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Almost $73k to put a child through public school: Coast families bear education burden

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New research has revealed just how much parents and caregivers can expect to pay for a child’s education on the Sunshine Coast.

The Futurity Investment Group’s Investment in Education Index estimates the total cost of 13 years schooling, for a child starting in 2024.

The report found that the total cost of putting a student through government education in regional Queensland, including on the Sunshine Coast, would be $72,670 (an increase of $4073 compared to last year).

The cost for Catholic education would be $163,552 (an increase of $8891), and the cost for independent education would be $208,164 (an increase of $11,288).

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Among the most expensive schools on the Sunshine Coast are Sunshine Coast Grammar, Matthew Flinders Anglican and St Andrew’s Anglican, where one-year costs for a Year 12 student can be about $20,000.

Other Coast schools with high-range costs include Montessori International and Immanuel Lutheran (about $15,000), Pacific Lutheran and Good Shepherd Lutheran (about $12,500), Caloundra Christian, Peregian Beach College, Glasshouse Christian, Nambour Christian, Suncoast Christian and Coolum Beach Christian (about $10,000).

Others include Siena Catholic, St Theresa’s Catholic, Unity and St John’s (about $5000).

Cost can be a barrier education pathway choices. Picture: Shutterstock

Rising prices are associated with school fees, tuition, electronic devices, transport, school camps, sports equipment and musical instruments.

Education in regional Queensland is less expensive than the national average but Futurity Investment Group CEO Sam Sondhi said escalating costs placed a burden on families around the country.

“Households are already stretched by spiralling cost-of-living and interest rate pressures,” he said.

“With less discretionary money to spend, it’s going to be a challenge for many families to pay for the total cost of education, which has jumped 6 per cent (nationally) in the past year.

“It’s forecast (that) school fees and a host of major school expenses … will increase upwards of 14 per cent in the next five years, and by almost 30 per cent in the next decade.

“Parents who have planned and saved for education will be in a better position in the long run and will be able to explore and afford choice when it comes to their children’s education.”

Mr Sodhi told Sunshine Coast News that the figures for regional Queensland “are a good proxy for the Sunshine Coast”.

And while education is less expensive compared to other parts of the country, local families would still be feeling the strain.

“Cost-of-living pressures are having a major impact on people’s household budgets, and education is on the list of pressure points for families,” he said.

He said the high costs were limiting the options for many when it came to choosing a school.

“Cost is a major barrier to choice of education pathway,” he said.

Some families aren’t sending their children to schools they would prefer to because it is too expensive, while others are sacrificing plenty to ensure their child can get an education. Picture: Shutterstock

He also said many households were cutting expenses on other things – discretionary and non-discretionary – to ensure their child could get an education, whether that’s through the public system or Catholic or independent options.

“Many families are making sacrifices to prioritise education,” he said.

“The majority of parents (85 per cent) value education and see it as important enabler for their kids.

“They are making choices and compromises in terms of how they fund education versus things like family holidays, bills and items.”

Mr Sodhi said there was an increasing number of students enrolled at independent schools, despite the heftier fees.

“It’s an interesting dynamic … people are probably paying for it but sacrificing (other things) to do it in this environment,” he said.

St Andrew’s Anglican College at Peregian Springs is one of the most exclusive schools in the region.

Expected cost of 13 years of education from 2024 (government, Catholic, independent)

  • Queensland regional, including Sunshine Coast: $72,670, $163,552, $208,164
  • Brisbane: $85,177, $204,197, $277,015
  • National metro: $92,710, $195,074, $316,944
  • National regional and remote: $80,303, $172,981, $221,501

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