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.
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.
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, a low-interest or no-interest loan can help. Good Shepherd Microfinance runs the No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS). You can get a loan for up to $1,200 with no fees and no interest.
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.
Create a budget that includes school expenses, so you know how much you'll need to get through the year.
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|
|Victoria||Public Transport for school students|
||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 payments for families.
Each state government also offers financial assistance to school students to help cover education costs.
Australian Capital Territory
New South Wales
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.