More Than 1 in 4 Parents Are Spending Over $400 on School Supplies

Adult Woman Browsing Trough School Supplies in Store with her Daughter Preparing for New School Year During Pandemic - stock photo stock photo
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In addition to “revenge spending” on trips, clothing and luxury items, Americans will also be spending more on back-to-school shopping this year, a new survey from reports.

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Nearly half of the parents polled said they’re spending more this year than last year, and 43% are spending around the same amount as last year. The average parent is spending $272 per child, or $360 for the whole family. Twenty percent of respondents said they will shell out more than $450.

Here’s the breakdown of spending for a single child based on the survey of 538 parents across the U.S.

$0-$99 15%
$100-$199 24%
$200-$299 20%
$300-$399 14%
$400-$499 12%
$500+ 16%

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While 16% of parents plan to spend $500 or more per child, more than 66% of parents polled said they are seeking financial assistance with back-to-school expenses. This is evidence of income inequality, along with the harsh economic effects of the pandemic and resulting shutdowns.

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“The past year has been one of the hardest financially for families across the U.S.,” said Annie Kim,’s editor-in-chief, in an email interview with GOBankingRates. “Coupled with rising rates of inflation, some parents are looking for financial assistance to make sure their kids have supplies and clothes for back to school.”

Of those seeking help, 81% are looking for backpacks and basic school supplies, while 73% are seeking clothing or school uniforms. “Almost half need help with haircuts, yearly physicals and other services,” Kim added.

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Those in need of a hand can check with their local school district to see if they have backpacks or school supplies available for students in need. Often, parents will donate extra supplies to help others in their community. Also check local trading groups on Facebook; as parents clear out last year’s backpacks, clothing and shoes to make room for new, you might snag free items still in good shape.

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Kim also advised, “Check with local nonprofits like United Way or Salvation Army to see if there are back to school assistance programs in your area. Your neighborhood [house-of-worship] might also have special programs or drives to support students in the community during the back-to-school season.”

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Last updated: Aug. 24, 2021

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About the Author

Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing specialist who geeks out about finance, e-commerce, technology, and real estate. Her lengthy list of publishing credits include Bankrate, Lending Tree, and Chase Bank. She is the founder and owner of, a travel, technology, and entertainment website. She lives on Long Island, New York, with a veritable menagerie that includes 2 cats, a rambunctious kitten, and three lizards of varying sizes and personalities – plus her two kids and husband. Find her on Twitter, @DawnAllcot.
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