Thinking about setting up a college fund for your newest bundle of joy? You might want to save up for child care, first.
A new study from the Economic Policy Institute says Hawaii is one of 23 states where average child care is higher than in-state college tuition.
According to the study, the average annual cost for child care for a 4-year-old in Hawaii is $9,312. The study compared that with in-state tuition for a four-year public college in Hawaii: $8,216.
Lisa Uyehara, of Seagull School's Early Education Center, says part of the reason preschool is so expensive is that 4-year-olds spend a lot more time in daytime child care, and get a lot more attention.
"It's not a surprise," she says. "The amount of hours children might be coming into a program. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack. We're year-round so you're getting serviced 12 months out of the year. That all adds up."
In fact, child care is the second-highest cost for families in Hawaii, coming only after housing, the study said.
The so-called price of paradise is also at work here, according to the experts.
"It's very much, 'why is everything else in Hawaii expensive?'" said Aaron Kibota, executive director of the child care advocacy group PATCH.
"You have to take all those factors into consideration when you're trying to figure out why child care costs, specifically, are expensive in Hawaii."
The study says the high costs mean a lot of families aren't able to afford child care.
The good news: There are subsidies available, such as the Preschool Open Doors program for families that qualify.
Ultimately, thinking ahead for child care costs is a must. Seagull Schools' tuition is $8,800 annually, and parents who apply now still have to wait 18 to 24 months before their child can get in.
"You need to make sure child care is top priority when you're thinking about family expenses," says Uyehara. "Always thinking about child care well in advance."