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.

For clarification: this article deals most specifically with the 457 Temporary Residents visa, but almost certainly applies to certain other types of TR visas. There are though certain temporary visas available for Australia for which school fees will always apply, most notably the Student visa (subclass 500) and, no doubt, some other temporary visas as well.

If you have any doubts about the school fees that might be applicable for the kind of visa you are applying for, please consult with a MARA registered migration agent.

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.

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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{ 198 comments… add one }
  • Sid September 15, 2017, 2:29 am | Link

    Hi Bob,
    I have 309 Temp Partner visa sponsored by my wife who has a PR under 190.
    I now want to bring over my kid from a previous marriage- because his mom has a terminal condition.
    Question: should I directly apply for his 101 or 445 or (as some agent suggested) get him here in a visitor and then apply for Child Visa. Does the Bridging Visa allow him to study, as he came on a visitor visa? And if yes, will he be paying fees international rates. This is for Vic.
    Thanks

    • BobinOz September 15, 2017, 8:27 pm | Link

      I’m afraid I cannot answer these kinds of questions, only MARA migration agents are legally allowed to do that. See Would I Qualify?

  • Geoff Tye August 31, 2017, 11:24 am | Link

    Hi bob my wife and two kids have just been granted temporary residence visa we live here in vic is there any fees to be paid for the kids to go to public school ? I believe there difinately would be for catholic school cheers

    • BobinOz August 31, 2017, 11:25 pm | Link

      Yes, I think you would have to pay for a Catholic school, but for public, it depends on what type of visa are you coming over on.

      If it is a 457, then my understanding is that you won’t need to pay for your children’s public school education, if it’s any one of the other kinds of temporary visas, you would probably need to check with either the education department or a MARA agent.

  • Jayne August 24, 2017, 12:19 pm | Link

    Hi Bob (and the readers!)
    We are currently working on migrating to QLD (Brisbane) Australia through Provisional Visa subclass 188, and I have been researching about education for my 5-year-old boy. I just want to ask if we would have to pay school fees to enroll in a state school? Our MARA is currently on medical leave, and so I thought to post my question here as I have been getting more and more confused with what I have been reading and researching. I did what you suggested (googled State school fees for temporary visa holders in Queensland), and this was what showed up: https://eqi.com.au/pdfs/trac-fee-structure-and-exemptions.pdf ; but as I was reading it, it seemed to be directed to holders of temporary resident on student visas? Any enlightenment on this issue by you or your readers will be most appreciated!

    • BobinOz August 24, 2017, 8:44 pm | Link

      Yes, very confusing isn’t it? I had a look at that PDF, I can’t really make out what it is referring to, but this article here is most specifically about the 457 visa.

      I do know that the visa type you’re looking at is a business visa, and if you look at the government’s website about what you can do with this visa it does say that spouses are allowed to work and children are allowed to study. So that’s encouraging. But I’m afraid you will need to wait until you’re MARA gets back from medical leave to ask him for the actual answer about whether you would need to pay for that educational not, because only MARA agents keep up with all the latest rules.

      Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful, but good luck, Bob

      • Jayne August 30, 2017, 8:52 am | Link

        Thank you for the reply, Bob! Greatly appreciated!

  • afaz August 12, 2017, 1:11 pm | Link

    I have 17 years old son. I have 489 visa for south Australia. my son want to engineering in Adelaide university. I think I have to pay international fee. but after one year I will get pr then my son will be treated as domestic students in university?

    • BobinOz August 14, 2017, 6:33 pm | Link

      I don’t think so, I believe your son would need to be an Australian citizen to be treated as a domestic student, but I don’t know that for sure. You would need to speak to a MARA migration agent for clarification or try to get the information direct from the government’s immigration website.

  • Margaret August 12, 2017, 12:04 am | Link

    Hi I want to bring my two grand children 6 & 11 years old study in Australia. Is there any help to accommodate & what are the some requirements for this

    • BobinOz August 14, 2017, 6:05 pm | Link

      Sorry, but I’m really not sure what this might involve. I think your best option, as a first port of call, would be to speak to a MARA migration agent who specialises in student visas.

      You might even get help from my student expert, see my page about Student Visas, although I’m not sure he can accommodate given the age of your grandchildren, he may only deal with further education.

      Good luck, Bob

  • Sean McCarthy July 14, 2017, 9:21 pm | Link

    Hi,

    I am an Australian Citizen and have a 16 year old son who is currently studying in Papua New Guinea. I would like to bring him down immediately to school here in Queensland but have read that I can only do that once I have applied for a Child Visa (sub class 802) which may take up to 10 months, this visa allows him a permanent status.

    Is there another avenue or option I can take? as it is urgent for him to complete his studies, but preferably here in Australia.

    • BobinOz July 17, 2017, 5:29 pm | Link

      I would normally advise you speak to a MARA registered migration agent about this but I’m not sure this is a migration issue, because I spoke to my migration agent about a similar situation recently.

      As you are an Australian citizen, then I think instead of looking at getting a migration visa for your son, you maybe need to be looking into ‘Australian citizenship by descent’.

      I suggest you Google that and see what comes up from the Australian government to help. If you can’t find anything that helps though, then maybe you should speak to a MARA agent for advice.

  • 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

      • Fabiane Vieira Cunha July 14, 2017, 11:47 pm | Link

        Hi, everyone. Actually I’m student and have temporary visa. I have 2 kids at school in Queensland and I have paid $10,000 per year and per child.

        • BobinOz July 17, 2017, 5:47 pm | Link

          Yes, the student visas are completely different from the kind of visas we’re talking about here, which is most specifically the 457 temporary resident visa.

          So yes, just as you have to pay for your studies here, you also have to pay for any children you bring with you as well who need to go to school. I have made an additional amendment to the above article to make that clearer. 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

    Hi,
    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

    Hi,
    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.

    Bob

    • 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

    Hi
    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?

    thanks
    Ridhi

    • 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

    Hi
    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

    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.

    • Shahid January 10, 2017, 11:33 pm | Link

      Hi Mudassar
      Hope you will be in good health , would like have talk with you , can I have your email address, my email address is s_jabbar@hotmail.com
      Regards
      Shahid

  • 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. .

      • 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

    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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