Backpack Index: The Cost of School Supplies Dropped Across All Grade Levels

The decrease in supplies cost comes after a 10-year period where prices steadily rose

What to Know

  • College prep material costs increased 10 percent
  • Still, parents can expect to pay less for school supplies and other fees
  • Between 2007 and 2017, prices for supplies increased by about $10

Back-to-school shopping isn't getting more expensive for once, according to new survey.

The cost of classroom supplies dropped across every grade level ahead of the 2018-19 school year, according to the latest Huntington Backpack Index.

While some costs fell, college preparatory material costs increased 10 percent.

The index is an annual survey that analyzes the costs of school supplies and other expenses arranged by The Huntington National Bank and nonprofit organization Communities in Schools.

(Disclosure: Communities in Schools is a partner of NBC- and Telemundo-owned stations' Supporting Our Schools campaign.)

This year, parents can expect to pay less for students’ school supplies and other school fees than they did in 2017. According to index data, parents will pay about $637 for an elementary school child, $941 for a middle school child and $1,355 for a high school student.

A middle-income, two-child and married-couple family will spend about $13,000 per child each year, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data on the cost of raising a child. Child care and education accounts for 16 percent of that figure.

The decrease in the cost of school supplies will likely prove beneficial to teachers, as well. Ninety-four percent of public school teachers pay for classroom supplies, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

The price changes come after last year’s index revealed that school supplies became more expensive between 2007 and 2017. Over that 10-year period, prices for supplies increased by about $10.

Each year, Huntington receives classroom supply lists from elementary, middle and high schools throughout eight states and constructs a representative list of required supplies and fees. Then, it selects moderately priced items at national online retailers to determine the costs.

“We need to ensure that every child in America comes to school equipped for success,” said Dale Erquiaga, president and CEO of Communities In Schools, in a statement. “Regardless of reduction in cost,the price of school supplies remains a challenge for low-income families and for teachers who often supplement supplies for their classrooms. That’s why we bring existing community resources inside schools to make sure that no student starts out behind.”

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