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Education is one of the biggest investments you are likely to make to give your child a head-start in life. Therefore, understanding and preparing for the cost of education can make a world of difference in terms of the opportunities you can offer them.

For instance, the most prevalent barrier to parents’ choice of high schools for their child is cost. Once enrolled, the cost of schooling represents a substantial household expense.

 

Consider the table below:

Planning for Education

Total estimated cost of education over 13 years of schooling in Australia for a child starting school in 2021

Irrespective of Australia’s inflationary environment, the cost of education has risen at more than double the rate of inflation over the past decade.

Real wages grew by just 1.3% between June 2013 and June 2018.
 
With less discretionary money to spend, understanding and planning for these costs is important to pave the road for your child’s future. Use our Cost of Education calculator to get an estimate now.
 
The hidden cost of education
 
Contrary to the popular belief that Government schools are free, parents are expected to pay a voluntary financial contribution. The reasoning is that while administration of the standard curriculum program is free, schools can charge parents for ‘essential education items’ and ‘optional extras’.
 
Regardless of school type, the cost of education includes more than just fees and parent contributions. In fact, for parents sending their children to Government schools, these fees may constitute a relatively small portion with other ancillary costs really adding up. Many times, this comes as a “cost shock” for families entering the public schooling system for the first time.
 
For instance, our research shows that over the course of seven years of primary education, the estimated annual cost of education for a child starting school in the public system in Sydney this year will average out to:
· School fees: $433
· Outside tuition: $1,845
· Electronic devices: $513
· Uniforms and textbooks: $461
For families sending a child to an Independent primary school in Sydney this year, while also meeting comparable ancillary expenses, the bulk of the amount spent on education will go towards tuition fees – an annual average of $23,353.
 
For families with children in the Sydney Catholic primary system, our research shows the average fee and “voluntary” contribution to be $2,520 per annum on top of ancillary expenses.
 
The annual cost of schooling changes over the course of a 13-year school period. Secondary school fees are generally higher than for primary. And spending on older children for school camps and items such as sports equipment and musical instruments tends to increase for many.
 
Having a fuller picture of the cost of education and planning ahead can help to avoid, or at least cushion against, nasty surprises.
 
Unexpected expenses – the COVID-19 add-on
 
Recent Futurity research found that around one in three parents felt some, or a lot, of financial pressure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We discovered that on average parents spent an additional $808 per child on education-related expenses as a result of the pandemic. This amount included money spent on electronic devices, outside tuition and coaching, stationery, and textbooks.
 
Confidence starts with preparation

 

The best way to take control of your child’s future is to plan and save to meet future education costs, and the first step is to create a personalised view of the true cost of your child’s education.


Futurity’s Cost of Education calculator provides default figures derived from our research to assist you with an estimate. As you use it you will have the flexibility to make changes to the figures depending on your child’s stage of schooling, school type and your expectation of likely expenses.


About the research quoted
 
*The Futurity Investment Group Planning for Education Index is based on data sourced from a survey of 1,800 members on ancillary costs and public information on school fees, including the My School website. The data was also consolidated and analysed by Monash University.
 
The COVID-19 research is based on data sourced from a survey of 1,600 members in November 2020 on the impacts of the pandemic by Futurity Investment Group.
 
Further information about the research methodology, assumptions, and results can be accessed here.