Children are costly enough as it is, let alone without all of the associated school costs added on top. Saving money on school supplies, reducing costs on uniforms and being clever about re-using some of last year's gear are all ways to help reduce the back to school bill.
If you weren't already aware though, there may potentially be government and state aid that you can tap into as well to provide additional relief. So make sure you save money this year by knowing what refunds and tax breaks you can utilise to your advantage.
Assistance for Isolated Children (Commonwealth)
The Assistance for Isolated Children (AIC) is designed to help families afford the extra cost associated with educating their children. This scheme is designed to help primary or secondary students who are unable to travel to an appropriate state school because they are geographically isolated, disabled or have special health needs.
Assistance from the Isolated Children Scheme is not taxed and is free of income and asset assessments. There is more information available at the ‘Australian Government’s Department of Human Services’ website.
Secondary Assistance Scheme (Western Australia)
This scheme is available to both parents and independent secondary students who own concessions cards. If eligible, the Education program allowance will be paid either to the school or directly to you.
There are two parts to this scheme, firstly the uniform allowance that will contribute $115 towards your costs and a $235 Education Program Allowance for public school students which gets paid directly to the school. Find out more information on the ‘WA Department of Education’ website
School Card Scheme (Southern Australia)
This scheme in Southern Australian means that the families can apply for assistance towards educational expenses. Families that are eligible must have
- A child or children from age 4 attending school full time
- Independent full-time students in years 10 or 11 taking six subjects or year 12 taking 5 subjects
- A gross income within the School Card income limit
You can read more about the Southern Australian government scheme here.
Textbook and Resource Allowance (Queensland)
If you live in Queensland, the government will provide financial assistance to parents of secondary school students that attend state and approved non-state schools. The government’s contributions go towards the cost of textbooks and learning resources.
All money is paid from the government to the school and the school is responsible for distributing the funds. The allowance rates for 2016 are $121 per student per annum for 7-10 year olds and $262 for 11-12 years. To find out more information about your entitlement, visit the QLD government website.
Schoolkids Bonus (Expired)
The ‘Schoolkids Bonus’ scheme was introduced by the Gillard government on 1st January 2013, to replace the older ‘Education Tax Refund’. This entitled families to receive $410 per year for each child that was in primary school and $820 per year for secondary school children.
Unfortunately however, the Abbot government discontinued this policy from the beginning of 2016.
Education Maintenance Allowance (Victoria)
Beginning in January 2015, the government committed to providing financial support directly to the schools that needed the most support, rather than sending money directly to parents. The main changes in 2015 were the way money was distributed and that not all schools will receive funding.
The decision made by the commonwealth bank was done in efforts to benefit all students and more specifically help schools with increased disadvantages.
Public Transport Concessions by State
Each state within Australia will run things slightly differently from one another, but knowing where you can save money by utilising government subsidies is still monetary help we could all use. Travel subsidisation can be either completely free or only carry a small charge. Below is a short breakdown of what each Australian state provides in public transport subsidisation.
New South Wales has a scheme called the ‘School Student Transport Scheme’, which is designed to provide free transport from Monday to Friday for all primary students who are residents of NSW. The scheme subsidises travel on rail, bus, ferry and even long distance coach services, whilst also being applicable to private vehicles in areas where there is no public transport.
To qualify, residents must be over the age of 4 years and 6 months old. There are restrictions on how far certain age groups can travel, but if you want to apply it must be done through your school.
Students under the age of 16 years old in Victoria are entitled to a student card and concessionary rates on travel. If students are over the age of 17, then they must carry a concession card in order to take advantage of the scheme. Primary and secondary students are entitled, but they must be studying full time and attend a school, which has been approved. If you are a VCE or VCAL student studying at TAFE then you may also apply.
Search for your eligibility on the PTV website here.
Children between the ages of 5-14 living in Queensland are offered a 50% concession if they are full-time primary school students. Assistance is provided under the ‘School Transport Assistance Scheme (STAS), to help students reach areas that provide school facilities. To find out more information about the Queensland school transport system, visit their website here.
Children under the age of 5 and accompanied during travel will always travel for free. SA provides discounted rates to students and all of this pricing information can be found on the Adelaide Metro website. As of 11th January 2016, primarn, secondary, concession holders and tertiary students can buy ‘Daytrip’ metro tickets for $4.90.
Students are offered a ‘SmartRider’ card that provides them with an opportunity to purchase discounted tickets for public transport. Primary school students can apply for a card that will cost them $5.00 whilst secondary school students can receive cards from their school if it is registered. Alternatively secondary school students can also buy a card for $5.00.
All types of students from primary school (including transition) up to university (including part-time studying) can travel for free 7-days a week. Travel must be on all scheduled services within the Northern Territories existing school and public bus network.
In Tasmania, all students must have on their person a student buss pass that entitles them to free travel for two one-way journeys per day. Children under the age of 16 are eligible to travel using a student/child fare, providing they show proof of a Metro-approved student ID card.