The Increasing Financial Strain of Public Education

News | Posted January 17, 2024
The Increasing Financial Strain of Public Education

As Australian parents gear up for the upcoming school year, a recent study has cast a spotlight on the growing financial burden of providing a public school education for their children. The Investment in Education Index, released by the Futurity Investment Group, reveals that the overall cost of public education in Australia has surged by six percent in the last year alone. The findings, based on surveys from thousands of parents across the country, illuminate the significant financial challenges families face in ensuring their children receive a quality education within the public school system.

According to the study, the average expenditure for sending a child through public school in Australia is a staggering $92,710 over their entire school journey. In Melbourne, the most expensive city for public education, parents now find themselves paying $108,879 from Kindergarten to Year 12, marking a notable increase of $6,072 from the previous year.

While public school fees alone constitute a modest portion of the total cost (averaging $387 a year), additional expenses such as outside tuition, electronic devices, musical instruments, and textbooks significantly contribute to the financial burden.

The study also sheds light on regional disparities in the cost of public education, with regional and remote areas of Queensland and Tasmania offering more affordable options, priced at just over $72,000. This disparity underscores the impact of geographical location on the overall affordability of public education.

As if the current costs weren’t challenging enough, the study forecasts a continuing rise in public school expenses. It anticipates at least a 14 percent increase in the next five years and nearly one-third in the next decade. This prediction raises serious concerns about the financial strain on families, particularly amid the recent axing of the $150 back-to-school voucher program and the reduction of popular Active and Creative Kids vouchers in New South Wales.

Future Investment Group CEO Sam Sondhi expressed his concerns, stating, “Households are already stretched by the spiraling cost of living and interest rate pressures. With less discretionary money to spend, it’s going to be a challenge for many families to afford the increasing total cost of public education.”

With education costs set to continue to rise, attention is needed to address the affordability crisis, to continue to ensure that every child has equitable access to a quality education within the public school system.

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