Sending your kids to school, whether it be in the public sector or the private sector, can be incredibly an expensive business, especially if you have more than one child attending school. The list of purchases can be overwhelming – uniforms, books, stationery, bags, shoes and the list goes on! The Australian Federal and State Governments do have some handy refunds and tax breaks available to help ease the pressure, so here’s a few schemes you may or may not have been aware of.
The Education Tax Refund – This is a nationwide scheme which was established to help families with the costs of educating primary and secondary school students. Eligible families (receiving Family Tax Benefit A) can receive a refund of up to 50% on a range of school expenses, including textbooks, stationery, uniforms, laptops/computers and internet access, printers and also the maintenance and repair of computer equipment. The refunds are capped, but change every year depending on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). For more information and to check if you are eligible go to the Education Tax Refund website.
The Assistance for Isolated Children (AIC) Scheme – This scheme applies to those families with primary or secondary students who cannot go to an appropriate school due to geographical isolation, disability or special health need. It can also also help families isolated from an appropriate school where the school-aged student is undertaking a tertiary course instead. For more information go to the Assistance For Isolated Children page at the Australian Government’s Department of Human Services website.
Textbook and Resources Allowance (Queensland) – This is provided by the Queensland government to parents of secondary school students attending state and approved non-state schools in Queensland to help with the cost of textbooks and learning resources. For more information visit the Queensland Government’s DET website.
School Start Bonus (Victoria) – This is available to parents and carers (who are holders of a Veterans Affairs Gold Card, Health Care card, Pensioner Concession card or who are foster parents) of children starting Prep or Year 7. This is a one-off bonus of $300. For further information and to check eligibility go to the Victorian Government’s DEECD website.
Education Maintenance Allowance (Victoria) – This allowance is shared between low-income families with school-age children and the school they attend. Those eligible are parents and legal guardians who are holders of Veterans Affairs Gold Card or eligible for a Health care card or a Pensioner Concession Card, or foster parents. For more information on the Education Maintenance Allowance, go to the Victorian Government’s DEECD website.
School Card Scheme (South Australia) – This scheme provides assistance for low-income families attending government and non-government schools. Proof of income must be provided. For eligibility please go to the SA Government Website.
Secondary Assistance Scheme (West Australia) – This is available to secondary students whose parents hold Centrelink Family Health Care or Pensioner Concession Cards or Veterans’ Affairs Pensioner Concession Cards. For more information on eligibility go to The WA Department of Education website.
Student Assistance Schemes (Northern Territory) – The NT government has several schemes available including an isolated student assistance scheme and various travel assistance schemes. For more information go to the Northern Territory DET website.
Student Assistance Scheme (Tasmania) - This scheme provides assistance for low-income families towards the cost of levies for students enrolled from kindergarten to senior secondary level attending either government or registered non-Government schools or colleges. It is means-tested, was recently expanded to include grandparents who are the main carers for their grandchildren. For more information go to the Tasmanian Government’s Department of Education website.
Secondary Bursary Scheme (Australian Capital Territory) – This scheme provides financial assistance to support low-income families with education expenses for students in years 7-10. For more information go to the ACT DET website.
There are also several other schemes offered by each state education department which can assist with travel, indigenous families and scholoarships. Please contact your state’s Department of Education for further information regarding these.