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Private school exodus: Families exit expensive schools as cost of living soars

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Millions of Aussie families are switching to public schooling to help save their budget, according to new research by Finder.

According to Finder's Parenting Report 2023, which surveyed 1,033 Australian parents of children under 12, 17% are contemplating moving their child from a private school to a public school to reduce their expenses.

A further 10% of families have already made the switch to a public school as living costs skyrocket.

Families in NSW (14%) are more likely to have already made the switch, compared to VIC (8%) and QLD (8%).

Sending a child to a private primary school costs on average $7,967 per year in Victoria, compared to just $303 for a public school.

Sarah Megginson, a mother of three and money expert at Finder, said the costs of private school are becoming unmanageable for some.

"A private school education is a 'luxury' with many families having to prioritise other expenses like housing, groceries and petrol costs.

"With so many bills rising, private schooling is on the chopping block."

This comes as Finder analysis shows back-to-school costs in 2023 – including tuition, supplies and other costs – are set to burn an $11.4 billion hole in parents' pockets.

That's $2,325 for each primary school child and $4,212 for secondary students on average for school expenses this year.

Finder's Parenting Report 2023 found almost 1 in 4 (22%) will keep their children in private schools, despite the rising cost of living.

The largest exodus is expected in NSW – where 1 in 5 parents (20%) admit they are considering moving their children from private to public schools. This is in addition to the 14% who have already moved to less pricey pastures.

That's compared to 19% of parents in VIC who are considering moving their child from a private school to a public school and 16% in QLD.

Megginson said families are having to make some difficult choices when it comes to household expenses.

"It's tough to pay school fees when every other bill is creeping up at the same time."

Megginson urged parents to supercharge their savings to help weather whatever 2023 might throw at them.

"Savings account interest rates can be a buffer for rising inflation – but don't just assume your bank is passing on the RBA hike each month.

"Savers should be aiming for a rate that starts with at least a '3' – with these deals becoming easier to find."

Will you consider moving your child from a private to public school as costs rise?
Yes, I already have10%
Yes, I'm considering it17%
No, I wouldn't consider it22%
No, my kids don't go to a private school50%
Source: Finder parenting survey of 1,033 Australian parents of children aged 0-12, November 2022

State-by-state breakdown

Will you consider moving your child from a private to public school as costs rise?
NSWQLDSAVICWA
Yes, I already have14%8%7%8%12%
Yes, I'm considering it20%16%14%19%10%
No, I wouldn't consider it20%23%25%24%23%
No, my kids don't go to a private school45%53%54%49%55%
Source: Finder parenting survey of 1,033 Australian parents of children aged 0-12, November 2022

Looking to supercharge your savings? Here are 50 easy and practical money-saving tips that will help you budget and save money quickly.

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