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Back to school: Aussie parents to be hit with $4,212 cost

Aussie parents are bracing for a budget blowout with back-to-school costs expected to soar.

A composite image of Australian money and a mum holding her kids hands as they go back to school.
Aussie parents are bracing for a budget blowout as back-to-school costs soar. (Source: Getty)

Back-to-school costs will burn an $11.4 billion hole in parents' pockets in 2023, according to new research from Finder.

The research revealed Aussie parents would be bracing themselves for a back-to-school budget blowout.

Finder crunched the numbers on school expenses in 2023, and found that school supplies alone were expected to cost families a whopping $2.6 billion for the year ahead. A fresh set of school supplies – complete with textbooks, stationery and a uniform – will set parents back an average of $571 for primary school children and $771 for secondary students.

When other costs – like tuition fees, uniforms, technology, camps, excursions, sporting and musical equipment and transport costs – are taken into account, this jumps to a national spend of $11.4 billion. That’s $2,325 for each primary school child and $4,212 for secondary students, on average.

According to Finder’s Parenting Report 2022, which surveyed 1,032 Aussie parents of children under 12, 17 per cent of Aussie parents were contemplating moving their child from a private school to a public school to reduce their expenses. A further 10 per cent of families had already made the switch to a public school as living costs skyrocketed.

Finder money expert, and mother-of-three, Sarah Megginson said the back-to-school costs were significant.

“With the cost of living continuing to skyrocket, many parents will struggle to afford the necessary supplies, clothing and technology for their children,” Megginson said.

“Some families are forced to make difficult decisions about which supplies to buy and which to go without. Many will reach breaking point as rising fuel and food costs, Christmas debt hangover and back-to-school costs collide.”

Tuition fees and voluntary school contributions tend to be the biggest expense, costing parents on average anywhere between $204 for a public primary school to $10,662 for an independent secondary school, adding up to a national spend of $3.4 billion.

Other hidden expenses include camps - costing primary students $312 per year and secondary students $443 per year on average - and transport to and from school, costing $512 and $610 respectively.

“If you know about a $300 camp or $500 trip to Canberra in advance, you can start putting away a small amount of money each week to help pay for it well before the invoice is due,” Megginson said.

“To help ease the overall financial burden, talk to your school about potential payment plans. My kids go to a public school and we pay $250-$300 per year, per student for school supplies. We have the option to pay this in a lump sum, or pay it off in instalments over time.”

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