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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 can add up. But planning ahead can help you stay on top of costs.

Spend less on school uniforms and supplies

Uniforms and stationery can be a big up-front cost, 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.

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

Go second-hand

Most school uniform shops or P&Cs 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.

At most schools, you don't have 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 with a discount.

Label everything

Put your child's name on every uniform and stationery item. They're more likely to be returned if they get lost.

Buy at sales

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

Avoid impulse buys

Go shopping with a list and you'll be more likely to only buy what you need.

Look for value

Go for durable and quality items, rather than super-cheap or gimmicks. Look around for sales and discounts at stores known for good-value products and fair prices.

Set a limit

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

If you need to buy a computer for your child or cover other education expenses, a no-interest loan can help. You can get a loan for up to $2,000 with no fees and no interest. Good Shepherd has more information about No Interest Loans (NILs)

Budget for school expenses

Create a budget before the year starts. Estimate any extra costs that might come up during the year. These might include excursions, camps, sporting or music events and lessons, and project supplies.

Saver Plus

The Saver Plus program can help families and individuals on a tight budget save for education costs. Participants set a savings goal and have their savings matched up to $500. Eligible expenses include text books, sports uniforms and equipment, computers and tablets.  

Get help with transport costs

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

Transport Canberra concessions
New South Wales School Student Transport Scheme (SSTS)
Northern Territory Student travel scheme
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 assistance from the government

The Services Australia has payments and services to help with your child's education and health care. For more information, see raising kids.

Each state government also 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

Financial hardship assistance through your school

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