Back-to-school costs: turning daunting into do-able

Back-to-school costs: turning daunting into do-able

The cost of a child’s education can seem daunting, particularly so soon after the Christmas holiday season.

According to the Australian Scholarship Group’s latest figures, the total cost of a government school education for a child born today will be almost $70,000 if you live in Sydney or Melbourne and close to $50,000 for those in the more affordable capital cities such as Adelaide and Hobart. Parents in regional areas will pay a total of $51,656.

Those figures include school fees, the cost of extracurricular activities such as excursions, uniforms, travel and computers.

It estimates parents in a metropolitan area can expect to pay about $4,455 annually for a child’s secondary schooling in a government school.

If you’re wondering how you’re going to meet all those back-to-school costs, here are four ways to turn daunting into do-able.

Spread the cost

One of the biggest challenges of the start of the school year is dealing with all of the costs at once. Finding a way to spread the costs over a longer period can give you some financial breathing space. For instance, if you have to buy a laptop or tablet for your child, applying for a loan via the No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) can offer a way to spread the cost over 12 months. The loan can be for up to $1,200, repayments are made over 12 months to 18 months and there are no fees or interest charged. Many applicants use the loan to cover the costs of their child’s education.

Another way to spread the costs could be to buy winter uniforms closer to when they are needed, or only buying a couple of uniforms initially and washing more frequently, then buying a few more items later.

A teacher helping a young students with iPad

Reduce costs

While government schools charge school fees, they are not compulsory, or there can be discounts offered if you have two or more children enrolled in the same school.

If you find the cost of textbooks adding up, look for alternative ways to get the books your children need. Some schools have hiring schemes allowing students to borrow their books from the library for a full year, or there may be a textbook fair where you can pick up second-hand books cheaply.

Check out the school’s uniform shop, clothing pool or exchange scheme and pick up uniforms second-hand or by swapping. Other parents may be happy to pass on hand-me-downs.

Look at associated costs too. Could you get a better deal on phone or internet costs? Or buy school supplies at discount shops?

School children playing outdoors on climbing equipment in the playground

Sell what you can

Textbook fairs and clothing pools don’t only offer opportunities to buy, they can also be a chance to sell school items that are no longer needed and make some extra dollars.

Ask about assistance programs

Scaling the back-to-school financial hump will seem more possible if you utilise the assistance on offer. The right piece of information can make all the difference. If you contact the school you might discover there is a scholarship offered for students in financial need. There can be government assistance available or assistance with uniforms, books and shoes from other organisations such as State School’s Relief in Victoria.

Mother holding hand of little son with backpack outdoors, back to school

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