For families, every fall is heralded by the ‘back-to-school’ banners and ads. While new clothes, shoes, and supplies take their financial toll, the spending doesn’t end there. Extracurriculars? Field trips? Tutoring? It all adds up. Add in the other necessities of modern education (forget notebooks and pencils and start shopping Microsoft Office and graphing calculators), and parents might as well start saving up for high school in the same manner they would for college.
...Okay, that might be a little overly dramatic. But with so many schools undergoing budget cuts and reducing the amount of supplies or subsidies offered, parents may want to be aware of these (increasingly) common costs:
1. Taking crafting to the next level
Back in the day, elementary school crafting consisted of some Elmer’s glue, safety scissors and construction paper. Nowadays, projects require a trip to a crafting store for all the materials necessary. Keep expenses low by shopping the leftover supplies at the tail end of school supply season.
n top of needing a computer for papers, research and other assignments, some schools may require specific programs and software to complete homework assignments. They might even need a tablet for school use (assuming the school doesn’t supply it). For those who are on their own, look for refurbished computers or--for a simpler set up--check out a Chromebook. Additionally, most mega-retailers offer student discounts.
Whether it’s sports, drama, or some other after-school clubs, they all typically include some extra cost...and rather than have a car wash to raise money, the fundraising falls on the parents. In addition to important consideration of how much time and money will be invested in extracurriculars, shop around for sales on the things which are not subject to school requirement (i.e. color, etc).
4. College prep
Advanced Placement (AP) courses are a steal in terms of college credit, but at nearly $100 each, they add up. Then add in the cost of tests like the SAT and ACT (with associated preparatory costs). Many schools will cover the cost of AP courses, however, and talk to a guidance counselor about subsidized pricing for the standardized tests.
For students with cars and licenses, most schools charge varying fees for parking. And, in some rural areas, districts are passing on bussing fees to the parents as well. Again, subsidies may exist, but carpooling or ride-sharing is another option for students.
6. Special occasions
Group trips, dances, prom, the high school experience has turned into a minefield of costs. Depending on economic circumstances, these have varying impact, but are worth having a conversation between parents and children.
What school expenses have caught you off guard--and what recommendations do you have for covering them?