Do Your Kids' School Activities Cost More Than The Average Parent?

Notebooks and pencils aren't the only expenses parents are worried about as the school year starts. Other financial needs quickly come into play, and any parent will tell you: The pressure is pretty high for these "extra" requirements. How much parents spend on their kids' school activities every year might surprise you, especially looking back at the margins between last year's number and this year's. The estimates differ from family to family but everyone seems to agree that the price is a necessity for their children's futures.

Looking at the bigger picture, back to school and college spending is up in a major way. Due to increased consumer confidence, families are expected to spend 10 percent more this season than they did last year, coming to an anticipated $83.6 billion (to 2016's $75.8 billion), according to the National Retail Federation. Families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average $687.72 each, but that's not even including activities and so-called "extras."

According to a survey conducted by Capital One, 37 percent of families estimate that they'll "spend over $1,000 per child on school and after-school activity fees this academic year," and 20 percent of families surveyed will "shell out more than $2,000 per kid." But these numbers, as you might guess, vary from family to family, and show different trends from region to region. For example, a New York City family might spend as much as $12,000 for the "music and sports lessons" that they believe are required "to get into private high schools" in their area.

So what exactly are these thousand dollar activities referencing? Think private lessons, sports teams, and intensives of any kind. MarketWatch did note that "the types of activities kids do seemed to affect spending," highlighting: "Parents of children who pursue performing arts, creative arts and STEM (science, tech, engineering and math) were more likely to identify private lessons or coaching as their biggest expense, compared with parents of children who play sports."

There's no doubt about it: Back-to-school shopping is stressful, but other costs quickly come in to play, too. In 2016, after-school activity costs increased by 7 percent, averaging about $739 per child. If schools are unable to sustain funding for activity programming, parents must shoulder the burden; Activity fees are no joke, and in order to promote a well-rounded student, engagement in sports, STEM, and art are the status quo. For many families, though, these costs are unfathomable. Unfortunately, these numbers will likely increase, further widening the gap between opportunities for students from low and high income families.