GO
Loading...

Surprise expenses that bust back-to-school budgets

Parents may not get much of a budgetary breather between back-to-school and holiday shopping.

The average family with kids in grades K-12 is expected to spend about $670 on back-to-school shopping this year, according to the National Retail Federation. That total, up 5 percent from last year, covers a range of purchases from backpacks and pencils to jeans and sneakers.

Read More Expect to spend more on back-to-school this year: NRF

What's missing? Miscellaneous school fees, which can add up to hundreds of dollars—and often aren't negotiable. According to a 2012 University of Michigan study, 61 percent of middle and high school students paid a fee to participate in school sports. About one-fifth of those students paid at least $150. (And that doesn't count costs for equipment or travel.)

Not trying out for the team isn't necessarily a cost-saver, either. Some schools charge fees to participate in any after-school club, or for academic choices such as taking a lab science or an advanced-track course.

—By CNBC's Kelli B. Grant

Contact Digital Workshop

  • CNBC NEWSLETTERS

    Get the best of CNBC in your inbox

    › Learn More*

Ask the Car Chasers

Off the Cuff

Big Data Download

Selling the American Dream

Death & Dishonor: Crisis at the VA

  • A pedestrian walks past the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) headquarters in Washington, D.C.

    The Veterans health care system has come under fire as officials reap big bonuses while patients suffer. CNBC's Dina Gusovsky investigates.

  • America has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and that opens up the door for companies to have a captive market -- literally. One of those companies is JPay, which provides electronic money transfers and other services to about 70 percent of state prisons. But in order to get that lucrative state prison contract, the state takes a commission as well. Critics argue all the costs are passed down to families and inmates, often burdening them financially. CNBC's Dina Gusovsky Reports.

  • This photo shows the aftermath of the accident, including the burned out shell of a truck. The Lindner minivan was so crushed its wreckage cannot be seen.

    Fatal truck accidents happen nearly 11 times a day. CNBC looks at the causes, who's to blame, and why it gets little attention.