Rising Costs + Greater Student Poverty = Empty Backpacks

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According to the latest “backpack index” released by Huntington Bank on July 29, the cost of equipping students to head back to school for the 2015-2016 school year will increase nearly 10 percent for high school students and could cost families with more than one child in elementary, middle or high school as much as $3,000 for school supplies and activity fees.

On average, parents can expect to pay:

  • $649 for elementary school children, a 1 percent increase compared to 2014
  • $941 for middle school children, a 2.5 percent jump compared to 2014
  • $1,402 for high school students, a more than 9 percent increase compared to 2014
The rising costs are expected to create a financial hardship for many of nation’s public school children, according to Communities In Schools of Atlanta, part of the nation’s largest and most effective dropout prevention organization. CIS cited new federal data indicating that 51 percent of the students across the nation’s public schools are low income.

“Low-income students are now the majority of kids in American public schools,” said Communities In Schools of Atlanta Executive Director Frank Brown, Esq. “We work closely with and in public schools and see that many students cannot afford a backpack or the list of supplies they need to learn. While teachers and many school districts do what they can to help students obtain supplies, we need do to more. By donating to nonprofit organizations like Communities in Schools or giving to churches and civic groups that hold supply drives each year, we can ensure all our students have the tools and support they need to succeed in school.”

This summer, many of the CIS affiliates serving 1.5 million students across the country are holding school supply drives or partnering with businesses to collect donations of supplies from customers. CIS of Atlanta is partnering with two Walmart locations to collect school supplies for economically-disadvantaged students through the annual Build a Backpack Back-to-School Supply Drive. The Walmart stores where donations will benefit CIS of Atlanta are located at 1105 Research Center, Atlanta, GA 30331 (Cascade area) and 844 Cleveland Ave, East Point, GA 30344. Donations of school supplies can be dropped off in designated bins through Aug. 31.

“Huntington Bank issues its annual Backpack Index each year to help families budget and save for the school year,” said George Mokrzan, director of economics for Huntington Bank. “With the ongoing slow growth in wages, it is difficult for many families to meet the rising costs of sending children to school.” Since Huntington Bank first introduced its Backpack Index in 2007, the cost of supplies and extracurricular activities has increased 85 percent for elementary school students, 78 percent for middle school students and 57 percent for high school students.

* For tips on how to save money this school year, click here.

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