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Is It Better to Spring for Private High School or College?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) Most families have a limited amount of funds to put toward their children's education. With prices on the rise for tuition at private primary schools and colleges, paying for both isn't usually an option. So where should you invest your education dollars on a private prep school or on college tuition? Experts weigh in on how best to spend your education cash.

Blowing all your money on a private primary or high school is a risk, says Brad Pine, wealth adviser and president of Bradford Pine Wealth Group in Garden City, N.Y.

"The most sensible strategy is for the student to do well academically in a good public high school with the goal of being admitted to the college of their choice," Pine says. "Parents may risk spending a lot on private high school tuition and not see their child gain admission to their desired college."

While some private high schools are so-called "feeder" schools for high-level colleges, it's definitely not a guarantee that attending one will earn you admission. Also, where someone attended high school rarely comes up in a job interview, Pine explains.

"Private schools are great. You get a great education, and they may prepare you a heck of a lot more for college, but they don't offer guaranteed entry to the college of your choice," he says.

Families with limited funds would be wise not to "gamble" that a private school will be their child's ticket to a full ride scholarship at the university of their choice.

"I wouldn't take my chances paying for private school because, then, if you get into an Ivy League college that costs $60,000 a year, now all of the sudden you can't afford the college your child wanted to go to, even with student loans. In that case, if the scholarship doesn't come through, you just can't go even if your child is smart and does well, they aren't guaranteed merit scholarships," Pine cautions.

Oftentimes, the worthiness of the investment in private schools depends on where your child wants to go to college it's hardly worth spending the money on a private primary school if your child has their heart set on attending a state university.

With that said, private schools aren't just vehicles for good education they also provide important connections your child can use professionally once their college years are long passed.

"Private schools offer tremendous connections and bonds that can help you find future jobs there are benefits to who you know," he says.

Of course where you spend your money may have a lot to do with geography, too if you live in an area where the public schools aren't doing their job, it's time to seriously consider investing in a private education, says Ken Kamen, president of Mercadien Asset Management.

"If you go to a poor public school where you simply don't get the basics, then you're going to be at a disadvantage. If your school is not providing your child with the raw materials they need, if they aren't getting the fundamentals, then private school becomes a necessity," he says.