Get up to speed with the government subsidies you may be able to claim in 2021 now the kids are back to school.
With the new year now in motion, many parents and carers are probably looking at how they’ll cover school fees for the year ahead, not to mention other costs, which might include things like uniforms, shoes, stationery, excursions and transport.
The good news is, you may be eligible for some financial assistance through subsidies in your state or territory, which may be means tested or require you to hold a concession card.
State and territory allowances
According to figures, the total estimated cost of education for a child starting school in Australia over a projected 13-year period in 2021 is1:
|Metropolitan (national average)||Regional and remote (national average)|
With that in mind, it’s worth knowing some of the rebates and tax breaks you as a parent or guardian may be eligible for.
New South Wales
Children enrolled in primary or high school, who are aged between four and a half and 18 (including those that are home-schooled), are eligible for two $100 Active Kids Vouchers each calendar year. The vouchers can be used for sport and active recreation costs by parents, guardians and carers.
A $100 Creative Kids voucher can also be applied for each year to help with the cost of creative classes and activities, such as music, dance and drama lessons, language classes, coding and design.
On top of that, if you drive the kids to school because there’s no public transport where you live, you may be eligible for the School Drive Subsidy.
There are also two financial support programs for eligible families who have children boarding away from home to complete their secondary education. See info on the Living Away from Home Allowance for Secondary Students as well as Boarding Scholarships for Isolated Students.
If you have secondary-school-age students who are attending state and approved non-state schools, you may be able to receive financial assistance to help with the cost of textbooks and other learning resources. For more details, read about the Queensland textbook and resource allowance.
Parents, carers or guardians may also apply for a FairPlay voucher valued at up to $150 for their child, which can be used for sport and active recreation membership, registration or participation fees with registered activity providers.
The Living Away from Home Allowances Scheme is also available, while talented students from regional and remote areas, who aren’t eligible, may apply for the Queensland Academies Isolated Students Bursary Scheme.
Depending on your situation, your family may be eligible to receive free or discounted uniforms, shoes, textbooks, stationery and more through the State Schools' Relief.
The Camps, Sports and Excursions Fund may also provide payments so eligible students can take part in school trips and various sporting activities.
The School Card scheme assists with expenses, such as school fees, uniforms, camps and excursions. This is available for eligible students attending government schools.
The State Education Allowance is also available to geographically isolated parents with children at secondary level, who board away from home to attend school. The allowance assists with travel, boarding and other education-related expenses.
The Secondary Assistance Scheme is available to parents who hold eligible concession cards. It provides an education program allowance, which is paid to the school, and a clothing allowance that can be paid to the school or parent.
A Boarding Away from Home Allowance also assists geographically isolated families with boarding and education costs for primary and secondary-school-age children.
The Student Assistance Scheme assists with the cost of school levies. It provides support to low-income families to help with the cost of students in kindergarten through to year 12.
The Back to School Payment Scheme provides financial assistance to parents and guardians of children enrolled in a Northern Territory school, or who are registered for home-schooling. The entitlement can be used towards things like uniforms, books and school camps.
There’s also a Sport Voucher Scheme that assists with sport, recreation and cultural-activity costs.
For further information on financial help, including whether you’re eligible for assistance if your child has to live away from home or travel long distances to go to school, check out info on the Northern Territory state government website.
Australian Capital Territory
The Secondary Bursary Scheme and Student Support Fund programs provide assistance to eligible low-income earners in the state with dependent full-time students in years seven to 10.
Commonwealth Government assistance
Australian Government assistance may also be available through avenues such as Youth Allowance, the Family Tax Benefit, ABSTUDY and the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme. For more information, visit the Services Australia page - Help with the cost of education.
You may also want to check out an initiative the Australian Department of Social Services is involved in, which is called Saver Plus. It’s a program delivered in a number of communities across the country, which delivers up to $500 in matched savings for education costs and provides free financial education workshops and support.
The cost of kids doesn’t come cheap, so it’s worthwhile making the most of the subsidies available to you, including the Child Care Subsidy before they start school, which may help with the cost of child care if you meet certain criteria.
In the meantime, if you need further help, speak to your school about what financial support is available and talk to other parents who have children at the same school or schools nearby.
1 Futurity Investment Group Planning for Education Index – Total calculated cost of education for a child starting school in 2021 – page 4
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