Back-to-school costs for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade are expected to increase by as much as 6 percent this year, according to the 2012 Huntington Backpack Index released Wednesday by Huntington Bank.
The annual survey cited small hikes in the cost of common supplies, as well as significant instrument rental fee increases, as factors in the added burden on family budgets. The findings include the following:
- Elementary school costs per student rose 3.4 percent, from $530 to $548.
- Middle school costs per student rose 5.8 percent, from $684 to $724.
- High school costs per student rose 2.2 percent, from $1,093 to $1,117.
The index is based on school supply lists collected in the six states where Huntington Bank operates – Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia and Kentucky – and the cost of those supplies at major online retailers such as Staples and OfficeMax.
Back-to-School Budget Tips
Huntington Bank offered the following tips to help parents get a handle on their back-to-school budgets:
- Check with your local school districts to find out what supply needs you might help support.
- Assess your charitable network for opportunities to support students with classroom and extracurricular supplies.
- If you have a musical instrument or instruments unlikely to ever be used again in your household, consider donating it to a local school music program or arts education nonprofit. Or loan it out personally to a student you know.
- If you have outgrown sports equipment in storage, check with a local school team to see if they can use it.
- Consider joining or forming a “booster” organization for a local school extracurricular organization, even if you don’t have school-age children participating.
- Because “booster” nonprofits supporting school group activities are independent from the school system, make a financial donation if you have the means and interest to do so.
- Look within your workplace for corporate fund-raising opportunities that can benefit your local school programs.
"Too often, families don’t have a complete picture of the costs to prepare their children both for the classroom and for participation in the many extracurricular activities that interest them," said Mary Navarro, Huntington Bank senior executive vice president, retail and business banking director. "Costs did increase again this year so families will need to make smart budgeting choices together."
Cost of Basic Supplies in Our Area
Back-to-school supply lists can seem neverending, but here are five items that are likely to make every child’s supplies list:
- Number two pencils
- Single subject notebook
- Pocket folder – for all of those handouts!
Below are prices, based on the store's web sites or managers, of the items.
At Office Max, a 12-pack of Paper Mate number two pencils costs $2.29. Comparatively, a 12-pack of Staples pencils cost $1.69, while a 12-pack of number two pencils cost $1 at Dollar Tree. Five Below, which targets pre-teens and teens with all merchandise priced from $1 to $5, sells a 10-pack of pencils for $1.
An Office Max single-subject notebook is $1.80, a Staples one-subject notebook is $1 and an 80-sheet spiral notebook at Dollar Tree is $1. A single-subject notebook at Five Below is $1.
A backpack at Office Max can run anywhere from $22.49 to $89.99. The lowest price for a backpack at Staples is $12.49 and the highest is $105.74. Dollar Tree doesn’t sell backpacks. A backpack at Five Below is $5.
A weekly/monthly wire-bound planner at Office Max costs $17.99, while a weekly/monthly planner at Staples cost $9.99. A weekly/monthly planner at Dollar Tree stores is $1. At Five Below, a weekly/monthly planner is $3.
At Office Max, a two-pocket folder will cost $9.99. At Staples, a two-pocket folder will cost $.49. A two-pocket folder at both Dollar Tree and Five Below is $1.
Remember, price doesn't always speak for quality so it's best to check the supplies in person. But hopefully, this gave some ideas!
Music Rental Fees
A substantial increase in typical musical instrument rental fees, from $299 in 2011 to $345 in 2012, also was cited in the survey.
The 2011 Huntington Backpack Index found costs increased by up to 25 percent from 2010, reflecting increased or new pay-to-play fees for sports teams and other extracurricular activities.
Mike Siberski, a sales worker at Farmington Hills' Anderson Music, said their cheapest rental is $16 for half size and three-quarter size violins and 13 or 14 inch violas. He said all rentals are monthly.
"It's $25 for the full size violin 4/4 and 15 or 16 inch violas," he said. "It is $30 plus tax for the flute, clarinet, coronet, trombone and bell kit, which is the starter kit for percussions."
Siberski said renting half size and three-quarter cellos costs $35 and renting obos, alto saxophones and full size cellos costs $45.
The most expensive instruments for rent are $55 plus tax for the French horn, the baritone and the double bass.
Siberski said there were no changes in rental price since last year.
"Our string instruments have gone down in price since two years ago," he said.