The Crazy Cost of Childcare in Every State
Fifty years ago, getting married at 20 and popping out a few cute kids was the norm. Today, that’s almost inconceivable. It’s not that modern 20-somethings don’t love kids. It’s just that it’s getting increasingly unaffordable to actually raise them.
In 2019, more than 60 percent of married couples with children included two working parents, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For the average family, it’s unaffordable for one parent to stay home, even if they want to. For those making minimum wage, however, it’s barely worth it to work. The cost of putting a child in daycare can easily suck up more than half their annual income.
Experts at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services say that to be truly affordable, childcare shouldn’t cost more than 7 percent of a family’s income, which for most, isn't an option in the U.S. It’s not all doom and gloom, though! Since daycare and preschool costs usually only span about four years for each child, the drain on your wallet won’t last forever. Exactly how expensive is it, you ask? Let’s find out.
Childcare Prices from A to Z
The following figures are based on the most recent stats available from the Economic Policy Institute and include all 50 states as well as Washington, D.C. The preschool tuition listed is for private schools, as many states don’t offer public preschool.
Interestingly, the cheapest schools are often religiously affiliated, while the most expensive focus on teaching second languages and assisting those with special needs. Read on to see how your state matches up!
Despite being on the low end of childcare expenses, childcare in Alabama still costs nearly 12 percent of the average family’s annual income. It costs approximately 61 percent of the average in-state college tuition, and 65 percent of the average annual housing cost.
The least expensive preschool tuition is Prichard Prep, at an easy, breezy $2,150, while the most expensive comes out to a whopping $18,900 at Greengate School for Dyslexia. While it promises amazing help for kids with dyslexia, that’s certainly a daunting price tag!
Alaska is one of 33 states in which daycare expenses are actually greater than that of college tuition. In Alaska, the average rate is 40.4 percent more than in-state tuition at a public university.
The least expensive preschool in the state is Far North Christian School, ringing in at an affordable $2,800. The most expensive is Pacific Northern Academy, with a tuition of $18,468.
In Arizona, infant care costs slightly more than college tuition and just 8.4 percent less than the average annual housing cost. For a minimum-wage worker, that’s nearly 48 percent of a family’s income.
The least expensive preschool in Arizona is Ahwataukee Foothills Montessori, with a refreshing tuition of $1,125. The most expensive? All Saints’ Episcopal Day School, with a startling $17,475 price tag.
Infant care costs a mere 15.8 percent less than in-state tuition in Arkansas, and about 20 percent less than the average annual housing cost. While still very expensive, the cost of childcare is somewhat more affordable in Arkansas than in many other states.
The preschool with the lowest tuition rate is Maranatha Baptist Christian School, with a tuition of only $2,000, while The New School charges a high rate of $11,500. Still crazy expensive, but not as wild as in some states like...
Childcare in the Golden State is the third most expensive out of all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Daycare costs $8,925 more per year than in-state college tuition. On average, childcare for a family with one preschooler and one infant would cost $28,420. And for a minimum-wage worker, childcare costs add up to almost 68 percent of a family’s annual income.
The least expensive preschool in California is SAGE Academy at only $1,075. But the most expensive is Ojai Valley School, with tuition higher than the cost of a new car at $45,500!
Another state where parents can expect a massive bill, Colorado currently ranks No. 8 on the list of most expensive infant care. With infant care costing upwards of $15,325 annually and preschool costing $12,390, only about 6 percent of Colorado residents can comfortably afford daycare.
The least expensive preschool in Colorado, Willows Child Learning Centers, costs $1,011 per year. The most expensive? Boulder Country Day costs about 20 times more at $22,100.
Ranked fifth most expensive, Connecticut childcare costs about 11 percent more than typical rent. With two kids in daycare, that figure rises to 51 percent more, at about $28,232 per year.
The least expensive preschool in Connecticut is Litchfield Montessori School, with a tuition of only $1,550. Alternatively, if you’d like to trade the down payment on a new house for one year of preschool, try Indian Mountain School. The annual damage there for just one child is $59,610.
In Delaware, childcare costs 16.7 percent less than the average annual housing cost — for only one child, of course. For an infant and a preschooler, an average family can expect to spend almost 29 percent of their annual income on childcare.
Delaware’s least expensive preschool is Milford Christian School, with a tolerable $4,000 price tag, but the most expensive is much less so. Tower Hill School has a tuition of $30,500.
In Florida, daycare costs 107.3 percent (yes, you read that right) more per year than in-state college tuition. For two kids, a typical family would need to spend more than 30 percent of their income on childcare.
Hope Christian School has the cheapest tuition in the state, charging only $1,500. Meanwhile, Miami Country Day School costs $32,170 per year.
Can you see the pattern? Childcare is not cheap! At least in Georgia, it costs a little less than rent — 25 percent less, to be exact. If you’re making minimum wage, however, that still adds up to almost 80 percent of your annual salary. For the typical family, it’s a more manageable 15.5 percent.
The least expensive preschool in Georgia is Decatur Montessori, with a $1,042 tuition. The highest price tag trophy goes to Darlington School, with a tuition of $51,280.
Hello, Honolulu! In Hawaii, putting one kiddo in daycare costs $4,022 more than a year of in-state college. If you’re making minimum wage, it would take you from January to August to cover childcare for just one toddler!
The least expensive preschool tuition is at Christ the King School, with a tuition of $3,800. The highest tuition rate is $22,000 at Hanahauoli School.
Daycare in Idaho is neck and neck with skyrocketing tuition rates. More affordable than in some states, though, the typical family in Idaho can expect to spend about 13 percent of their income on daycare for one child. However, that’s still almost double that 7 percent standard of affordability.
Idaho’s River of Life Christian preschool only costs $2,400. Nearby Community School, on the other hand, costs $28,000.
Illinois holds its place on the national daycare expense list at No. 11. Only about 9 percent of Illinois families can afford childcare comfortably. That’s not shocking, considering care for two kids costs around $24,000.
The least expensive preschool tuition in Illinois can be found at Creative Montessori Learning Center, with a $1,040 tuition. The most expensive school in the state is British International School of Chicago-South Loop, with a tuition of $30,000.
Dang, Indiana! On minimum wage, a parent would need to work full-time for almost the entire year (or 43 weeks) to cover the cost of childcare for a single infant. For the average family, that’s 22 percent of their average income. For two kids, the bill comes out to more than $22,000.
Indiana’s St. John the Baptist School is only $1,185. The state’s most expensive preschool is The Orchard School, with a tuition of $19,931. While, yes, that's expensive, it's at least a little easier to manage than some of the other costs we’ve seen.
Childcare in Iowa costs about 12 percent more than the state’s average annual housing cost and 18 percent more than a year of public college. For two kids, the cost is around $19,000 per year.
Marquette Catholic Schools PK-12 charges a tuition of only $1,560, while the most expensive tuition in the state rings in at $32,900 for kiddos at Scattergood Friends School.
In Kansas, childcare for two kids costs about 50 percent more than the average annual housing cost. In-state public college costs an average of $2,485 less than annual daycare. On minimum wage, that adds up to 39 weeks of work to cover care for one child.
The least expensive preschool is Bible Christian Academy, with a tuition of $2,450. On the other end of the scale is Cair Paravel Latin School, with a tuition of $7,668 — less than even the average tuition cost in more expensive states. Kudos to Kansas!
In Kentucky, infant care costs about $4,000 less than in-state college tuition and 27 percent less than rent. For a typical family, daycare costs about 12 percent of their annual salary — still higher than the recommended 7 percent, but more affordable than most states.
Kentucky’s Valley Christian Academy costs only $1,650, while the Louisville Collegiate School is more than $24,000 a year.
Childcare in Louisiana takes up nearly 15 percent of the average family’s income if they have one child. For two children, that figure rises to nearly 28 percent. Caring for one infant would cost a minimum-wage worker about half their annual salary for a single child.
At the cheapest preschool in the state, St. Mary’s Assumption School, the tuition is only $2,365. At the state’s priciest, McGehee School, the tuition is a less-than-ideal $20,000.
In Maine, it costs about the same amount for one year’s tuition at an in-state public college as it does to send a child to one year of daycare. It costs only about 5 percent less than the state’s average annual housing cost.
Living Waters Christian School is a mere $1,067, but that’s far from typical. On the ultra-high-end, Berwick Academy charges upwards of $40,000 a year.
With infant care costing 65 percent more than in-state public college tuition, Maryland ranks No. 7 for having the most expensive childcare in the States. Care for one infant costs nearly 18 percent of the typical family’s income.
The winner of Maryland’s least expensive daycare contest goes to A Child’s Place, running in at $1,150. Green Acres School takes the cake for the most expensive, with tuition being $37,970.
Out of all 50 states plus D.C., Massachusetts is the second most expensive for childcare. It costs nearly 64 percent more than in-state college tuition and 31 percent more than the average annual housing cost … and that’s only for one child. For one infant or toddler and one preschooler, Massachusetts parents can expect to shell out about $36,000 each year on childcare.
The least expensive school in the state, Bradford Children’s Center, has a low rate of $2,520. On the other side of the scale is Dedham Country Day School, with a tuition of $34,297.
Childcare in Michigan is 87 percent less than in-state college tuition and slightly higher than the average annual housing cost. For one child, daycare sucks up 19 percent of a median family’s income. With two kids in the house, it costs more than $19,000 a year to have both in full-time care.
The least expensive preschool in Michigan is St. Paul Lutheran School, with a tuition of only $1,200. The most expensive school is The Roeper School, priced at a whopping $27,000 per year.
Perhaps surprisingly, Minnesota climbs the daycare cost charts almost to the top. It ranks fourth most expensive nationwide. In Minnesota, daycare costs almost 31 percent more than the average annual housing cost and 43 percent more than in-state college tuition. To place one toddler and one preschooler in daycare, it would cost an average family 37.4 percent of its annual income.
For a cheaper alternative, Zion Lutheran School charges $1,100 per year. But topping the charts is the International School of Minnesota, with an annual tuition of $19,000.
Say hello to the state none of us could spell in fifth grade. Fortunately for Mississippi residents, childcare is a bit more affordable than it is in most states. It costs 68 percent less than in-state college tuition and almost 60 percent less than the average annual housing cost. For an average family, daycare for one infant takes up less than 12 percent of their annual income.
The least expensive preschool in Mississippi is St. Francis of Assisi School at $3,000 per year. The highest tuition rate in the state is still lower than the average price in most states. Canton Academy came in as the priciest but still only $7,000.
In Missouri, childcare costs about 20 percent more than in-state college tuition, but only 4 percent more than the average annual housing cost. Still, it’s estimated that only 10.6 percent of families in Missouri can comfortably afford infant care for one child. Placing two children in care is even tougher, adding up to just over 29 percent of the average family’s combined salary.
The cheapest Missouri preschool is Camden Christian School, with a tuition of just $1,800. The very specialized Moog Center for Deaf Education, on the other hand, costs almost $25,000 a year.
Montana childcare is pricey, adding up to 40 percent more than in-state college tuition and slightly more than the average annual housing cost. Care for one toddler and one preschooler usually hovers around the $18,000 mark.
At the cheapest preschool in the state, Treasure State Academy, the tuition is only $3,000. At the most expensive, Missoula Int’l School, tuition is almost quadruple the cost at $11,000 a year.
Nebraska is also on the high end of nationwide daycare rates. It typically costs $4,383 more to send a toddler to daycare than it does to attend a local college for a year. It also costs almost 25 percent more than rent. For most families in Nebraska, this rate is a challenge to afford. With two children in the mix, childcare alone would suck up more than 36 percent of their annual income.
Strangely enough, the difference isn’t huge between the most and least expensive preschools in the state. The least expensive, Zion Lutheran School, costs $1,200 per year, while the most expensive costs $4,845.
For Nevada families, childcare costs almost 93 percent more annually than a year of in-state college tuition and only slightly less than rent. For two kids, a toddler or a preschooler, the yearly bill is usually around $20,460.
For a slightly less painful invoice, St. Teresa of Avila Catholic School is only $4,950 a year. The Adelson Educational Campus is nearly four times the price, with a $19,000 tuition.
New Hampshire is one of the few states in which child care is less expensive than in-state college tuition. Sadly, that means that college is expensive, not that daycare is cheap. The typical cost to enroll an infant or toddler and a preschooler in childcare is more than $23,000 a year.
The most expensive preschool in New Hampshire is Hampstead Academy, with a startling rate of $15,000 a year. On the low end of the scale is Exeter Day School, charging a cozy $1,520.
Childcare in New Jersey is the 15th most expensive on this list. For two kids in care, it costs 35.6 percent more than the average annual housing cost, sucking up nearly 27 percent of the average family’s annual salary. For a minimum-wage worker, that figure rises to more than 62 percent.
At Apples & Books Learning Center, preschool is an affordable $1,036 a year. Travel over to Montclair Kimberley Academy, however, and the annual bill for one child rolls in at $40,000.
In New Mexico, one can attend an in-state public college for $1,900 less than it would cost to send one infant to daycare for the year. For one child, daycare costs add up to more than 18 percent of the average family’s income. It would take a minimum-wage worker in the state more than half a year of full-time work to foot the bill!
The least expensive school, Grace Baptist Academy, is only $2,690. The impressive Santa Fe Waldorf School is the most expensive, costing $16,000 a year.
How much does it cost to raise a kid in the Big Apple? A lot. New York is the sixth most expensive state for daycare, costing more than infamously expensive New York rent and nearly $7,500 more than a year of in-state college tuition. For a typical family, it costs about 22 percent of their annual income to send one child to daycare.
The Seed Day Care Center is pretty much aligned with the other low-end prices we’ve seen, with an annual tuition of $1,280. But wait, get this. Quad Preparatory School in New York City costs a cringe-worthy $74,850 a year.
In North Carolina, getting care for an infant costs $2,125 more than a year of in-state college and just slightly less than the average annual housing cost. For two kids, a toddler and a preschooler, an average North Carolina family can expect to alot 33 percent of their annual income for daycare expenses.
The least expensive school, Trinity Baptist Academy, is only $1,850. Meanwhile, at Carolina Day School, tuition is a steep $26,950.
Childcare in North Dakota of all places isn’t cheap either. It costs about 18 percent more than a year of public college and only slightly less than the average annual housing cost. Still, it’s a little more affordable than it is in most states. Care for one child takes up 12.6 percent of the typical family’s income, but still adds up to more than $17,000 a year for two kids.
We couldn’t find much info on preschool tuition prices, but the cheapest preschool in the state is St. John’s Academy, at $2,100 a year.
In Ohio, infant care is actually a little less expensive than college tuition and only slightly more expensive than rent. Average Ohio families can still expect to spend a little more than 30 percent of their income on childcare if they have two kids. For a minimum-wage worker, that figure rises to more than half.
The least expensive preschool in Ohio is Villa Maria Teresa School, at only $1,300. On the high end of the scale is Laurel School, costing an impressive $29,725 for one child.
Planning on going back to school? For just $954 more, you can send your kid to daycare! Oklahoma is one of 33 states in which daycare for an infant or toddler is more costly than a public college education. An average Oklahoma family can anticipate spending nearly 29 percent of their annual income on childcare if they have two kids under the age of 4.
The least expensive option in the state is Rejoice Christian School, at only $2,675 a year. Casady School is about six times as expensive, charging $18,525 for one child to attend.
While Oregon childcare isn’t the most expensive in the U.S., it’s certainly not the least. Holding its place in the top 15, care for one child is more than $10,000 a year. For two kids, the annual bill is usually around $23,700. That would take up over 38 percent of a typical family’s income!
The least expensive preschool in the state is Sonshine Early Learning Center, at only $1,525. On the other side of the scale, Oregon Episcopal School rings in at just over $28,000 a year.
In Pennsylvania, only about 11 percent of families can comfortably afford infant care — one child takes up 17.5 percent of the average family’s income! The bill for two kids in daycare rises to $21,614.
Pennsylvania parents can always send their munchkins to Grace Academy for only $1,170 a year. If you'd prefer to shell out enough cash for a brand-new SUV, though, send them over to The Agnes Irwin School. Tuition there is $39,250 a year.
Another state that cracks the top 15, Rhode Island childcare is crazy expensive. It costs about 12 percent more than in-state, public college tuition and 14 percent more than typical rent. An average family can expect to spend 20.5 percent of their annual income on care for one child or more than 36 percent to cover care for one infant or toddler and one preschooler.
The cheapest preschool in the state is St. Leo The Great Elementary with a $3,700 tuition. Moses Brown School is about 10 times more expensive, at $37,865 a year.
Phew. Let’s take a breather. In South Carolina, childcare is a little closer to being affordable. It costs $5,572 less than public, in-state college tuition and about 68 percent less than the average annual housing cost. It does suck up more than 13 percent of a typical family’s income to place one kiddo in daycare, but it’s still cheaper than in most states. Sending two kids to preschool in South Carolina is less expensive than sending one in California!
The cheapest school in the area is The Goddard School, at $1,100. The most expensive is Ashley Hall School, with a $20,000 tuition.
So far, childcare in South Dakota is the closest we’ve found to being affordable. It’s less expensive than both in-state public college and the average annual housing cost, taking up about 10 percent of the typical family’s annual income for one child. While it’s hard to call that cheap, that’s still less than half the cost of childcare in states like New Jersey and New York.
Of the preschools we found, the average tuition was pretty reasonable, hovering in the $3,000 per year range.
In Tennessee, childcare is a little cheaper than both in-state college tuition and the average annual housing cost. Still, it costs about $16,000 a year to put a toddler and a preschooler into daycare. If you work full time at minimum wage, it’ll take you from January to July to cover one year of care for just one child.
The least expensive Tennessee preschool is the Jesus Only Academy, at $2,340. And no, we’re not kidding about the name. The most expensive is the Lipscomb Academy, which will cost you $21,602 a year.
In Texas, daycare is slightly more expensive than tuition at a public, in-state college and about 20 percent less than the average annual housing cost. Families in Texas can expect to allocate around 16 percent of their annual income to childcare coverage for one kiddo or a little over 27 percent for a toddler and a preschooler.
St. Paul Lutheran Serbin School is an affordable $1,170 a year. For about $28,000 more, kids can move over to the ultra-expensive Parish School.
If you live in Utah, childcare for one kid will set you back about $830 a month — more than college but about 15 percent less than typical Utah rent. For most families, that equates to about 14 percent of their annual income or almost 25 percent for a toddler and a preschooler.
The least expensive school in the state is Iqra Academy of Utah, at only $2,700, while Rowland Hall School is a daunting $24,000 a year.
On the high end of national daycare rates, it costs a typical family about 18 percent of their annual income to enroll one infant or toddler in daycare in Vermont. By that measure, less than 6 percent of families in the area can afford childcare. For two kids, the bill rises to more than $24,000 a year.
The cheapest preschool in the state is Good Shepherd Catholic School, at $3,750. The most expensive, The Grammar School, has tuition four times higher at $15,000 a year.
This is one Top 10 chart we don’t want to land on, but Virginia has done it. Ranked 10th most expensive for daycare on this list, childcare for a toddler or infant and a preschooler costs nearly $25,000 — or 42.5 percent more than housing costs! It would require a minimum-wage worker to turn over almost a full year’s salary to afford a year of infant care.
For an affordable alternative, Southeast Academy charges only $1,155 a year. The elite Green Hedges School costs nearly 30 times that, though, at $30,270.
Just when we thought few states could beat Virginia, Washington’s scurried past. Ranked ninth on this list of most expensive childcare, it costs almost $8,000 more per year to send a child to daycare than to attend a public, in-state college. For a single child, parents can expect to shell out about 20 percent of their income. For two kids, the bill adds up to about $25,600 a year.
Newport Children’s School is pretty manageable, with a tuition of just $1,450. Meanwhile, Washington’s Bertschi School charges $29,360 a year.
The absolute worst place for childcare costs is Washington, D.C., which ranks first on this list for most expensive infant care. It costs a whopping $18,487 (or 321.2 percent) more per year than in-state tuition for a four-year public college.
Preschools in the area were all quite pricey, with most costing more than $10,000 annually. The British International School of Washington, for instance, costs $23,075 to send your two-year-old to full time.
West Virginia daycare costs are pretty average, hovering around 15 percent higher than college tuition expenses and just 4 percent higher than the average annual housing cost. Even then, it’s estimated that less than 11 percent of West Virginia families can comfortably afford daycare. The average cost of sending two kids to daycare is more than $16,000 a year.
The cheapest preschool in the state is Ambassador Christian Academy, with a low tuition of $1,850. The most expensive, The Highland School, costs $20,825 a year.
Another state on the upper half of the childcare chart, Wisconsin is a pretty pricey place to raise kids. It costs about $4,1000 more to send a child to daycare than to afford a year of public, in-state college tuition. It also costs about 20 percent more than typical rent! For an average family, childcare for one infant adds up to more than 18 percent of their annual income and nearly 34 percent for one child in daycare and one in preschool.
The least expensive option is St. John’s Lutheran School, at $1,050 a year. The most expensive is the Brookfield Academy, with tuition being about $16,000.
In Wyoming, childcare costs more than $6,200 more per year than in-state, public college tuition and slightly higher than the average annual housing cost. For the majority of families, that’s unaffordable. Care for two kids costs almost $20,000. A minimum-wage worker would struggle to afford care for just one, with average daycare rates sucking up literally 99 percent of their annual income. Yikes!
While there was little information available about preschools in Wyoming, the average prices ranged from about $2,400 to $6,000, depending on the amount of time you wanted to enroll your child in preschool.