Carnegie Mellon University

Affording Quality Child Care

Provider-Specific Assistance and Discounts

Child care providers may offer plans or benefits to reduce tuition. While not all have their own financial assistance programs, we encourage checking with your child care provider to see if they offer:

  • Sliding fee scale — Families pay a rate based on their income. You can also ask whether they offer payment plans or other options to help pay for child care.
  • Sibling discount — Families that enroll more than one child may be eligible for a reduction in cost. They may take a percentage or dollar amount off a child’s weekly or monthly rate. They may also waive the registration fee or other fees.
  • Autopay discount — This reduces costs for families who pay tuition up front or who enroll in automated billing.
  • Scholarships — Some providers offer need-based financial assistance.

Work and School Related Programs

Many employers provide child care benefits to their employees. Review the benefits you and your household members may be eligible for. Benefits specific to CMU include:

  • Care for Business — Eligible staff, faculty and graduate students at CMU have access to a free premium subscription to as well as a limited number of subsidized backup care days.
  • LifeMart [pdf] — As part of the services offered by Care@Work, families are eligible for a discounts at participating child care centers including Kindercare, Lightbridge Academy, Tutor Time and many others located around the country.
  • Au Pair in America — Offers a 5% program discount plus no application fee for all CMU faculty and staff; use discount code 402.
  • Dependent Care Reimbursement Account — Helps you lower your dependent care expenses by paying with tax-free money. With the DCRA, you put aside money from your pay on a pre-tax basis to cover anticipated dependent daycare expenses while you work or attend school.

College or University Child Care

Some colleges and universities offer child care on campus. These programs may offer special discounts to students, faculty and staff. CMU offers:

  • Cyert Center Sliding Scale benefit — This is a benefit for full-time, benefits-eligible staff and faculty members to offset some of the cost of tuition for the Cyert Center for Early Childhood Education.
  • Graduate Student Assembly Child Care Grant — Need-based child care support of $750 per semester to eligible CMU graduate student applicants in the form of non-qualified scholarships.

State and Local Assistance

Each state and locality provides its own form of assistance. We have listed the programs available in Allegheny County. If you live elsewhere and would like help finding programs offered in your area, contact the Family Care team for assistance.

  • PreK Counts — Provides free half-day or full-day pre-kindergarten for children ages 3 and 4 in families earning up to 300% of federal poverty guidelines throughout Pennsylvania.
  • Head Start programs — For families earning up to 100% of federal poverty guidelines, these programs provide free child care for children from birth to age 2 (Early Head Start) and children ages 3 and 4 (Head Start). Children are also eligible for these programs if their family receive assistance through TANF, SNAP or SSI. Foster children are eligible, regardless of their foster family’s income. Pregnant women are eligible to receive services through Early Head Start.
  • Child Care Works — Provides subsidies for children ages birth to 12 to attend child care for families earning up to 200% of federal poverty guidelines.
  • Pennsylvania 529 College and Career Savings Program — Offers two savings plans: the Guaranteed Savings Plan (lower risk) that helps your savings keep pace with rising higher education tuition, and the Investment Plan, which lets you choose from several investment options through The Vanguard Group. Contributions are deductible from your PA state income tax.
  • Early learning centers provided by school districts — Many school districts provide early learning centers for free or low cost to district residents. A concierge specialist can help you find programs in your district.
    • Pittsburgh Public Schools — Offers programming for children from birth to 5 years old designed to reinforce and respond to the unique strengths and needs of each individual child and family. The fee for the Early Childhood Program is $6,500 per academic year.

Federal Assistance

  • Tax Credits — Tax credits reduce the amount of tax you owe and may result in a refund.
    • Child and dependent care tax credit — Available to those who pay for child care so they can work or look for work. Consult your tax professional for additional information.

Poverty Guidelines

2024 Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia

Persons in family / household

Poverty Guidelines 100%

Poverty Guidelines 200%

Poverty Guidelines 300%

For families/households with more than eight persons, add $5,380 for each additional person.