Schools becoming more flexible with fees as inflation bites

Schools becoming more flexible with fees as inflation bites

According to recent data on the cost of schooling, the national average total cost of a public school education in Australia if a child goes to school from age 5–16 is a staggering $68,613.

With rising inflation and interest rates, many families are struggling to make ends meet, and this is something principals are cognisant of as schools themselves experience financial troubles.

Director of Business and Finance at Canterbury College in Brisbane, Johan Louw, has seen how economic conditions have impacted the school and their families.

“We see the last two years have resulted in increasing financial pressures on families and it has become evident, as structures of support and empathy in the economy are removed, the household budget is under growing pressure,” Louw said.

"Schools recognise that the economy families work in has changed so traditional payment arrangements need to be attuned to modern household incomes and budgets, and Edstart has created a solution in this space.”

Edstart CEO, Jack Stevens, said inflation will be a major factor on the minds of schools both this year and heading into 2023.

“It is driving up cost inputs for schools, as well as putting pressure on household budgets. Schools are continuing to try to strike the right balance between covering the ever-increasing cost of education delivery without dramatic increases to parent fees,” Stevens told The Educator.

To help families afford their child’s education in these tough times, schools are increasing their focus on providing flexibility on fee payments, which has driven the growth in schools turning to education technology and payment providers, such as Edstart, which has now funded students at over 600 schools, spread across every Australian state and territory.

In the past six months, the company has seen customer numbers more than double, with total payment plans issued surpassing $500m.

“By helping our partner schools give more flexibility and choice to families, we’re able to minimise disruption to students’ education and help reduce the risk of schools losing enrolments,” Stevens said.

Stevens said over 60% of families are using the platform through schools implementing their full fee management solution, where Edstart provides upfront payments to schools while families are able to choose their fee payment schedule.

“During this period, the need to provide parents with the flexibility to align school fee payments with their budget is more important than ever. And with schools also facing cost pressures, it’s important for them to be able to do this without impacting their budget and cash flow.”