For our Australian clients, it’s that time of year when battling outgrown uniforms, cries for new stationery and lunchboxes, and the general everyday cloud of gloom descends over their children as they prepare to return to school for another year.
For some, the prospect of returning to a familiar routine is welcomed, no longer having to entertain the kids 24/7 or bribing other family members to take on that chore for them. But, for many, the new school year brings with it new costs for an already tight budget.
Modern parenting is fraught with social pitfalls and hidden expenses. Forget to tell your child’s friends that you won’t make their birthday party can mean being slapped with an invoice. Childhood is a serious (and costly) business.
A recent survey by UK charity organisation 4Children shows a rise in childcare costs of 30% in the last five years with many parents opting to reduce their work hours to look after their children themselves. This trend is shared across both the US and Australia where according to a report by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, low income mothers returning to work can end up earning as little as AUD$3.45 per hour once the loss of government benefits, taxation and childcare costs are considered.
With some Australian childcare centres charging as much as AUD$170 a day, a jump of 150% since 2004, most parents will be happy to cart their child off to school when the time comes just to save a few dollars. Unfortunately, the cost of a child’s education only rises higher from the moment they enter the schoolyard.
According to Australian charity The Smith Family, parents can be spending upwards of AUD$700 before their child even reaches the school gate with education costs equalling around AUD$2000 a year per child. Even public schools are not without the sneaky, unexpected expenditures. Uniforms, books, excursions and field trips, voluntary contributions, not to mention computers and Internet connections, all add up to leaving poor parents – well – poor.
Not-for-profit education savings provider Australian Scholarships Group estimates the cost of a government primary and secondary school can be as high as AUD$65,829, which includes tuition and all ancillaries. If you choose a private education, that estimate rises to AUD$428,723 per child. Their infographics below show how that cost is set to grow for children born in 2015.
Looking at these alarmingly high figures, we also have to take into account that most families choose to have more than one child, doubling or tripling the numbers. The old saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ might need to be amended to read ‘it costs a village to raise a child’.
The cause of this increasing rise in education costs is hard to pinpoint. There are a number of factors that compel schools to raise tuition costs. Usually, a price hike has nothing to do with profit. Most schools find themselves with more students than ever and a waiting list a mile long.
Bigger classrooms, overworked teachers (as we covered in our recent blog post Teachers Don’t Work Hard Enough? Think Again!), reduced funding and rising living costs all add weight to an already strained system.
For a school, reducing organisational stress through streamlined systems can help their bottom-line and ease the financial burden passed onto families. For modern parents juggling all the challenges that come with raising and educating a child, ensuring you’re adequately prepared for these costs ahead of time can also help make the transition back to school that little bit easier.