How Much Should You Pay for a Tutor?

TutorSophomore year in high school I went to my mom with a problem – I might fail the chemistry exam. And the Algebra II final, too. I was barely getting through the tests and just couldn’t teach the information to myself anymore. The teachers felt like enemies and were talking over my head, even during one-on-one sessions. I didn’t know what to do.

With a few phone calls she found me two different tutors. And we crammed. Suddenly, things started making sense. I can remember the chemistry equations going off like a light bulb. Geometry too. I actually understood! A few weeks later I scored a 98% on the Algebra final and a 96% in chemistry. It was one of my proudest moments.

I’m sure my mom felt the same way.

So now that your child’s second report card has arrived, you might be starting to realize some extra help is needed. This isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it’s probably better for your relationship if you don’t set out to teach Junior yourself. But how much will it cost?

The good news is that there are a lot of options, including some free services. Here is a list of what to expect for each.

Private Tutors: You can go to their house, or they can come to yours. The tutors can be in high school, college or professionals in the industry (a lot of teachers and former teachers tutor!). For top quality, it will start at about $75 an hour. But don’t rule out college kids, who might only charge $30-50. Just find out if your child will need to buy any extra supplies or tools, or if the tutor has everything you need. This will affect overall cost. You can find private tutors through matching websites, colleges, and local referrals.

Tutoring Agencies: An agency will help match you with a tutor. There would be a registration fee (about $25) and then the tutor’s hourly rate. The agency may also be getting a cut of the tutor’s hourly fee (making it a little more expensive than finding the tutor yourself). However, if one tutor isn’t the right fit, there’s often the security of knowing the agency has a team of people they could send in her place. Be sure to ask about any testing fees, and if a contract would need to be signed. Also, check into the cancellation policy – do you need to pay if your child is too sick to attend? And what is the turn-around time if the first tutor isn’t the right fit?

Tutoring Centers: These are often classes, although some centers will offer one-on-one sessions. These centers will offer a variety of courses at different skill levels. Centers range from $50-150 per month, giving you weekly access to courses. Ask about testing fees, contract requirements and refund policies. Also make sure another class environment is the right setting for your child.

Online Courses: So much is happening online these days… college educations – and tutoring sessions! A subscription to a tutoring service might cost about $100 a month. Or, there are individual tutors who can teach over Skype or Google Hangouts for $20-$50 a session. Before you start this, you will still want to interview the tutor and ask about tracking goals and tackling problems you might only imagine doing on the same piece of paper. Learn how they use this resource to overcome common obstacles.

Free Tutoring: Look into programs at your school. They might offer free on-site homework help centers. Colleges and community centers are also known to offer free help as community service. Also check into No Child Left Behind, which provides tutors to qualified families – or ask tutoring centers about scholarships.

Katie Bugbee[About the author: Katie Bugbee is the senior managing editor and resident parenting expert of

A busy working mother of two, she’s an expert on many parenting dilemmas, from appeasing picky eaters to finding the perfect babysitter.]

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