Summer vacation — two words that make students and teachers cheer, and parents groan. With a break in school sessions approaching, many parents are scrambling to find child care or activities for the summer break.
Summer camp can be a great way to keep kids occupied — and supervised — while school is out of session. A major problem, though, is figuring out how to pay for your child’s summer camp.
The costs of summer camp can range from $200 to $800 per week for day camps, and as much as $2,000 per week for resident or sleep-away camps, according to the American Camp Association (ACA).
Summer camp likely is a major expense in your family’s budget and it requires careful planning. Here are five options parents should explore when deciding how to pay for summer camp.
1. Seek out summer camp scholarships
Before opening your wallet, seek out summer camp scholarships and other assistance to cover costs. This effort can start with finding the right camp for your child — and your budget.
“Every camp is different,” said Tom Rosenberg, ACA’s president and CEO. The organization’s report says 93% of ACA-accredited camps offer some form of financial aid to help children who have special medical needs or are from low-income families.
The ACA advises parents to contact summer camp programs to inquire about financial aid or scholarships. “The best strategy is to plan ahead,” Rosenberg said. “Check for early registration or scholarship [and] financial aid deadline. Scholarships are typically given prior to the summer camp season.”
2. Pay what you can out of pocket
What if you can’t get a summer camp scholarship or if this free money doesn’t cover the full tuition and other costs? You’ll need to figure out how to pay for your child’s summer camp. It’s time to look at your own family’s resources.
Earmark your savings. If you have some buffer built in your bank account, you could use some of those funds to cover summer camp costs.
Ask for donations. People in your support system probably would love the opportunity to help your child create great memories at summer camp. Ask grandparents, extended family members, friends, or co-workers for donations to send your kid to camp.
Let your child contribute. Adolescents or teens are capable of contributing to the costs of camp. Your kids could tap their personal savings, for instance, or work some side jobs such as babysitting or mowing lawns to raise funds for camp.
With some financial flexibility and creativity, you could find money for camp in your existing budget or generate more funds.
3. Ask about payment plans
Many summer camps provide the option to save a spot for your child with an initial deposit and settle the remaining amount with one or more payments later.
It can be more manageable to pay camp fees in installments rather than all at once. A payment plan also can buy you some time to use the strategies listed above to save or raise more money.
Contact the summer camp you like to inquire about payment plans and determine how they can fit in with your family’s needs and finances.
4. Use tax benefits to help cover day camp costs
Summer camp as a form of child care can be an essential expense for working parents. You potentially can use two kinds of tax benefits to help pay for summer day camps:
Child and dependent care tax credit: This tax benefit lets you write off a portion of child care costs, including day camp for kids below the age of 13, when you file your tax returns. You can write off up to $3,000 worth of child care costs each year for one child or up to $6,000 for two or more children.
Dependent care flexible spending accounts: If your employer offers this kind of flexible spending account (FSA), you can take advantage of the benefit to pay for day camp with your pretax dollars. The annual contribution limits for dependent care FSAs are $5,000 for single filers and for married taxpayers filing jointly, and $2,500 for a married taxpayer filing separately.
Avoid borrowing while deciding how to pay for your child’s summer camp
Summer camp might be necessary in some situations, but you should keep costs in mind and choose a program that’s affordable for your family. “There is a camp for every child and every budget,” Rosenberg said.
Pay out of pocket for camp costs if possible. Make sure you capitalize on the options listed above.
If you consider borrowing money for summer camp, it should be a last resort. Look for low-interest credit options, such as:
Small personal loan: You can borrow as little as $500 to $1,000 from reputable lenders, and might find interest rates that are lower than those charged by credit cards.
Zero-interest credit card: You can sign up for a new credit card that offers a 0% introductory interest rate and use it to pay for summer camp. Make sure you pay off the balance in full before the 0% APR promotional period expires to avoid the risk of incurring high interest charges on the balance.
As a parent, child care and extracurricular activities are sources of significant expenses that you can’t always avoid.
Start thinking about these costs now so you’ll have time to save up and explore your options. With some research and forethought, you can make your own plan for how to pay for your child’s summer camp.
Interested in a personal loan?Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2019!
|Lender||APR Range||Loan Amount|
|1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Payoff.
3 Important Disclosures for FreedomPlus.
4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
5 Important Disclosures for LendingPoint.
6 Important Disclosures for LendingClub.
All loans made by WebBank, Member FDIC. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage & history. The APR ranges from 6.95% to 35.89%*. The origination fee ranges from 1% to 6% of the original principal balance and is deducted from your loan proceeds. For example, you could receive a loan of $6,000 with an interest rate of 7.99% and a 5.00% origination fee of $300 for an APR of 11.51%. In this example, you will receive $5,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $187.99. The total amount repayable will be $6,767.64. Your APR will be determined based on your credit at the time of application. The average origination fee is 5.49% as of Q1 2017. In Georgia, the minimum loan amount is $3,025. In Massachusetts, the minimum loan amount is $6,025 if your APR is greater than 12%. There is no down payment and there is never a prepayment penalty. Closing of your loan is contingent upon your agreement of all the required agreements and disclosures on the www.lendingclub.com website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months. Borrower must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or be in the United States on a valid long term visa and at least 18 years old. Valid bank account and Social Security number are required. Equal Housing Lender. All loans are subject to credit approval. LendingClub’s physical address is: LendingClub, 71 Stevenson Street, Suite 1000, San Francisco, CA 94105.
†Per reviews collected and authenticated by Bazaarvoice in compliance with the Bazaarvoice Authentication Requirements, supported by anti-fraud technology and human analysis. All reviews can be reviewed at reviews.lendingclub.com
**Based on approximately 60% of borrowers who received offers through LendingClub’s marketing partners between January 1, 2018 to July 20,2018. The time it will take to fund your loan may vary.
7 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
8 Important Disclosures for Avant.
* The actual rate and loan amount that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination and other factors. Funds are generally deposited via ACH for delivery next business day if approved by 4:30pm CT Monday-Friday. Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.
** Example: A $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33
* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.
Upgrade Bank Disclosures
** Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank via ACH within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes this transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days.
|5.75% – 16.24%1||$5,000 - $100,000|
|7.69% – 35.99%||$1,000 - $50,000|
|7.99% – 35.89%*||$1,000 - $50,000|
|5.99% – 24.99%2||$5,000 - $35,000|
|5.99% – 29.99%3||$7,500 - $40,000|
|6.79% – 20.89%4||$5,000 - $50,000|
|9.99% – 35.99%5||$2,000 - $25,000|
|6.95% – 35.89%6||$1,000 - $40,000|
|6.99% – 18.24%7||$5,000 - $75,000|
|9.95% – 35.99%8||$2,000 - $35,000|