In the days leading up to school starting, parents across America start shopping for school supplies. Lists in hand, they set out on the scavenger hunt to stores to get everything their kids will need while marveling at the high cost of all their children require. However, while backpacks, notebooks, and countless bottles of hand sanitizer add up, a large cost for parents stems from their children’s extracurricular activities.
Each year, Huntington Banks and non-profit group Communities in Schools join forces to compile a yearly “Backpack Index,” an average cost of school fees, supplies, and activities for each level of school. According to Time, this year, the average cost just for extracurricular activities has jumped to $739, a seven percent increase over 2015’s average cost.
The cause for this seems to stem from schools attempting to balance budgets while offering a variety of activities. When the budget doesn’t stretch far enough, parents are asked to pay more. Parents with high school aged children who participate in sports are hit the hardest, with average sport fees costing $375. In 2015, the average cost was $200, creating an 87.5 percent jump over last year according to this year’s Backpack Index.
What should parents do when faced with costs they can’t afford but want their kids to participate? COO of Communities in Schools Steven McCullough suggests speaking with the school administration to see if they offer reduced fees or if parents can exchange volunteering with the organization for a decrease in fees. Parents can also utilize local websites to find pre-owned equipment, supplies, and other items.