student, retired teacher, or physics expert to serve as your child’s tutor, the legalities are the same.
If you’ve hired them directly and control their work and how they do it, they count as a household employee and you should both be paying social security and Medicaid contributions.
Thankfully, this only kicks in after you’ve paid cash wages of $2000 or more (this is current as of 2017, but it changes regularly so is always worth checking in with the IRS for any threshold updates.
Above $2000, “you generally must withhold 6.2% of social security and 1.45% of Medicare taxes (for a total of 7.65%) from all cash wages you pay to that employee. You also must pay your share of social security and Medicare taxes, which is also 7.65% of cash wages.” According to IRS guidance.
Cash wages isn’t just money you pay in cash but includes anything, like checks or money order too.
You don’t need to do this if a household employee is 18 or under and working in your household is not their full-time occupation (ie, if they’re still a student).
Don’t worry, in this case, a tutor is in the same category as a babysitter, so it shouldn’t be anything new for you.
However, it’s worth keeping in mind throughout the year so you don’t have an unexpected surprise when you go to file in April.
And now parents, you know everything there is to know about the costs, tax credits, and declarations you need to make when hiring an academic tutor.
It’s well worth the small extra cost to give your child the support they need to regain their self-confidence and excel at school.
So don’t wait, go find an academic tutor in your area who can help your child with basic reading schools, advanced calculus tutoring, trigonometry, or test prep. Whatever the need, you’ll be able to ensure that they can excel academically.