Costs and financial assistance
Education is free in New Zealand state schools and kura, but you should be prepared to pay for school uniforms, stationery supplies and extra activities. Some state-integrated schools also charge fees, as do private schools. It pays to check all the costs before you enrol.
- Do I need to pay school fees?
- Is there anything I do have to pay for?
- What about donations?
- What financial assistance can I get? Scholarships and subsidies.
- What can I do if I’m not happy about the costs I’m being charged?
It depends on the kind of school.
- State schools: do not charge school fees - education in New Zealand state schools is free
- State-integrated schools: proprietors of state-integrated schools usually charge a compulsory fee called 'attendance dues'. The proprietor provides land and buildings for these schools, and this fee is for property costs.
- Private schools receive limited government funding, so they do charge a set fee each term, or for the year. The fees should be clearly set out in their enrolment information or prospectus.
You should be prepared to pay for:
- stationery such as exercise books, pens, pencils
- school uniforms
- before-school and after-school care if you need it.
If you can’t afford a school uniform or stationery or care outside of school hours, this should not hold back your child’s education. You might be able to get financial assistance.
You might also be asked to pay for voluntary activities or events such as weekend or after-school sports.
The school can charge for voluntary activities or events only if they have told the parents beforehand, and the parents have agreed to pay them.
If an activity or item is a part of the school’s curriculum (like seeing a play students will be assessed on, a camp or trip, or a school report), then your child has a right to be included whether or not you pay any voluntary donations.
If the activity or event isn’t part of the school’s curriculum (like a sports event, or a school social event) the school can exclude your child if you do not pay.
Schools may ask parents or caregivers for donations, which are voluntary contributions to help with running the school. It is not compulsory to pay donations.
Donations can be for general purposes, or tagged for a specific item such as a camp, a classroom subject, or a trip.
Out of School Care and Recreation (OSCAR) Subsidy
Out of School Care and Recreation (OSCAR) Subsidy is a payment which helps families with the costs of before- and after-school programmes, and school holiday programmes. It helps with the costs of before- and after-school programmes for up to 20 hours a week, and school holiday programmes for up to 50 hours a week.
Work and Income oversees the OSCAR subsidy. Find out if you are eligible and how to apply.
School and Year Start-up Payment
The School and Year Start-up Payment is a payment to carers of someone else's child to help with the costs that mostly happen at the beginning of the year, in particular pre-school and school-related costs such as clothing, school fees and stationery.
Work and Income oversees the School and Year Start-up Payment subsidy. Find out if you are eligible and how to apply.
Some private and independent schools provide financial assistance to students and their families through bursaries and scholarships.
Selection criteria vary depending on the scholarship, for example, there might be an exam for an academic scholarship or an audition for a music scholarship. Schools will usually interview scholarship candidates as part of the selection procedure, and they might consider the applicant’s progress over the years.
Some scholarships provide opportunities for children who might not otherwise be able to attend private or independent schools, by covering all or some of their school fees.
Some scholarships have been endowed or given in honour of the school’s centenary or as a memorial, and there may be certain conditions attached. Parents whose child is offered a scholarship should discuss the requirements of that particular scholarship with the school.
In the first instance you should talk to the principal. You should not be made to feel like you have to pay any voluntary donations.
If you are not happy with the result of your conversation with the principal you can make a complaint to the board of trustees.
You can also contact your local Ministry of Education office for advice.
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