How On Earth Do Bozeman Area Families Afford Preschool Or Daycare?
It's next to impossible to find an accurate national average cost for full-time preschool, but you'll see numbers ranging from $8k to $15k and the Bozeman area is definitely at the top of that range. High rates, teacher shortages, insane waiting lists, and many closure days (that you'll still pay for) make for a mind-blowing parent experience.
IMPORTANT NOTES: Financials below are strictly factual from local preschool rate sheets as of April 2023. The rates are not guesses, quotes from friends, or anything like that. They're printed rate cards from official local websites. I've decided to not include the specific businesses with their rates so as not to plot one against another.
- A few things you'll notice when shopping around for a preschool in the Bozeman area:
- Rates are hard to find without contacting and touring a location
- "Full Day" doesn't mean a full work day to adults with jobs, but... sometimes it does. It gets very confusing. A school day is much shorter than a work day, but you can pay for additional care time.
- Waitlists can be brutally long. If you're looking for toddler daycare, you might be on a YEAR waitlist. (You do the pregnancy math on that one....) Well-liked preschools also can have months-long wait lists.
- There are LOTS of days off. As in, days you'll pay for but preschool won't be in session. You don't get credit for your child's sick days or family vacations. They still have to staff their facility properly if your kid is there or not.
Bozeman Option 1: 5 Full Days, 7:45-5:30 Monday through Friday is $1155/month plus a processing fee of $275 per family, changed annually. "Tuition is the same every month, and is raised every year." (Something in me appreciated the bluntness and honesty of that statement.)
Bozeman Option 2: This school offers both full-day and half-day enrollment. Full days: 8:15 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Half days: 9:15 a.m.–12:30 p.m. They have early bird drop-off at 8:00 a.m. and after-school care from 3:30–5:15 p.m. (but of course that costs more than the defined "full day").
Bozeman Option 3: A non-refundable deposit of $300.00 is due upon enrollment. The application fee is $50. The registration fee is $100. The annual fee is $400. For infant/toddler care, full-time is 8:30am to 3:30pm 5 days/week, and costs $1625. For preschoolers, full-time is 8:30am to 3:30pm, 5 days/week, and costs $1300 per month.
Bozeman Option 4: 5 Full Days, Daily, M-F, 8:30-3:00 PM is $1225/month. Plus a $75 application fee, an annual $300 registration fee, and a $300 annual materials fee. "It is very likely that tuition will increase each year."
Interestingly, I've chatted with several parents who say the "teacher shortage" has not really affected daycares or preschools. and Montessori schools nearly as much as later learning. Why? Because parents are often willing to work at a local preschool for the tuition break or free tuition. Makes perfect sense.
So, unless you're a parent with the flexibility of working from home, or only need the income of a part-time job...how does preschool work for you? The cost, the hours, the days off, etc. As talented and highly rated as some of our early learning institutions are, it's no surprise that they're in high demand. I just don't understand how an average family pays for it...