finance

How much does it really cost to educate a child?

ANZ
Thanks to our brand partner, ANZ

When cradling their newborn baby in their arms, I would hazard a guess that most parents aren’t really thinking about their child being grown up enough to walk through the school gates for the first time. And even though they’ve more than likely considered the upcoming cost of education, like most of us, the actual process of preparing and saving for a private education is often left too late.

And to be fair, for the first couple of years, I myself was so knee deep in nappies and sleep deprivation that all of my forward planning went into just getting through each day. But even then I was well aware that to put a child through private education is expensive. And it takes some serious discussion and investigation to choose what is best for your child. In fact, especially in the big cities, some parents are enrolling their children in specific schools upon birth because entry is so alarmingly competitive.

It takes some serious discussion and investigation to choose what is best for your child. Image: iStock.

When our son was in year five, I started to investigate the costs of adequate private schools. Whilst I had a ballpark figure in my head, I’ll admit seeing those amounts, doing the sums and realising how much it would impact our weekly budget was really quite an eye opener. It just wasn’t something we had worked into our already tight family budget, but it was something we’d have to figure out and figure out fast.

Now, whilst putting a price on a child’s life makes me feel uneasy, I’ve since learned that there is a price you can allow for over 13 years of primary and secondary education. And I’m not just talking about the basic school fees. Plus, being one of the largest household expenses, it only stands to reason that like your rent or mortgage, it really does need to be factored in to a family’s projected cash flow.

ADVERTISEMENT

My face when adding up all the costs. Image: Giphy.

To do so though, you should consider the unexpected “extras” not included in the school fees. For example, costs such as:

  • Music lessons
  • Extracurricular sports
  • Excursions
  • Camps
  • Extra uniforms; and
  • Tutors

All of these above are usually not included or factored into the school fees when you initially look into the costs. And as the children get older, the camps get more extravagant. One year they’re going on a $100 camp out in the bush and five years later they are flying to a seven-day holiday in the snow. These things can really escalate quickly.

I have subsequently found out though that using one of the online tools designed to help Australian parents plan and save for their children's private school education is extremely helpful. This is a great way to find the information, forecast school fees and start the planning required to help achieve the education we desire for our children.

Extra uniforms, library bags, music lessons... it all adds up. Image: iStock

Some of these online tools and calculators can provide a forecast of which school years will cost you more and which ones will be less expensive. They can also forecast how much you might need to save to cover your school’s fees.

Having the information available online made us, as a family, much more prepared and informed and the concept of being able to forecast and plan is truly a lifesaver.

Behind ensuring we provide quality and healthy food for our kids, school education is the second biggest financial concern for parents. And despite *24% of us believing that planning for children’s private schooling should occur between the ages one to three, only 10% actually do so. That’s why early discovery and planning is so essential.

*This figure is from ANZ's School Ready Research Report.

How did you plan ahead for the cost of your child's education?

00:00 / ???