Which costs more: A year in college, or a year in preschool?

Parents of a college student in Montana can expect to shell out between $6,350 – $6,750 a year in college tuition, depending if you’re a Griz or a Bobcat. But parents with a four year old in full-time preschool might be less prepared for the price tag – $7,518 a year, according to a new study from Child Care Aware.

Despite the numerous benefits of pre-kindergarten for both children and the state, Montana is one of only ten states without any state funding for pre-k. Out of these ten states, paying for child care places one of the highest burdens on Montana parents.


With costs higher than that of a year at college, many parents find themselves spending an unrealistic portion of their income on childcare. Those parents that can’t afford it often are forced to leave the workforce or place their children in substandard care. Parents who want or need to work should be able to afford to do so, and children deserve safe and quality childcare.

Early childhood is a critical time in a child’s life. By supporting state-funded pre-k, Montana could improve the lives of not only children, but working parents as well.

If you are interested in learning more about how state funded pre-k could benefit Montana’s budget, economy, and our children, read our report here.

One Response to “Which costs more: A year in college, or a year in preschool?”

  1. I have voters asking me about K-12 education, and just had a kindergarten teacher last night stress the importance of it to me when I knocked on her door.

    Funding for this goes into local businesses, allows parents to earn more, which is money that in turn largely goes right back into those same communities.

    This idea of funding social programs shouldn’t be thought of as a handout – it’s a business stimulus and incentive, and one that gives struggling families hope.

    What’s more, it keeps them in our state. I’m saddened that we and our neighboring states are making so much from our energy resources but giving so little of that back. Perhaps something could be worked out where both sides get more of what they want.

    Greg Strandberg
    Candidate – House District 98

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