4 Ways to Pay for Your Kid’s Summer Camp

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how to pay for your child's summer camp
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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.

  • Find extra funds. Look for ways to cut back spending or earn some extra money to add to your summer camp fund. By planning ahead, you might be able to save for this short-term goal.

  • 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.

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1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

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  1. Personal LoansFixed rates from 6.58% APR to 14.87% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 6.275% APR to 12.575% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of July 16, 2018 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 6.275% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 2.10% plus 4.175% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.
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  • Personal Loan Rate DisclosureFixed interest rates from 6.49% – 19.49% (6.49% – 19.49% APR) based on applicable terms. Lowest rates range from 5.99%-18.99% (5.99%-18.99% APR), are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
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  2. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.

* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.

Upgrade Bank Disclosures

  • Personal Loan Rate DisclosureFixed interest rates from 6.49% – 19.49% (6.49% – 19.49% APR) based on applicable terms. Lowest rates range from 5.99%-18.99% (5.99%-18.99% APR), are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  1. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  2. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
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