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How to get help with school costs

Advice on school costs by Citizens Advice Stevenage

"My oldest child started school this month and, with uniforms and PE kits, the costs are already mounting. The school we got into isn’t within walking distance so I now need to budget for bus money five days a week too. We’re already pretty stretched, so I’m not sure how to cover these new costs. Is there any extra help I can get?’’ - Client’s quote

The start of a school year can be tough for many people’s budgets, so you’re not alone in your worries. But there is help available.

If you're on a low income or employed, you might be able to get help with some of the costs of sending your child to school, including school meals, transport and uniform. It’s always worth talking to your local education authority to see what support is available as some of their resources and offerings can differ. If you’re claiming benefits, it’s worth checking if you can get extra help for things like school lunches, transport and uniforms.

Free school meals

On the Citizens Advice website, we have lots of information on the support you might be entitled to for school-related costs.

Children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 automatically get free school meals. For older children, you can apply for free school meals if you claim certain types of benefits. The full list is available on the Citizens Advice website, and includes Universal Credit, Child Tax Credit and Income Support.


For children aged five to 16, your local education authority might be able to offer free or discounted transport if you’re not able to walk to the school. Contact them directly to find out how they can support you.

Uniforms and other costs

Your local education authority might also help you with activity and school uniform costs, if you’re on a low income. You’re probably considered to be on a low income if you get means-tested benefits like Universal Credit or Housing Benefit. There are also some local charitable schemes that can help - check with your school, as they will usually know if these kinds of schemes are in your area. Schools can sometimes also advise on finding cheap or free second-hand uniforms.

If your child is disabled or has a health condition, you can also claim Disability Living Allowance (this isn’t means-tested)

A lot of peoples’ budgets are feeling the squeeze at the moment, but it’s important to remember that help is available with school costs.

For more information contact: Citizens Advice Stevenage


Adviceline: 0800 144 8848 - Calls to Adviceline are free from mobiles & landlines

Location: Sixth floor, Daneshill House, Danestrete, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, SG1 1BY

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