The 10 Cheapest States for Day Care

So you did your research, filled out applications and survived the interview process. Congratulations! Your child is off to the best day care in town. (Yes, day care is now this involved. It certainly wasn’t like that when we were kids!)

But with this accomplishment comes a seriously hefty price tag. The Economic Policy Institute recently released data about child care costs in the U.S. that found 33 states, plus Washington D.C., have day care facilities that charge more than college tuition for a four-year public school. That’s mind-blowing, especially for families with more than one kid.

Fortunately, some states’ child care won’t set parents back more than the cost of a mortgage. Using annual child care cost data from the Economic Policy Institute’s study, along with their stats on annual housing, we’ve listed 10 of them here.

10. Oklahoma

Annual child care costs: $6,788

With the average annual cost of housing at slightly more than $8,200 in Oklahoma, child care costs 17.2% less than average rent in the state.

9. Wyoming

Annual child care costs: $6,541

Wyoming parents face child care costs around $2,785 more per year than the cost of in-state tuition at a local college.

8. South Carolina

Annual child care costs: $6,475

Sending your little one off to child care in the Palmetto State costs around $70 less than in Wyoming, but it will still take about 12% of an average family’s income.

7. Kentucky

Annual child care costs: $6,294

In Kentucky, families look at around $525 of their annual salary going to child care each month — and that’s just for one child.

6. Arkansas

Annual child care costs: $5,995

In Arkansas, minimum-wage workers dropping their little one off for the day would need to work full-time for 19 weeks straight just to pay off the costs of child care. (For more tips on saving without feeling miserly, go here.)

5. Tennessee

Annual child care costs: $5,857

The average cost of housing in the Volunteer State is just more than $8,600 annually, which means caring for a child costs 67.8% of rent in the state.

4. Louisiana

Annual child care costs: $5,747

Parents working to pay for expenses like child care would need to earn minimum wage for 20 weeks on a full-time basis in order to pay for one year of child care — and the costs would still take more than 10% of their income.

3. South Dakota

Annual child care costs: $5,661

While annual housing costs in South Dakota ($8,120) are just $400 more than the average cost of in-state tuition, child care is right up there. In fact, care for one child can take almost 10% of a family’s income. 

2. Alabama

Annual child care costs: $5,637

Although it has one of the lowest price tags in the nation, Alabama still sees residents facing child care costs that are 33.7% less than in-state tuition at a local four-year college. (Read up on how to pay for college without creating a mountain of debt here.)

1. Mississippi

Annual child care costs: $4,822

As the state with the lowest child care costs, Mississippi still sees parents pay around $400 each month to send their little ones to child care.

To think these numbers are tied to the cost of sending toddlers to preschool seems ridiculous, but to put it in perspective, Washington D.C., has the most expensive preschool costs in the nation, at $22,631 per year. Massachusetts has the second-most expensive costs for preschool, at $17,062 per year.

The numbers don’t lie — paying for child care can get expensive and some parents who want the best for their kids may even overextend themselves financially. Just remember — maxing out credit cards or taking on debt to pay for child care can seriously damage your credit. You can see how your credit card balances are impacting your credit scores for free on

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: diego_cervo

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