How Much is K12 Online School?

6 min to read
Mother and two daughters researching on laptop how much does online high school cost.

When a family is considering online school for their child, there’s one question that always comes up: price. 

How much does online school cost? Is online school expensive? Is online school cheaper? Is online school free?

Cost is certainly a factor in any major decision, and your child’s education is no exception. Learn more about the costs associated with online school and what you can expect from online public school. 

Understanding the Cost of Online School

While individual institutions and their costs vary, it’s important to understand the basics of how much online school is compared to in-person models of education. 

How Much Is Online Elementary School?

While costs can vary from state to state and school to school, public elementary school (whether provided online or in person) is generally tuition-free. This is certainly the case at Connections Academy, where we provide online K-12 school programming tuition-free.

How Much Is Online High School?

Public online high school costs the same as traditional in-person high school—meaning outside of any specific program fees, it is provided without cost. The answer to “how much is high school?” does change, however, if you are considering attending private school, which offers enrollment to students at cost. 

Private schools often offer programs and opportunities for advanced learning that are not always offered in a public school setting, such as Advanced Placement® courses,* year-round schooling, or part-time courses. For families concerned about the price of online private high school, schools like Pearson Online Academy offer scholarships and tuition financing plans to help your student reach their academic goals.

How Much Is Public School In-Person vs. Remote Learning?

Both in-person and online school education are provided tuition-free to enrolled students. However, there are collateral costs to be considered that are just part of being a student. 

For example, students attending traditional public school will have to consider the costs of purchasing school supplies and extracurricular activities associated with their education.

For students attending online school, some of these additional costs are diminished, but, depending on the family’s requirements, students may have to set up a dedicated learning space and purchase additional supplies, which could be a significant cost.

How to Decide on the Right School Option for Your Family

There are many things to consider when deciding on the right K-12 school for your child. With modern technology, parents today have significantly more school choices. In-person or virtual school? Public or private? Homeschool or Learning Pod? 

As parents weigh what type of school and curriculum is best suited for their child, another key factor is what is supplied by the school and what families will need to supply. While the distinction is clear when comparing in-person public schools to traditional private schools, when looking at online school choices, many parents are left wondering what the benefits are for a child receiving an online education versus a traditional brick-and-mortar one.

Public and Private Online Schools

Many parents may be surprised to learn that, just like brick-and-mortar schools, there are public and private online schools. Also, like brick-and-mortar schools, public online schools are typically sponsored by a state regulator or local school district. They must meet state and/or district curriculum and attendance requirements, as well as teacher certifications. Similar to a brick-and-mortar school, public online schools have geographical boundaries—albeit bigger ones, since students must all come from the same state. Students in online public schools also take any state-mandated tests.

Like their brick-and-mortar counterpart, online private schools have more flexibility in their curriculum (such as potentially incorporating religious teachings); students aren’t restricted to geographical locations; and they don’t take standardized tests.

A family learning online

Tuition-Free Public Online Schools—What’s Provided to Students

Technology plays a significant part in the online school experience. Many public tuition-free online schools like Connections Academy® provide computers to their students at no cost, depending on the state. Students may also use their own computers if they choose.

Required texts and instructional materials, which can be digital or physical depending on your student’s grade level and state, are also provided at no cost. 

What’s Provided by Families

Online school students need most of the same supplies as brick-and-mortar school students, and the supplies must be purchased by the family. This includes school supplies like pencils, erasers, and notebooks. Some online school families find having a working printer helpful to have near the student’s learning space, but this isn’t necessary since most of the work will be completed online and submitted as electronic documents.  

Online public schools typically offer optional in-person field trips throughout the year, providing opportunities for students to connect with their peers while supporting academic development. Families are responsible for any fees, such as the price of admission to a zoo, related to these additional field trips.

Young students playing drums on a field trip

How to Get Started

  1. Get your questions answered. Fill out an information form, review our e-guide, and talk to an enrollment specialist.  

  2. Start the enrollment process. Again, just like a brick-and-mortar school, there are no fees associated with enrollment and getting started. 

  3. Attend a virtual information session.We have regularly scheduled webinars, virtual information sessions, and other opportunities to meet your state’s online school representatives.

Still weighing school options? That’s OK! Learn more about what online school provides families and why these parents made the switch


*Advanced Placement is a registered trademark of the College Board. Used with permission.  

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