How Much Do School Supplies Typically Cost?

Sending your child to school is a costly affair. Although every American citizen has the right to avail  free public education, the cost of school supplies is to be borne by the parents. In recent years, a rise in the average cost of school supply has been observed. Therefore, parents look for means to cut down the cost while buying the best products for their children. A good way to do this is by purchasing school supplies online, they not only cost less but a range of items is also available. 

According to a survey, the average cost of school supplies for the year 2021 cost $500 to $800 per student. This is $100 higher than the annual school supply cost as per a survey carried out in 2020. 

Therefore, we have brought you a guide, lining out the average cost of essential school supplies. This also includes the ways to save money on buying school essentials. Read it through to the end to know all. 

Cost Of Essential School Supplies

School supplies vary from grade to grade. Students in high school will require different types and numbers of supplies than students attending middle or elementary school. The list just goes on and on, but, below is a list of essential school supplies along with their average cost to help you compare prices and buy the best items.

  1. Backpacks 

A backpack is the most important school item. Whether your child attends elementary school or high school, they will need a backpack. The cost of a school bag varies with the size and material. 

If you buy chair bags they cost less than the backpacks. While buying a bag, you also need to make sure the number of items your child wants to carry in it. It is advisable to buy one which will weigh less even if many items are being put in it.

The average cost of a backpack lies between $30 and $400. However, you can expect to pay more depending on the type of backpack you buy. 

  1. Pens And Pencils

Pens and pencils are without doubt the most needed school supply. You need to replace them now and then. Pencils are now available in several colors and designs which makes them more attractive for children.

Similarly, pens are available in a wide variety from ballpoints to gel pens. Their cost varies too. The type and brand of writing utensils highly affect their overall cost.

This also includes art and coloring pencils. They are usually sold for their ease of use and provide good color. 

The average cost of a pen or pencil ranges between 50 cents and $1. It is also better to buy these in bulk as they will cost less than buying a single one. 

  1. Books And Notebook

When buying a notebook for school work, you need to look for one with thick, neat pages. These contain highly bleached paper and cost way more than notebooks with unbleached or recycled paper.

The cost of books varies from class to class. To save some money, you can buy second-hand books online too. The cost of a writing pad varies with the type and number of pages it contains. The ring-bound ones cost higher than stapled notebooks. 

Therefore, you can expect to pay anywhere between $1 to $100 or more for a single notebook. 

Factors Affecting Cost Of School Supplies

Several factors affect the cost of school supplies. Understanding those will help you in buying school items for your child.

  1. Number Of Children

This factor highly impacts the total amount a family spends on school supplies. The more the number of school-going children, the higher the overall cost. Therefore, if you have to buy school supplies for more than one kid, buy in bulk. This will not only save money but your children will also not fight over different things.

  1. Children’s Grade

The grade your child studies in will determine the type of school supply they need. When it comes to children who attend middle or high school, they need laptops and calculators. These devices will put a strain on your school budget but buying them is inevitable.

The kids in elementary school usually need more fun and artwork supplies which again are quite expensive. Therefore, your total budget for school supplies will fluctuate as your child is promoted to a higher class. 

  1. Type Of Supplies

The number and type of school supplies your child needs also play a role in the overall cost of school items. Therefore, you should look for ones that not only last longer but also cost less. 

Tips On Saving Money When Buying School Essentials

To end the disparity between students and make a uniform learning environment, schools encourage parents to buy their children the same items as their classmates. This can disturb your overall school supply budget. Therefore, here are a few tips on saving money when buying school essentials for your child. 

  1. Look For Leftovers

Before buying your child the new school supplies, look for the leftovers in the house. You might be able to find a stack of notebooks or a pack of pens that you forgot earlier. Furthermore, you can see if the younger children can use their elder sibling’s stuff.

Make sure you buy the supplies required. If your child is enrolling in e-learning, invest more in a good laptop and earphones, than in art supplies. 

  1. Go Online 

It is suggested to look online before purchasing from a conventional book shop. When you buy online, you can not only compare prices but also get discounts. Furthermore, buying online offers a vast variety than buying from a single stationary store.

  1. Buy In Bulk

Make a list of the items that all your children need and buy that in bulk. These usually include pens, pencils, and notebooks. These supplies not only exhaust soon but also cost more if bought individually. 

Buying in bulk will help you save money. Furthermore, some online stationery stores even offer discounts on bulk buying and you can save more. 


Before going for school supply shopping, make a list of the number and type of items required. This will prevent you from buying non-essential items and focusing on those needed. 

When buying school supplies, compare the prices first, look for discounts and buy in bulk. This way you can save money and buy good items for your kids.