8 Clever Steps to Managing School Fees and the Cost of Education

After everything 2020 threw our way, most families will be taking a good long look at the 2021 budget, especially now as we prepare for the return to school. It’s stressful to sit down and crunch the numbers. It’s even more stressful to realise that due to COVID, Christmas, and the uncertainty of what 2021 may bring, we may not be sitting as pretty as we like. 

For many families, the biggest living expense isn’t the mortgage or rent. It’s actually their child’s school fees. 

School fees on the rise (again) 

Leading education payment provider, Edstart recently found that parents of children attending non-government schools are, on average, forking out 35% of their income to pay school fees. This is more than what a mortgage imposes on the average Australian family’s net income. Crazy, right? 

School classroom

In addition to this, families are spending up to 53% on top of their annual school fees on extra education-related items such as school trips, private tutoring, technology like laptops and iPads, uniforms and extracurricular activities.

If you are feeling a wee bit tight in the hip pocket these days (and not because of the mountains of cheese you’ve consumed over the holidays), have a look at these easy ways to make school fees more manageable in 2021.  

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We’ve even got a great offer for our readers, thanks to Edstart. 

What is Edstart?

Essentially, it’s a payment plan for parents to pay education fees. Tuition, books, excursions – all those costs associated with school.

Rather than one large upfront cost to the school, Edstart can break payments down to make them more manageable. You pay Edstart on a plan that suits you and Edstart pays the school.

Easy peasy. There are no hidden fees, costs or confusion. If you are looking for a better way to pay school fees, Edstart may be perfect for you.


Sign up to Edstart using code MC2021 and receive a $50 cashback once Edstart has paid your Term 1 school fees of $2,500 or more.

Keep scrolling to find out more about Edstart and managing school fees. 

Tips for managing your school fees and education costs

1. Plan Ahead

Now’s the time to make a fancy spreadsheet of all the items your child may need for the next six months. This gives you a better idea of what kind of budget you’ll need. 

  • back to school items
  • electronics
  • uniforms
  • camps and excursions 
  • equipment for sport or extracurricular activities

2. Check for extra-curricular vouchers

Speaking of extra-circular activities, if your child wants to play an after-school sport, you may be eligible to receive $100 to $200 off (per child) thanks to Active Kids incentive (name varies depending on your state) but the programs provide financial assistance when paying sporting fees to families who qualify. 

Here is a list of the program in each state: 

  • Active Kids Program in New South Wales
  • Get Active Kids in Victoria
  • Sports Vouchers in South Australia 
  • Fair Play Voucher in Queensland
  • ACT Active Kids in ACT
  • KidSport in Western Australia
  • Sport Voucher Scheme in Northern Territory
  • Ticket to Play in Tasmania

3. Shop secondhand 

Brand new uniforms are CRAZY expensive. However, you can find perfectly good secondhand uniforms online through Facebook Buy and Sell groups, as well as Uniform Swap Shop, The Uniform Exchange, and Sustainable School Shop. 

Uniforms are often in perfectly good condition and a fraction of the new price, but just become obsolete as older kids transition into a senior uniform or grow out of them.

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4. Check supplies before you shop

Before you shop for this year’s school supplies, check what’s leftover from last year (or the year before). Chances are you won’t need to purchase many of the items on the list such as highlighters, rulers, dictionaries, binders and clipboards. Simply reuse the ones from last year and only shop for what your child needs.

5. Textbook swap

As your child gets older, you’ll discover the added costs of textbooks. Before you hit the bookstore, check Facebook Buy & Sell Groups, StudentVIP and Sustainable School Shop online.

Insider Tip: When I was in Uni, before buying textbooks, I used to check the library to see if they had textbooks and reading material there. They are free to borrow – just make sure you actually remember to return them! 

6. Shop smart with devices

When searching for an iPad or laptop for your child, ALWAYS price check. Many stores will offer a price match guarantee or even 5% off. A two-second Google search is worth it.

It’s also a good idea to shop during the sales such as Black Friday or EOFY sales. 

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7. Check your eligibility for the School Transport Assistance Scheme

This little-known government-funded transport assistance scheme offers subsidies to eligible families with full-time enrolled students travelling to school. The subsidy is available whether you drive your kids to school, whether they take a bus or even a ferry.

You can read all about it here.

8. Bundle your fees

By far the easiest way to smooth out your school fees is to opt for a payment plan like Edstart. Instead of forking out large upfront payments at the start of each term or semester, you can make smaller weekly, fortnightly or monthly payments to help take the stress out of the family budget.

Edstart: A better way to pay for school

Many parents rule out certain schools simply because of the costs.  Whether your child is in primary school, secondary school, or university, Edstart offers you a better way to pay off school fees and a stress-free way to stay in control of educational costs, even if your children attend different schools.

Edstart offers: 
  • Flexible payment plans
  • No-interest (on 12-month payment plans)
  • Extended loan options
  • Simple fee structures
  • Use for school fees and other education expenses

But what we especially love about Edstart is that they offer your child a chance to attend a school that will make a difference to his or her future without placing a financial burden on you.

Families can still afford to pay the mortgage, indulge in holidays or dinners out and afford an excellent school.

It’s all about balance.

Find this balance with Edstart and receive $50 cashback 

Now’s the perfect time to get started with Edstart, before the school year begins. They’ve got a special offer for Mum Central readers too. 

Sign up to Edstart using code MC2021 and receive a $50 cashback. Your account will automatically be credited once Edstart has paid your Term 1 school fees  (of $2,500 or more). 

Simply head to the website to do a free online calculation. You’ll then receive a personalised plan to cover your current and future education costs. Once your account is set up, simply forward your invoice to Edstart and they will sort the rest. 

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After the horror show that was 2020, we’ve all learned how unpredictable life can be. The good thing about Edstart is that you can stay in control of school fees, without sacrificing your child’s education or worrying about your financial future. If circumstances change, contact Edstart to change your payments. It’s that easy.

While we don’t know what 2021 has in store for us, we do know that, with Edstart, your children’s education is taken care of. 

This is a sponsored post for Edstart. 
Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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