How Preschool Costs Impact Early Childhood Enrollment

The influence of early childhood education will likely have a dramatic affect on the fabric of American society. Studies show 80 percent of children who attend preschool go on to graduate high school, compared to 60 percent of kids who don't attend an early childhood program, according to a Highscope Perry Preschool study.

In the majority of states, however, the cost of center-based child care exceeds 25 percent of state median income for married couples.

Parents are being asked to fork over more money for a 4-year-old’s child care program than college tuition in 31 states! It’s no wonder preschool enrollments have plateaued at a paltry 28 percent.

We pulled together data on early childhood enrollment in state programs from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) and contrasted it with the cost of child care from Child Care Aware in an interactive map. 

In states like Minnesota—which reports one of the highest annual costs of daycare at $10,664 per child—state program enrollment is only 1 percent of eligible 3- and 4-year-olds.

Even some states with “mid-tier” daycare costs—New Mexico reports an average annual cost of $6,475—show low enrollments, with only 9 percent of kids enrolled in preschool programs.

Some states are doing better than others. Florida has a mid-tier average daycare cost of $6,571 but reports 40 percent enrollment in preschool programs.

Mapping out the high cost of child care makes it easy to see why there has been a great deal of government attention on increasing access to early childhood education in recent years. If costs continue to rise at this rate, high school kids will have to start saving for their future child’s care before they attend their own graduation ceremony.  

Are you surprised how your state matches up? Let us know in the comments below!

For more information on what Rasmussen is doing to impact Early Childhood Education, check out the homepage.

*Note states that show “0” for enrollment did not report their preschool participation rates to NIEER.

Katy Katz

Katy is a Content Marketing Specialist at Collegis Education who writes student-focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen College. She enjoys creating engaging content to help former, current and future students on their path to a rewarding education.


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