With 2018 now in motion, many parents and carers are looking at how they’ll cover school fees for the year ahead, not to mention other costs, such as uniforms, shoes, stationery and equipment.
The Schoolkids Bonus was phased out in July 20161, but 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 card2.
State and territory allowances
Attending a government school, from pre-school through to high-school, is currently estimated to cost around $70,454 per child, assuming they live in an Australian capital city3.
With that in mind, it’s worth knowing the rebates and tax breaks you as a parent or guardian may be eligible for.
New South Wales
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. To find out more, check out information on the Living Away from Home Allowance and Boarding Scholarship for Isolated Students.
In addition, from 31 January 2018, children in kindergarten through to Year 12 (including those that are home-schooled) will be eligible for an Active Kids Voucher, providing parents and guardians with $100 to put toward registration and participation costs for sport and fitness activities.
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, check out the Queensland state government website.
On top of that, a voucher of up to $150 under the Get Started Vouchers program may also be available for children who can least afford, or may otherwise benefit from joining a sport or recreation club, while there are additional funding sources that aim to support young athletes.
Depending on your situation, your family may be eligible to receive free or discounted uniforms, shoes, textbooks, stationery and more through the not-for-profit organisation 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. And, you may be eligible for financial help 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
There’s also a Child Care Benefit which may help with the cost of out-of-school care, vacation care, pre-school and kindergarten. Eligibility criteria and an income test do apply, and note that from 2 July 2018, there will be a new child care package and different eligibility rules may apply.
Another initiative the Australian Department of Social Services is involved in is Saver Plus - a program that’s delivered in 60 communities across the country. It delivers up to $500 in matched savings for education costs, and provides free financial education workshops and support.
The cost of kids4 almost doubled over a ten-year period, so it’s worthwhile making the most of the subsidies available to you.
In the meantime, 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 Australian Department of Human Services – Schoolkids Bonus
2 Money Smart – Reducing back to school costs (Government assistance with school costs)
3 ASG Supporting Children’s Education homepage (Table: Your child’s future education costs)
4 AMP.NATSEM report – the cost of raising children in Australia (page 2)
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