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Back to School: Fees and 5 Other Things to Plan For Today
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Back to School: Fees and 5 Other Things to Plan For Today

Parents with their children flock Savani’s Book Centre in downtown Nairobi to purchase textbooks yesterday. PHOTO|PD|JOHN OCHIENG
Parents with their children flock Savani’s Book Centre in downtown Nairobi to purchase textbooks yesterday. PHOTO|PD|JOHN OCHIENG

It's always exciting for children to go back to school after a long break. While your kids may be overly excited or anxious about their new classes, teachers, and classmates, the days before school starts can often be stressful for you. 

Depending on what level of education your child is in, you may have just a few days to plan for back to school or a few weeks.

If your child is a continuing learner, meaning that they are not transiting to a higher level of learning, the reporting dates are set for January 23, so you may not have much time to plan and have to act immediately. It is possible that you may even need to take a loan to pay school fees or buy essentials. 

If they are joining Grade 7, the reporting date is set for January 30, so you may have the advantage of using your salary to offset some expenses - including new uniforms as directed by the education ministry. 

For those with learners reporting to Form One, you have up to between February 6, and February 13, 2023 to get your finances and everything else ready. 

Do you have a student in university? While university calendars do not exactly conform to the primary-secondary school calendars, they are always provided way ahead of time and expenses - including student upkeep estimates.

We've compiled a list of essential things you need to plan for to help you be organised and adequately prepared.

School Fees

This is often the highest expenses and most essential planning item that haunts every parent every time the back to school season sets it. 

If your child is joining school for the first time or is being admitted into a new school, you may be required to pay their school fees in full. Some institutions could even require you to pay fees for the entire school year and some “joining fee” which the Ministry of Education has instructed should not be charged by any public school admitting new learners. 

Some schools could give you more time to pay your fees out of goodwill. That is in the form of instalments. However, your child can be sent home if the deadline is missed. Often, you will need to have cleared the balance before or immediately after the half-term break or before the end of term examinations. It is important to be well aware of how much wriggle room you have. 

Even with the government school fee subsidy, school fee amounts can quickly add up, especially if you have more than one child going back to school or in boarding school.

Do you feel prepared? Do you have all of the required cash on hand or only some of it? Will you be able to obtain the necessary funds in time to eliminate the unfortunate possibility of your kids being sent home? 

Providing kids with the best education can be very expensive. And sometimes, for practical reasons, you may just not be able to afford the fancy expensive schools, or even that moderately priced ‘academy’ in your neighbourhood that all your friends are taking their kids to.

So, indeed this back to school season, it is within your options to actually find a school that can fit within your current budget. If you have to move them back to a public school, a cheaper boarding school or a decision to this effect that minimises the financial burden but does not necessarily compromise on cost, then you may be forced to do it. 

Now, maybe you have the school fees for term one. For example, you may have saved your 2022 bonus for this, or are awaiting your Sacco dividends etc. to cater for this. But, do you have the money for the rest of the terms?

It is not too early to start thinking about how you will raise school fees in the coming terms. Planning ahead if time will save you a lot of the pain associated with the feeling of failing your children. 

School Uniform

It's no secret that kids grow so fast. So, the back-to-school season is a great time to check your child's school clothing and add any missing items. 

Check to see if the sweater, trousers, and skirts/dress from last year still fits, and if not, head out shopping as soon as possible.

The likelihood of hearing the distraught: "Mum/dad, my dress doesn't fit me!"  at 7 am on the first day of school will be greatly reduced by ensuring that part is checked and settled.

It is not unheard of for a boarding school child to only reveal at the very last day that they lost a shirt, pair of shoes, trousers/skirts during the previous term. You can’t afford to be caught flat footed on these things especially in a period when retailers hike prices of uniforms to make a killing. 

There aren't any ideal numbers or sets of uniforms to buy for your kids. Get only what works for your household and your spending plan.

In addition, your child's needs will vary according to their age, gender, level of activity, where you live, etc.

For some, your school may provide you with a uniform list which is always very helpful. Here are some things to think about as you create your back-to-school checklist. 

  • Shirts and T-shirts
  • Trousers or shorts or skirts
  • Sweaters
  • Belt, if needed
  • Shoes and Socks
  • Tracksuits for PE and games

For some schools you might also need;

  • Ties
  • Blazers
  • Warm hoodies
  • Swimming kits

There is no need to replace items from last year if they still fit and your children are attending the same schools they were in. While your kids may want new shoes, brand new uniforms etc., it is very important that you stay on budget when existing ones do not necessarily need replacing - however much you want to make them happy. Help them understand when you cannot meet their requests. 


Request a detailed list of back-to-school supplies from your child's school before you start shopping (most schools have lists of the books needed for the school term/year). Don't assume that the supplies your child needs will be the same as their sibling who was in that grade previously. 

These items may change significantly from year to year, even within the same school. Get the list from the school to avoid wasting time and money on purchases that are not relevant.

You may also require one or more of the following items:

  • Calculator 
  • Pens and pencils
  • Crayons
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Exercise books
  • Textbooks/ revision material

Back to School Shopping

For kids, a new school bag, pair of shoes, school supplies, and uniform might be thrilling. However, this has the potential to exhaust parents financially, and emotionally.

Start by getting in touch with your child's school to learn more about their specific supply lists, which can vary greatly from grade to grade and school to school. 

After that, contrast the items recommended with what your child already has. 

In order to guarantee that every child receives the same resources - and precisely what the teacher needs in the classroom - some schools have switched to requiring parents to buy the majority of the school supplies from the school or specific shops. In such cases, set aside some cash to cover the cost of these items.

Here are methods that can help with reducing or offsetting these costs.

  • Be on the lookout for back-to-school deals. There will be a lot of back-to-school sales at various retailers during this period.
  • Start your shopping as soon as possible to avoid the last-minute rush. You have just a few days left before schools reopen, however, it's not too late. If you can list the most essential things and buy them first and when the back-to-school rush subsides, you can get the non-essential items at fair prices. 
  • Compare prices from a variety of retailers. A few minutes spent checking prices at several retailers can sometimes lead to significant savings.

Travel Expenses

Children have been on a very long holiday meaning a lot of travelling from different parts of the country will be expected especially if they school far from home - for those in boarding schools. 

And as you very well know, matatus love this season as they can charge even up to five times the regular fare. It is never a great time to be travelling for those on a tight budget. Nevertheless, your child must get to school. 

Have you made travel plans for them? Some bus companies allow for early booking which may be cheaper compared to last-minute booking and travel.

If your children are day-scholars and require to commute daily to school, are you prepared for this expense for the entire term? If the school has a bus, you may already be required to pay the transport cost together with the school fees which might help you plan even better.

But, if your child will be using public means to get to school, you have to plan for the daily fares - factoring in expected fluctuations - and be confident that no matter what, your child will always have transport money. 

How about school trips, symposiums and excursions? Surely, you do not want your child to be left out of these events that form an important part of school life and growth. 

As you think about travel, make sure to include an allocation for possible trips or co-curriculars that your child may need to participate in. Some schools make this easier by providing a detailed calendar of events. Check if this is given. 

The Entire Calendar

Is your budget ready for this school year or even the first term in its entirety? Do you know the crucial dates and school events that will require you to dig into your pockets?

Most schools send parents letters and newsletters to keep them informed on important information. In addition, many schools have websites, social media pages, and Whatsapp groups where you can acquire crucial news and information.

The Ministry of Education has already released the 2023 school calendar as detailed below.

Those joining for one will be reporting from 6th to 13th February.

Be on the lookout also for the following to help you make appropriate plans for your budget;

  • Registration or enrollment requirements and procedures for those who'll be changing schools
  • Important term dates ie. PTA meetings, boarding school visits, closing days, half terms, etc. This will enable you to develop a solid financial plan and prevent getting caught off guard.
  • New items that the school recommends or requires. 
  • School policies, especially those relating to school uniforms or items that can be taken to school. 
  • School activities and trips throughout the term and year if available.

How is Your Budget Looking?

Education is a costly affair. Considering everything discussed above, what is your budget looking like? 

To gauge your budget, you can start by using the previous school term or year as a baseline. Compare that to the amount you are able to set aside then make any necessary adjustments for any anticipated, new, or additional expenses. 

This will give you a good idea of how much you should be prepared to spend. You should also budget for the fact that these costs may or may not have increased owing to the current economy.   

So, Utawezana, or you’ll need to seek other sources of cash?

If your budget is constrained, you could use some more cushioning. To assist you in covering the cost of your children's back-to-school expenses, taking a short-term loan may be the next best option for you. 

Types of School fees loans

A school fee loan is typically a short-term loan offered by a financial institution specifically for the purpose of paying school fees.

Some institutions will require one to provide the fee structure from the institution and will disburse directly to the bank account of the student’s school.

A typical school fee loan - depending on the amount - will have a tenure of between one and three months. 

Salaried parents may also consider the salary advance loan option that has a short tenure of literally “next payday”. 

But there are many other school fees loans that do not follow this format and are more of general personal loans taken out by parents for the purpose of paying school fees.

Remember a personal loan does not restrict the use to which you can put the money borrowed to, but in the application process, you typically have to indicate the reason for taking the loan. 

You can get a personal loan from these institution types among others:

  1. Commercial Banks
  2. Microfinance Banks
  3. Non-Deposit Microfinance Institutions
  4. SACCOs
  5. Govt Parastatal

Logbook Loans as School Fees Loans

Depending on the level of education your children are in, you have between just a few days or up to three weeks or thereabout to raise the amount needed to send your child back to school comfortably. 

As such, speed of processing can be one of the most important factors for you when deciding what loan option to take if you decide a loan is what you need for this purpose.

And this is where logbook loans shine among other shorter-term loan options in the market. Many lenders, and especially microfinance institutions promise to disburse funds for qualified logbook loan borrowers in record times of even just one day. 

Logbook loans are personal loans backed by the value of your car. Any type of vehicle, including cars, trucks, buses, and other vehicles, can be used as collateral for a logbook loan. 

Depending on the amount borrowed and the terms set by the lender, logbook loans have payback periods that can last anywhere from one month to several years. 

This is another feature of this loan type that may appeal to a parent needing longer repayment periods that may not be typically offered by typical school fee, emergency or personal loans. 

Logbook loans give you quick access to the funds that you need while still allowing you to use your car normally.

Do you need a loan to clear your back-to-school bills? Check out the Money254 logbook loan comparison tool and see if there is a product that best fits your circumstances.


You may save money, lessen stress, and avoid buying items your kids really don't need by going into the back-to-school shopping season with a plan and knowing what you need to buy and how to obtain funds in advance 

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Sheila Brenda Andoi is a dedicated journalist, meticulous editor, and skilled communicator with a profound passion for maternal health. Her journey in the world of media and communication has been marked by a commitment to shedding light on crucial issues. Sheila's writing not only informs but also inspires and educates

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