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Back to school costs 2024

Parents set to fork out $12.9 billion on back to school costs in 2024.

The beginning of a new year marks the dreaded back to school shop for parents across the country.

Finder crunched the numbers and found parents will spend $12.9 billion on back-to-school costs in 2024, including tuition, school supplies and other costs.

How much will parents spend on back to school costs?

When all costs – like tuition fees, camps, excursions, sporting equipment and transport costs – are taken into account, parents are shelling out on average $2547 per primary school child per year, and $4793 on secondary students.

That adds up to a whopping national spend of $12.9 billion – $5.5 billion spent on primary school costs, and $7.4 for secondary school costs.

How much does tuition cost in Australia?

Tuition fees are the biggest school expense, costing parents on average anywhere between anywhere between $158 for a public primary school to $12,860 for an independent secondary school, adding up to a national spend of $3.7 billion.

The ACT ranks as the most expensive state for private primary schools, with the average independent school tuition costing $8511 per year for primary students.

For private secondary schools, New South Wales is the most expensive with the average independent school tuition costing $12860 per year for secondary students. That's compared to $9,222 in VIC.

When it comes to government schools however, South Australia takes the lead with the average primary school asking parents for a voluntary contribution of $440, and the average secondary school asking for $978.

How much do school supplies cost?

A fresh set of school supplies – complete with textbooks, stationery and a uniform – will set parents back $684 for primary school children and $1132 for secondary students.

Across the country, school supplies are expected to cost families a staggering $3.5 billion for the year ahead.

School uniforms are the priciest back-to-school item, costing $245 for primary students and $469 for secondary students each year. Electronic devices come in second place at $244 and $300 respectively.

What are the other hidden costs?

School tuition and supplies can add up quickly, but there are plenty of other things parents will spend money on this year.

Some hidden costs include transport to and from school, costing primary students $530 and secondary students $632, and school camps, costing $323 and $458 respectively.

Electronic devices like laptops and tablets can be crucial for students at school and at home. Finder's analysis of research from the Futurity Investment Group found parents can expect to pay $244 per year on devices in primary school, and $300 in secondary school.

1 in 3 Aussie parents can't afford back to school costs

Back to school costs are a huge burden for millions of Aussie families this January, according to new research by Finder.

Finder data shows 30% of Aussie parents – equivalent to 1.9 million households – can't afford back to school expenses including stationery and uniforms.

More than one in ten (11%) admit they will have to go into debt to pay for back to school costs.

A further 13% of families say they'll have to buy second hand items or use hand-me-downs to get their child back in the classroom.

The research shows 2% of school aged children will be using last year's supplies.

Sadly 4% of families say their child will have to go without.

How to save on back to school costs

Buy quality where it counts. You can extend the lifespan of backpacks by shopping around for something durable that will withstand years of being tossed around. On the other hand, stick to budget-friendly brands when it comes to losable items like lunch boxes and water bottles. There's no point in buying something fancy if you're going to have to replace it 6 months later.

Buy a few sizes up. Kids grow! Before you know it, they've outgrown the school uniform that cost you hundreds of dollars. Avoid forking out on a new uniform every year by buying a few sizes up. It might look a bit large on them now, but they'll quickly grow into it. A small amount of wiggle room in their shoes will help too.

Get on the front foot. Don't leave your school shop to the last minute – facing crowds and empty shelves will be stressful for both you and your kids. Start shopping early and look out for back to school sales. This can save you hundreds of dollars over the year, especially on pricey items like laptops.


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