How schools can ease the pressure on families facing financial stress

A growing number of Australians lack confidence in their financial position and are worried about meeting household expenses, according to AMP’s 2016 Financial Wellness Report.

And it’s not just a problem for low-income households—the report indicates financial stress for high-income earners (earning $150,000 and above) has doubled over the past two years. Bad debt and the pressure of planning for retirement and providing for families were top concerns, while the fear of missing bills and mortgage payments was exacerbating this stress.

Meanwhile, a recent article in The Age said that for families with school-aged children, the mounting expenses required at the start of the new school year, including books and uniforms, camps and sporting commitments, could be overwhelming.

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino commented that the situation would become even more difficult for families with children returning to school this year following the federal government’s scrapping of the School Kids Bonus.

Australian Scholarships Group CEO Chief executive John Velegrinis said while computer and transport costs had dropped, additional activities such as camps and excursions, and uniforms were on the rise.

“Struggling families were avoiding buying houses, new cars and enrolling their kids in sporting activities in order to cover the climbing school fees. The cost of sending a child to school is becoming more problematic. It’s putting more pressure on household budgets.

“In the private school world, we’re having increases of 64 per cent over 10 years, but the average income has risen by about two thirds of that, at 40 per cent. In real terms, education is taking up a bigger slice of the household budget.”*

How can schools ease the pressure on families already facing financial stress?

No school wants to see families suffer or leave the school due to financial stress. And for school administrative staff, collecting overdue fees is not enjoyable. Staff can feel overwhelmed by the ongoing cycle of debt recovery while late payments and bad debt can throw school cash flow budgets into total disarray.

What’s the solution for schools?

  • Give families the option to pay their fees over the year in more manageable portions via direct debit billing. Using a solution like PaySmart can transform your school’s cash flow from sporadic to consistent and make school fee payments more affordable for families.
  • Provide an affordable payment plan that parents can actually meet—a win-win scenario for the families and school.
  • Take advantage of the support provided through PaySmart’s comprehensive debtor management system—if a payment is missed, PaySmart will do the follow up on your behalf, giving your staff more time to focus on school business.

To find out more about how PaySmart can help your school get on the front foot with cash flow and debt recovery, contact PaySmart today.