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Stress of paying for supplies, fees equals excitement to school year start

Posted at 5:44 PM, Aug 14, 2023

MILLCREEK, Utah — It’s an exciting time of year for so many as kids head back to school but it can also be a very costly time of year, as well.

Unanticipated expenses coupled with inflation have many parents trying to figure out how to make it all work.

"So this year’s been tough," remarked Lauren Parker, a mother of two.

Those sentiments are shared by a lot of parents as they get their kids ready to go back to school.

"There’s a lot of costs involved in going back to school," said Parker. "There’s just a lot of different costs that add up when it all comes together."

The Millcreek resident's two children, 9-year-old Austin and 5-year-old Maddie. will be starting kindergarten this year.

"You’re excited for the kids to go back to school, excited for the learning to start again, but there’s just a lot of unanticipated costs that you have to deal with," said Parker. "It’s a costly time of year. It’s kind of like Christmastime, right?"

She says things like registration fees and additional costs when signing kids up at school are things they didn’t see coming.

And those added costs just keep coming.

"I think we all are used to the school supplies, but especially with inflation this year, I think getting the shoes, getting the clothes and all those extra items, the goodies, the backpacks and all of that, it definitely adds up," Parker said.

Some families say they’re just trying to make do this year, handing down backpacks and school supplies and using the same ones from last year. Other parents are trying to get creative with their budget to make it all work.

Lindsay Monson is a mother of five children, with three in high school, one in junior high and one in elementary. She says for each one it’s costing more to get them back into the classroom.

"We did registration this week and we’re up to $800 with all the school fees, not including some of the class fees that we’re going to be looking at later in the year, too," explained Monson.

Monson has tried a few different ways to cut back, like with groceries and choosing less expensive items for family meals.

"I do try to shop on different websites, like secondhand things or try to find things that are lower cost like with shoes and clothes and things, but it takes more time to do that kind of thing," she said. "It’s a high cost this year, especially with shoes. For some reason, that hit us really hard this year. Yeah, shoes and clothes.

"If it’s not in your budget, you just try to make it work. We’re a one salary family and so you just have to make it work somehow."

Adding to all that, public schools within the Salt Lake School District come with added fees at registration that come as a bit of a shock.

On Utah’s capitol hill, lawmakers have proposed bills to put a cap on school fees, with the exception of extracurricular activities. But for this year, considering the higher costs of gas and groceries, it seems to just be one more thing on the mounting pile of added expenses for families like Monson's.

"It’s a hard balance between getting ready for school and getting all those supplies and a budget that works, yeah, for sure."