Kolb: Back-to-school costs are at all-time high


Summer always seems to go by in the blink of an eye. Before we know it, the days are shorter, the air is cooler and it’s time to send our children back to school. This change of seasons is also met with nervousness and excitement from kids and parents alike. New routines need to be settled into and supplies need to be purchased, putting a financial burden on already over-taxed New Yorkers. The Assembly Minority Conference continues to advocate for measures to alleviate some of these costs for hard working New York families.


According to the National Retail Federation, for the 2019-20 school year, parents are expected to spend an average of $696.70 on back to school supplies. This includes pencils, backpacks and computers. This is a new record high, with parents sending kids off to college expected to spend an average of $976.78. The trend shows that costs are continually rising, and for parents living in New York—frequently rated one of the highest taxed states—this is a yearly struggle.

Our Conference continuously supports legislation to ease these burdens:

  • A.6008 would exempt computer hardware, software and school supplies from sales tax during certain weeks;
  • A.4168 would provide a tax credit for course-mandated supplies for eligible college students to help cover costs tacked on after room and board; and
  • A.3585 would provide a tax credit of up to $500 for teachers who use their own money to purchase qualified classroom or teaching supplies.


The good news is, there are definitely options for parents to become savvier shoppers when tackling their children’s back to school lists. USA TODAY offers a number of helpful and easily navigated tips to make the start of a new school year a little less daunting, such as:

  • Comparing prices from different retailers. This has never been easier thanks to the internet, and most retailers offer coupons on their websites;
  • Taking advantage of free shipping when applicable, or even choosing in-store pickup to avoid shipping charges; and
  • Considering stocking up on items you’ll need throughout the school year. Back-to-school time is when retailers have the best prices available.


For many families across the state, settling back into a routine can be more hectic and stressful than simply establishing a new bed time, laying out the next day’s outfit and packing a lunch. According to a recent CNN report, 15 million children living in poverty in the U.S. don’t have enough money for basic school supplies. If possible, consider purchasing items for a local school drive for families who are struggling financially. Not only will you be helping your community, but you will also be instilling these values in our children. These acts will lead to more compassionate youth who are less likely to bully and more likely to spread kindness themselves.

What do you think?  I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, email me at kolbb@nyassembly.gov, find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter.

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