President Barack Obama has yet to issue any cost estimates for his proposal to expand access to preschool for 4-year-olds, but there is one certainty should Congress approve the program: It will be expensive.
California currently serves about one in five of the state’s low-income 4-year-olds in state-funded preschools at a cost of $3,820 per student, according to the California Department of Education. That covers a half day of preschool for 180 days, the length of a regular school year. Some preschool programs offer full-day services and the state spends additional funds to support those programs. The total spent on state-supported preschools in California in 2011-12 was $368 million, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.