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Reducing back-to-school costs

Plan and save for the school year ahead

Page reading time: 3 minutes

Uniforms, bags, stationery, fees, lunches, excursions and computers — the costs of sending kids to school soon add up. Planning ahead can help you stay on top of costs.

Spend less on school uniforms and supplies

Uniforms and stationery can be big up-front costs. But there are ways to reduce how much you spend.

Spread the costs

Only buy uniform items that your child needs for the first term. Put off buying extra sets or warmer clothes until the season changes.

Find out when your child needs different books and stationery supplies. Don't buy all of the stationery items at once. Wait until your child needs them, which may be later in the year.

Go second-hand

Most school uniform shops or parent associations sell second-hand uniforms at reduced prices.

For books and calculators, check second-hand bookshops, noticeboards or online marketplaces. Or ask parents with older kids if they have any used items.

At most schools, you don't need to upgrade your child's laptop or tablet every year. Look for second-hand or refurbished models. Find out if you can buy computers through the school at a discount.

Label everything

Put your child's name on every uniform and stationery item. You can order cheap customised labels online or through a stationery supplier. Labeled items are more likely to be returned if they get lost.

Buy at sales

Stock up when you see sales and clearances. This could be after the school year starts. Find out if your school has any deals with local businesses to offer discounts to school families.

Avoid impulse buys

Make a list before you go shopping. Stick to your list and only buy what you need.

Look for value

Go for durable and quality items, if you can. Look for sales and discounts at stores known for good-value products and fair prices.

Set a limit

Use buying school items as a way to teach your kids about money. If your kids are older, agree on a budget and get them to do the shopping.

Budget for the school year

Do a budget before the year starts. Estimate any extra costs that might come up during the year. Things like excursions, camps, sporting events, music lessons and project supplies.

Get help with school costs

No Interest Loan

If you need help to cover education costs for your child, consider a No Interest Loan. You could get a loan of up to $2,000 for things like a laptop, school fees or uniforms. You don’t pay any fees or interest on the loan.

Ask Good Shepherd about No Interest Loans (NILs).

Saver Plus

If you’re on a tight budget, the Saver Plus program can help you save for education costs. You set a savings goal and have your savings matched up to $500. Eligible costs include text books, sports uniforms and equipment, computers and tablets.

Ask the Brotherhood of St Laurence about Saver Plus.

Financial hardship support through your school

If you're experiencing financial hardship and struggling to meet school costs, speak to the school principal. Most schools have financial assistance programs for families.

Get help with transport costs

If your child catches public transport to school, apply for a student concession card. Some states offer subsidies to support school students to travel to and from school.

Transport Canberra concessions
New South Wales School Student Transport Scheme (SSTS)
Northern Territory Remote Transit Subsidy
Queensland School Transport Assistance Scheme (STAS)
South Australia Travel concession and allowances
Tasmania Student travel
Victoria Public Transport for school students
Western Australia
Student travel subsidies

Get support from the government

Services Australia

Services Australia has payments and services to help with your child's education and health care. To find out more, see raising kids on the Services Australia website.

The Australian Government is offering free home internet for one year for 30,000 families with school aged students who don't have nbn. To find out more, see the School Student Broadband Initiative on the nbn website.

State governments

Each state government offers financial assistance to school students to help cover education costs.

Australian Capital Territory

Financial assistance for families

New South Wales

Financial support for students

Active Kids voucher

Creative Kids voucher

Northern Territory

Financial help and scholarships


Textbook and resource allowance

South Australia

School Card scheme



Financial assistance with school levies


Student scholarships

State Schools Relief

Western Australia

Secondary Assistance Scheme