It’s not only the food bill that gets bigger when your kids transform from mild-mannered minors to lumbering teenagers. In New Zealand, each year, many parents struggle to cover the cost of sending their children to school.

While every parent wants the best for their offspring, many families find it hard to meet the demands. Schools and government recognize this and are working hard to lighten the load. So, before you search for a quick fix like a payday loan to cover school costs, here are a few ways to ensure you’re prepared for those new school year expenses.

There’s no denying that children are expensive. According to the ‘baby calculator,’ an online tool created by BNZ in 2018, the average cost of raising a child to the age of 18 amounts to approximately $16,000 a year.

And it’s not getting any cheaper. According to research firm IBISWorld, the cost of childcare, clothing, and footwear were the fastest-growing expenses between 2013 and 2019 in New Zealand.

The rise and rise of school costs

Whether you have one child or many, school costs add up. You can expect your household budget is going to take a hit when Term 1 arrives. With the addition of the BYOD (bring your own device), many families find themselves hit with a long list of purchases at the start of each year.

New uniforms, books, stationery, sports equipment, transport, excursions, camps, and school donations all come just after the dust has settled on the Christmas period. While some schools around New Zealand are helping to ease parents’ pressure by subsidising or removing stationery costs, not all schools can do this, and parents have to find the funds to cover it all.

Government help for school expenses

There has been some relief for parents following recent changes to the school fee system. The recent ‘no donations’ policy announced by the government will give New Zealand’s decile 1-7 schools a funding boost to cover the annual school donation. Rather than calling on parents to pay, the government will contribute $150 per student at low decile schools.

Government assistance or not, schools recognize the hardship families face. They’re working hard to minimize costs for parents by reducing extra events and excursions. For anyone struggling, the best place to start is at your school. They often have systems in place for those who need a little extra help.

The one thing you can’t afford

A good education can set a child up for life. So if there is one thing you truly can’t afford, it’s to hold your child back from school for financial reasons. Here in New Zealand, we are in the fortunate position where education is free at all state and state-integrated schools. Nobody wants to see a child kept home from school because they can’t afford the cost of a uniform or stationery items. With a little help from places like WINZ, or organizations like the Salvation Army, you can get your child set up for school and set up for life.

What to do now

Despite changes to the school donations scheme and options for financial assistance, many New Zealand families will still struggle to find the money for school costs. The start of the school year comes hard on the heels of the Christmas period, where parents often take extra time off work, and credit card payments are due. Finding it a challenge this year covering school uniform costs or working out how to pay for BYOD requirements? Here are some key considerations to make before the first class of the new year.

What to assess

1. School assistance

Find out what’s available to you. Work and Income assists with school uniforms, stationery, and devices for those who are eligible. You don’t have to be on a benefit to access this scheme. OSCAR subsidies are available to eligible families to cover out of school care costs. Most schools have their own systems in place for families who need help.

2. Short term finance

At Quick Loans, we regularly work with families who decide a personal loan is a better way to cover school expenses. This is a good option when you need a cash loan suited to your specific needs and circumstances.

What to avoid

1. Payday loans 

Payday loans are not a good way to manage school costs. While there may be very short term benefits, you are often setting yourself up for a long-term debt cycle. This cycle becomes very hard to get out of due to the high-interest rates and fees associated with such ‘quick-fix’ loans.

2. Going without

In New Zealand, no child should go without the opportunity to get an education. Investigate what options are available to you before you or your kids have to go without. Start by talking to your school and then look at scholarships, loans, or government assistance options.

As your children make their way through primary school and on to high school, you can expect costs only to get higher. Start thinking now about what lies ahead and work out a financially smart strategy. Opening a savings account, talking to a reputable finance company, or being smart with spending is a much better strategy than turning to a payday loan in desperation or, worse, going without.

More Information

If you want to talk to us about applying for a loan, please call us on 0800 200 275 or apply online.

Quick Loans can help you with all sorts of loans, including personal loans, cash loans, debt consolidation, and car loans.

This is not legal advice.

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