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

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.

Ouch!

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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{ 162 comments… add one }
  • Mudassir Hassan November 29, 2016, 11:15 am | Link

    Hi,
    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?

    • BobinOz November 29, 2016, 9:12 pm | Link

      Ah, that’s a question you would need to ask of a MARA registered migration agent, I can’t help with this sort of thing. To find out more, see my page about Migration agents.

  • 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.
    Cheers
    Bob

    • 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. .

  • 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

    Hello,

    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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