Is Preschool Free? Here’s What You Need to Know

The answer to whether you have access to free preschool really depends on where you live and whether you qualify

When your kid approaches age 3 or 4, you may consider sending them to preschool. It probably seems like the natural way to have them enter the education system and transition to kindergarten, but it’s not that simple—and one looming question on parents’ minds is this: “Is preschool free?”

Short answer: No, preschool isn’t free.
Long answer: Preschool can be free, but not everywhere in the United States.

“The cost of preschool varies dramatically across the country, but the average tuition costs approximately $10,000 per academic year,” says Amanda Vierheller, co-founder and COO of Playgarden. “Cost is one of the most prohibitive factors in families committing to preschool.”

Although costly, parents might view this as an investment in their child’s future as research shows that preschool benefits kids socially, emotionally, physically, and cognitively. However, since not every family has the means to send their kid to preschool, it’s become a hot-button topic in many states.

With that said, we understand that navigating the world of preschool for your child can be difficult and we’re here to help. To make the process easier, we spoke with education experts and families about their experiences with preschool and whether free preschool might be a possibility now or in the future.

When do kids start preschool?

Preschoolers are between the ages of 3 and 5, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but children typically start preschool between 3 and 4. By chatting with local preschools, parents can determine what each school’s expectations are for readiness (e.g., potty training) and evaluate whether their kid fits the bill.

What are the benefits of preschool?

One of the reasons many parents consider sending their children to preschool is because of the advantages they’ll receive ahead of kindergarten.

“Preschool introduces children to routine, rules, independence, socialization, early learning, and foundational skills that they use both in school and at home,” says Vierheller. “Students who attend preschool have opportunities to promote social and emotional development with peers and teachers.”

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