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  • Writer's pictureFlow Australia

Education expenses and fees leave parents floundering

Parents are concerned their children may have to go without essential school supplies as expenses skyrocket ahead of the 2024 school year.

Nine in 10 families are worried they won't be able to afford back-to-school essentials as enrolment fees surge across the nation.

With weeks until the 2024 school year kicks off, Smith Family research shows parents are increasingly worried about being able to afford basic supplies for the school year.

CEO Doug Taylor said more than half of parents are concerned their children will miss out on the digital devices they need.

"The families we support make impossible decisions every day about how to prioritise the limited resources they have," he said.

"Educational essentials like uniforms, books, a laptop and the internet are increasingly hard to afford."

Almost half of the 2200 survey respondents said they think their children will miss out on uniforms or shoes for school and one-third will likely miss school excursions.

Meanwhile, new figures show parents in Melbourne will have to fork out the most money in the country for their child to complete their education in a public school.

Research reveals the total cost of schooling over 13 years for a child starting at a government school in 2024 is $108,879 for students in Melbourne.

The Investment in Education Index by Futurity Investment Group shows the cost of sending a child to a public school is $92,710 for students in metro areas and $80,303 for regional areas.

While school fees make up only four per cent of the cost of government schools, the remaining amount takes into account all other costs associated with education such as school supplies, excursions, electronic devices and extracurricular activities.

Over 13 years of education, the cost for Catholic schools in metro areas is $195,074 compared with just under $173,000 for regional schools.

Costs are significantly higher for full education at independent schools, which come in at $316,944 for metro areas and $221,501 for the regions.

Canberra is the most expensive city in Australia for Catholic education at $208,871, a more than $11,000 increase on the year before.

Meanwhile, independent education expenses were highest in Sydney, rising by more than $20,000 from 2023 to $377,993.

Futurity chief executive Sam Sondhi said while the rising cost of education was largely consistent with trends in previous years, there had been a marked rise following high inflation.

"(The increases in education) have been pretty consistent with the rates of inflation, and we've seen that increase in the last year by about six per cent for ancillary costs," he said.

"The impact has been very pronounced with inflation high."

The report found school fees made up 23 per cent of the total cost of 13 years of Catholic school education, while tuition costs amounted to 55 per cent at independent schools.

The most affordable cities for education are Canberra for government schools at $81,564, Sydney for Catholic schools at $188,759, while Perth is the least expensive city for independent schools at $225,728.

Mr Sondhi said parents were bearing the brunt of rising costs of ancillary expenses involved in education.

"The cost devices over the past decade have increased markedly, and by virtue of children being educated in more tech savvy ways, device costs are borne by parents," he said.

It is unacceptable Victorian families have to pay more compared to the rest of the country, according to Victorian opposition education spokeswoman Jess Wilson.

"Families with a child starting their school journey in just a few weeks' time will be paying $6000 more for their education this year compared to last year," she said. 

"Victorian families deserve an education system that is not only affordable but will equip students with the key skills they need to live full and successful lives."


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