By Cadice Choi, AP Personal Finance Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — The arithmetic of hiring a tutor can keep you up at night. At $100 an hour, once a week, for the next several months or more, what are the costs?
A whole lot of coupon cutting, and endless hours of financial fretting.
But even as you scale back spending in the downturn, you're probably not willing to compromise on your children's education. That said, there are some options that could help save you money.
"There are timely discounts right now both because of the start of the school year and the economy," said Karen Froseth, tutoring director for Kaplan Test Prep, which also provides tutoring for regular coursework.
As the school year approaches, here are a few ways to give your kids a boost without spending a lot.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
The first step is diagnosing exactly what kind of help your child needs, said Lisa Jacobson, president of Inspirica, a tutoring company based in New York. That way you won't waste time or money on ineffective tutoring.
"It might be their study habits or that they're having trouble with a particular subject," Jacobson said.
Once you're clear about your goal, look for someone you and your child feel comfortable with. There's no science to determining the right fit, but don't base your decision on credentials alone.
Anybody can call themselves a tutor, so the resumes you'll see can vary greatly. Some tutors are practicing or retired teachers, and tutoring companies often have in-house training programs.
Or you might find a local graduate or college student who has no teaching credentials, but comes strongly recommended by friends.
As a starting point, there are plenty of free or low-cost tutoring sites, and it's likely you can find one for any subject.
CliffNotes.com is geared toward students in the eighth grade and up, and has free study guides for subjects including math, literature and foreign languages.