State School Fees for Temporary Visa Holders in Australia

It’s been a long time since I wrote my post Cost of Living in Australia: School Fees, over three years to be a little more precise. In that article I said…

“First, let me make it clear that these are the fees that apply to Australian citizens and permanent residents. If you are here on a temporary visa then different fees may apply or you might get a grant.”

That information is still correct today, but when I wrote it originally I was reluctant to go into more detail because these are the kind of things that change very quickly and then, all of a sudden, I’m giving out incorrect information.

In reality though, I don’t think the information has changed very much at all since then, so I think the time has come for me to name states and territories, because this information is VERY important for anybody coming here on a temporary visa with children of school age.

Being aware of the following information is essential for parents as these sometimes unexpected school fees can throw the family budget right out of the window.

Let’s hand over to the teacher…

state school feesThe fees I am about to mention are applicable to those here as Temporary Residents (TR), the most common visa for which is the Employer Sponsored Subclass 457 Visa. These fees are nothing to do with Private or Catholic schools; they are applicable to state run government schools.

These schools are free for permanent residents and Australian citizens, but in some states holders of certain temporary visa classes are required to pay tuition fees.

But which states?

This is the current situation as at the time of writing:

States that will not charge…

  • Queensland
  • South Australia
  • Victoria
  • Western Australia – see update below

States that will charge a fee…

  • New South Wales
  • Australian Capital Territory
  • Northern Territory
  • Tasmania

And it’s not quite that straightforward either.

For some of those states and territories that do charge a fee, 457 visa (and some other classes of temporary visa) holders can often be exempt. At the moment, those in Northern Territory or Tasmania on a 457 TR are likely to have these tuition fees waived.

That leaves just two…

  • New South Wales
  • Australian Capital Territory

The bottom line is, if you’re moving to Australia on a 457 or other temporary residency visa, you have children of school age and you are moving to NSW or ACT, expect to pay for your children’s state school education.

There’s a hole in my budget

Imagine arriving in New South Wales, starting your new sponsored job whilst putting the final touches on your three kids going to the local state school. Let’s say your children are 5, 7 and 13.

The weather is great, you love your new job and the kids can’t wait to get started in their new school. Life is perfect!

Then you get a bill from the school for $14,500.


In Australian Capital Territory, that same scenario could lead to a bill in excess of $30,000.

Double ouch!!

Oh, and you’ll get that bill every year.

Yes, you definitely need to know what kind of school fees you might be in for.

My advice is search the Internet through the ‘knower of all things’, Google. Use one of the following phrases, depending which state or territory you are moving to. Hey, you can copy and paste if you want!

Search for…

  • State school fees for temporary visa holders in New South Wales
  • State school fees for temporary visa holders in Australian Capital Territory
  • State school fees for temporary visa holders in Northern Territory
  • State school fees for temporary visa holders in Tasmania

And just to be sure, I’d even do the same searches for Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia if you are considering going to any of those states because, who knows, the rules might change there as well.

You will need to know which visa class and visas subclass you will be entering Australia with and then cross-reference that with the state or territory you will be living in. That way you can find out exactly how these potential state school tuition fees might affect YOU!

Ah, there goes the bell; that’s the end of today’s lesson. Except for just one more thing.

United Nations Children’s Fund

According to a UNICEF fact sheet regarding the Rights of the Child, Article 28 states “All children have the right to a primary education, which should be free.

Seems to me the states and territories who do charge for children’s education in government run schools are out of line with Australia’s “fair dinkum” attitude.

For this reason, these state school tuition fees are an Australian bad thing even though I have put this post into my Cost of Living – Australia category.

Update: 2015

My thanks to Laura who made a comment below, apparently Western Australia have now introduced fees for some temporary visa holders. Looks like it’s (currently) going to cost $4000 per family regardless of the number of children. Cheaper, I think, then the other states who are making a charge, but it is still an additional expense to consider. For more information, visit:

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{ 183 comments… add one }
  • Tevi Obed April 6, 2017, 12:18 pm | Link

    Hi there, I plan to come to Sydney on a temporary work visa (sub-class 408). How much is the school fee for primary school students for 408 visa holders? Cheers

    • BobinOz April 6, 2017, 9:00 pm | Link

      The short answer is, I don’t know. The likelihood is it will probably be the same costs as for 457 visa holders, and at the time of writing this, it was about $4500 AUD I think, that was for state schools.

      To get a more accurate figure though, I would contact the education department for NSW. If it is a private school though, fees vary depending on the school. Cheers, Bob

  • Ibeaka Chinedu Stephen March 27, 2017, 8:03 am | Link

    am from Nigeria but i want to come to Australia to further my education. so how can i do it?

    • BobinOz March 27, 2017, 8:43 pm | Link

      You can get help with this from my page about Student Visas, but my understanding is that you would need to pay for your education here.

  • Allu March 24, 2017, 12:52 pm | Link

    I plan to apply 485 graduate visa in brisbane. Do i have to pay school fees for my children

    • BobinOz March 24, 2017, 6:59 pm | Link

      Sorry, I’m really not sure what the answer is on this one, I just don’t know what you can and can’t do on this particular kind of visa. Check with your MARA agent if you’re using one, or contact someone in the Queensland education department for an answer.

  • basanta katila March 23, 2017, 11:51 pm | Link

    i am from nepal. i want to educate my son in auatralia, he is in grade 10 and15 years but i dont know about schools and process of admission of international rules for grade 11. so please suggest me. thanks

    • BobinOz March 24, 2017, 6:41 pm | Link

      I can’t help you directly with this, but you may get some assistant from my student expert, see my page about Student Visas.

  • Archana March 10, 2017, 2:26 pm | Link

    I am on student visa on class 500. What could be the fee in VIC for 7 years old in public school.

    • BobinOz March 10, 2017, 9:12 pm | Link

      Sorry, I have no idea, I think your best bet would be to ask the school direct about this, that way you will get a very accurate answer.

  • Bob Beddows February 26, 2017, 11:25 am | Link

    Hi We are just going through our PR process and will be lodging soon. This will take us off our 457 visa and place us on a bridging visa until the final decision is made regarding our PR. My question is. Will we still have to pay education fees whilst on our bridging visa? Thank You.

    Kindest Regards.


    • BobinOz February 28, 2017, 12:27 am | Link

      Sorry Bob, that’s not a question I have the knowledge to answer, I would ask the school admin department to see if they can help.

  • Henrik Isenstrom February 18, 2017, 8:48 am | Link

    My wife have been invited to QUT, Brisbane to participate in their work but she will still be employed by her Swedish employer. She is recommended to apply for a temporary activity visa, subclass 408 (this replaced the old subclass 402). We have tried to find out if there are any fees if we have our children (10, 7, 5 years) in state school in Brisbane but have not been able to find any univocal information neither if there are any fees nor the size of any fees. Do you have any information in this case?
    Best regards

    • Mark February 18, 2017, 10:28 am | Link

      For QLD the answer is No, you would be in AU as a temporary visa holder and that state does not charge school fees..(it may change) You will likely have some costs eg books trips etc as Bob suggests above google State school fees in Queensland for temporary visa holders…Of course if there are no frees you may not find much about it ..So if you wnat ti be sure pick a school any will do and email them and ask…I have also found many schools do not ask for visa status, maybe that’s because they dont charge or maybe because they have to many other enrolment issues..

  • Ridhi Sharma February 12, 2017, 12:33 am | Link

    Hi there,
    we are on 485 visa and my son is turning 4 in March. would you able to tell me how much I have to pay for him if I want send him to primary schoold or kindygarten in Perth?


    • BobinOz February 12, 2017, 8:49 pm | Link

      I can’t help you that one, you would have to speak directly to the school or kindie.

  • laura heeley February 9, 2017, 1:00 am | Link

    I am moving to Brisbane and wondered – will I have to pay for childcare for my 3 (nearly 4) and 4 (nearly 5) year old’s? Is pre-school/ kindergarden free??

  • Mudassir Hassan November 29, 2016, 11:15 am | Link

    I am Mudassir Hassan i living in sydney last one year with 457 visa included my wife and two boys.
    6 months ago my family will back to Pakistan due to delivery of my new born boy.
    My question is now i will add my new born boy in my 457 visa now he is in Pakistan.
    How i will apply for online also how much expense?

  • Robert Savage November 29, 2016, 6:14 am | Link

    I am getting conflicting info on school fees for private schools on a 457 visa. One school I have approached are quoting me international student fees and another standard Australian fees. Does this vary between schools. Should have said all schools in NSW. I am just worried I go for the school quoting the Oz fees then when I start they say they’ve made a mistake and charge international fees.

    • Mark November 29, 2016, 8:38 am | Link

      The key word in your post is ‘private’; they can do it how they wish, within reason. Whilst you would live and therefore be a resident in Australia they could aver its not a permanent resident so charge international fees, similarly they could view it as resident in Australia even as semi permanent as a 457 is and say charge at Australian resident prices.. One private school may only have one set of fees..The international part was likely set up for students from oversees who may not have English as a first language and you could argue will cost more in time and therefore fees. I cannot see a situation where a child comes from overseas without residence of parents. It may be because you are applying from overseas and being very frank they are treating it as international. I imagine if you got here,went for a look round at the school, applied for the place they will likely not even ask your visa status as there is too many other things to deal with. Is the international / non international fee much difference at the same school I appreciate even 300 dollars will multiply per year. Finally if your torn between two establishments education wise and all other factors considered then it does come down to the money as a final pro or con you could try pointing this out to them. It depends if they need the intake, As I say my own argute option would be arrive and look round, It would be an over diligent enrolment that asked for a visa copy. Private schools will close soon for holidays till the end of January so if your arrival time is soon it negates the need to deal with it now. .

      • Robert Savage December 6, 2016, 3:28 pm | Link

        The school charging international fees were charging 6000 Aussie dollars on top on the basis that they didn’t get that contribution from the federal government. The other school didn’t mention it.
        Thanks for the advice looks like the fees will be the decision maker!
        I have visited the schools and it seems this is what they will charge unless I have a residency visa

        • Mark December 6, 2016, 6:20 pm | Link

          I noticed your visa comments, Bob had replied to 457 and so on If you come out under your own steam so to speak (though don’t lose the 457 option either convert do whatever it takes. Once you have you own visa instead of sponsored then the contribution from Government re fees will kick in …Heck the saving on fees will pay for your visa In case Bob had not said 😉 Get a wiggle on though…49… ..50 will make a drastic difference.

  • Ashley November 26, 2016, 7:16 pm | Link

    Hi I was recently planning on going to Australia to finish my last year of high school on a student visa. Is public school free for international students on a student visa?

    • BobinOz November 27, 2016, 9:15 pm | Link

      I think it depends on the kind of visa you come here on, so you would need to speak to a MARA registered migration agent about that. Pretty sure you cannot come here on your own though as a 17 or 18-year-old and go to public school for free, but again, you need to check these things with a MARA migration agent. They know the rules.

      Good luck, Bob

  • Sayed September 20, 2016, 6:26 pm | Link


    I have a daughter 2 yrs old, and We are living in Egypt. However, I’m divorced and I’m planning to send my daughter with her mother for education to Australia.
    Do you know if they can issue a student visa for my daughter and any kind of visa for her mother?
    If yes the school fees will be different than the temporary visa or the same?

    • BobinOz September 20, 2016, 9:03 pm | Link

      This is something you would need to ask my student expert, please see my page about Student Visas.

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