Back To $chool

What Going Back To $chool Costs

Decades ago, a student beginning a new year may have bought some new pencils, a pack of looseleaf, and if lucky, a new lunch box.  Now, school supply lists include cleaning supplies, boxes of tissues, hand sanitizer, USB drives, copy paper and more. A graphing calculator for a high school student can cost upwards of $80.

washington heights after school backpack index
This year, according to the Backpack Index, in the the 2016-2017 school year parents can expect to pay per child:

$659 for elementary school children, a 1.5 percent increase compared to 2015.

$957 for middle school children, a 1.6 percent increase compared to 2015.

$1,498 for high school students, a 6.8 percent increase compared to 2015

Experts say school districts have less to spend overall, forcing them to rely more on parents for things like markers, construction paper, copy paper and printer ink. While this is a hassle for middle-class parents, it’s a much bigger burden for poor families, who already struggle to outfit their own kids with supplies and clothes.

Extracurricular activities, such as sports, or music, adds another burden, running anywhere from $300 a year, to thousands. In New York City significant funding cuts for things like art, dance, and sports means many disadvantaged children won’t benefit from the kinds of activities that would help them develop a special skill, and some much-needed confidence.

A Story Problem

While figuring out how to fulfill those back to school lists, there is an added expense that can arrive in early October to mid-November, right around the time that schools release the first student progress report. If a child is behind, it can cost upwards of $50.00 for 45 minutes of tutoring. Some quick math tells us that over the course of the school year, let’s say for 32 weeks, that would set the family back $1,600. For a family that qualifies for free lunches the back to school costs described above can make up almost half of the family income in September. It’s easy to see how many might find those back to school lists hard to swallow.


At Exodus, the importance of supporting our most disadvantaged kids with tutoring, school supplies, and extracurricular activities cannot be stressed enough. A story problem, so popular in today’s math curriculum, would look something like this…

Q: If you have 1.1 million kids going back to school in NYC, and 41% of them are living in poverty, how many will need extra support?

Fill in the correct answer:

Ο A: 451,000

Ο B: Too many

Ο C: All of the above

Operation Exodus is a community-based organization that invests all year long, providing free tutoring and mentoring programs, arts enrichment, and parent education, all year long.

Support Our Students This Year

Exodus relies heavily on generous friends like you, people who believe that every child has a right to a high-quality education, as well as the materials, supplies, and personal mentoring support they need to succeed. We’d love for you to join us for our “Juntos Podemos, Together We Can,” campaign this fall, as we work together to improve the outlook for Latino youth.

To learn more about how you can support our students this year visit our Donate Page.

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