WHETHER it’s learning an instrument, playing soccer or taking dance lessons, many children do extracurricular activities.
But when added on top of school expenses, the costs of educating and entertaining youngsters can quickly add up.
Meerschaum Vale woman Trish Rohweder has two children, Sam, 13, and Leilani, 9, who attend Alstonville high and public schools.
She said the school fees were “very reasonable”, but admitted it was the extra things which started to become expensive.
“My daughter does quite a few cultural activities,” Ms Rohweder said. “She is in the choir and plays in two bands.
"She plays the saxophone, so there’s the cost of the instrument and private tuition.
“And then there’s the sport.
“Things like school equipment, such as books and things, aren’t that expensive. We recycle a lot.
“They have to keep their shoes until they’re worn out, and it’s the same with school bags.”
However, a new survey has revealed life would be a lot more expensive for the Rohweders if they lived in a metropolitan area instead of on the Northern Rivers.
The survey, by Australian Scholarships Group (ASG), found schooling costs were significantly cheaper in regional areas.
Families living in major cities can expect to pay up to $80,000 for government schooling over the school life of each child.
Systemic education (for example, Catholic schools) costs about $217,000, while private schooling can be as much as $415,000.
But parents in regional areas pay about $68,000 for their child’s government education, $165,000 for systemic schooling and up to $303,000 for private education.
The estimates include school fees and activities such as camps, private tuition, music lessons, coaching, sport, drama, art and dance.
Uniforms, stationery, textbooks, school bags, computers, internet access and travel are also included.
However, Ms Rohweder said it wasn’t the lower cost that attracted her to choose public schools for Sam and Leilani.
“I am a product of the public education system, so I wanted to send the children to public schools,” she said. “If you don’t use them, you lose them.
“I’ve had no reason to be disappointed with the two public schools at Alstonville. They’re our local schools and we should support them.”
ASG’s general manager development, Frida Kordovoulos, said parents in regional areas were reaping “significant benefits in terms of costs”.
“There is a total cost associated with schooling, which parents may overlook because they pay for the costs in small, incremental amounts, but the costs add up, as ASG’s 2001 schooling estimates demonstrate,” she said.
“Parents who recognise the importance of saving for education and factor the total cost of schoolinginto their family budgets benefit considerably, as do those families who begin saving sooner rather than later.”
Cost of schooling
In regional areas (per annum)
Government education: $3614 (primary); $4039 (secondary).
Systemic education: $5466 (primary); $8993 (secondary).
Private schooling: $9015 (primary); $16,272 (secondary).
In metropolitan areas (pa)
Government education: $4002 (primary); $4657 (secondary).
Systemic education: $6401 (primary); $12,138 (secondary).
Private schooling: $12,917 (primary); $20,888 (secondary).
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