Private schools can be costly for families.
Private schools can be costly for families. Danielle Lowe

PRIVATE SCHOOL FEES: What you’ll pay on the Northern Rivers

NORTHERN Rivers parents are forking out less money for their private school tuition compared to the rest of the state, despite school fees continuing to rise 3.1 per cent nationally.

July's Edstart school fee report revealed the majority of the most expensive private schools in the region had increased their fees above the current inflation of 1.8 percent, but below the NSW state average of 3.7 per cent.

Shearwater Steiner School, Mullumbimby, came in as the dearest school in the region, at $8300 per Year 12 student, which was increase of 3.8 percent from last year's fees.

Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School at Ewingsdale was second with a total of $7476, which was an increase of 2.5 per cent, followed by Trinity Catholic College at $4985 including extras fees of $747 - which was an increase of 2.1 per cent.

St John's College, Lismore was next at $3360 a year including an extras fee of $530, which was an increase of 1.4 per cent.

Lastly, Xavier Catholic College, Skennars Head was $3302 including an extras fee of $230, which was an increase of 3 per cent.

The fees are a stark contrast to The Kings School in Parramatta fees which are $62,610 plus extras fees of more than $1000 per Yr 12 student a year.

The report further showed the private schools with the largest increase in fees were: Shearwater Steiner School, rising fees by 3.8 per cent, Xavier Catholic College, 3.0 per cent, St Mary's Catholic College, 2.7 per cent , Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School, Ewingsdale, 2.5 per cent, and Trinity Catholic College, with a rise of 2.1 per cent.

Coming in as the third most expensive private school on the Northern Rivers, was Trinity Catholic College.

Trinity was the fifth school in the region with the largest percentage of increase in fees, with a rise of 2.1 per cent.

Principal Brother John Hilet said while Trinity was among the schools to have extra school fees for students, $570 of the amount was towards students paying off their own MacBook Air laptop over three years, to own it outright once they finished school.

"Our school's fees are much lower the Sydney private school fees, which have gone up significantly," he said.

"We've deliberately tried to keep our fee increases at or below inflation, simply because we are aware of the cost pressures on people on the Northern Rivers. Significant numbers of families were impacted by the flood, just like we were, we are trying to do what we can to alleviate that.

"We also make it abundantly clear to parents that if they are having difficulties, please see us because we can work around those things."

Br Hilet said the school offered discounts for more than one child attending school, the second child's school fees are 22 percent less, the third is 40 percent less and the fourth is free.

"We are an independent Catholic school which means our school fees are slightly higher than system schools, because we have to provide some services that the system might provide for the schools themselves," he said.

Shearwater Steiner School, Mullumbimby was contacted for comment but did not respond by The Northern Star's deadline.

With more than 750,000 children attending private schools nationally, the report further found families are spending up to 53 percent on top of their annual tuition fees on extra education-related items.

Edstart chief executive and co-founder, Jack Stevens, explained why this finding was so important.

"It's clear education costs don't end with school fees -- most people know that with uniforms, books and stationery requirements; however,many realise the magnitude of their additional spending," he said.

"The danger is these extras are often unplanned, ad-hoc and can easily cripple a family budget."

With tutoring costs leading the charge as the most common additional expense, it is closely followed by overseas trips and technology.

The cost of tutoring ranges depending on the school year, with families forking out an average of $1215 per subject and $2276 per child.

"Our analysis found the extra tutoring spend is typically inversely proportional to school fee spend, with parents at lower-fee private schools allocating a higher budget towards tutoring," Mr Stevens said.

For more information head to www.edstart.com.au



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