What you will have to pay at school

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What you will have to pay at school
What you will have to pay at school

In Quebec, even if there is no public school registration fee, parents are still required to buy certain things, while others must be provided free of charge.


They say public school is free for everyone. This fact is even governed by a law, the same one that makes school compulsory until the age of 16. However, we all know that this right to free has some small drawbacks and that each year, parents must pay an amount X so that their child can follow his educational program and learn everything he has to learn. Have you ever wondered what free includes?

What is free

Obviously, we are talking about public school here, since private school costs an average of $3,500 per year for those who attend it. This is also a good indication of what it would cost you to send your children to school if the public system were not what it is now.

One system for all

We often think of school materials, but it should also be remembered that parents do not directly pay teachers' salaries, building maintenance, electricity bills, furniture,computer equipment, support staff and specialist staff. For this, there is the school tax which varies greatly from one region to another and depending on whether you live in an apartment, an average house or a luxury house.

Parents also do not pay for outdoor facilities, field trips, recuperation and official piece exam retakes. They pay for it through their income taxes, of course, but this cost distributed in the community amounts to very little if we calculate the amount that would have to be paid individually if our system were different.

The Education Act stipulates that A student, other than a student enrolled in adult education services, is en titled to free textbooks and teaching materials required for teaching programs of study until the last day of the school calendar of the school year in which it reaches the age of 18 (…)”

So it's the books for consultation that are supposed to be free. These are loaned since they will also be used in subsequent years. This is why your child is required to cover his books with a non-adhesive protective plastic and to take the greatest care of them.

Teaching materials must also be provided free of charge, which is far from the case in all schools where dictionaries, novels and calculators are paid for by parents. Budget cuts in schools mean that what should be provided free of charge is less and lessless.

Among the materials that should be provided free are:

  • Dictionaries
  • Novels
  • Musical Instruments
  • Laboratory material or necessary for practical work
  • Mandatory object under the training program (e.g. graphing calculator or iPad-type tablet)
  • Photocopies that replace textbooks
  • Sheet music

What is not necessarily

The law also mentions that “This right to free access does not extend to documents in which the student writes, draws or cuts. Pencils, papers and other objects of the same nature are not considered as didactic material. »

That's why you get a list of school supplies to buy at the beginning of the year. You have to pay for the documents in which your child writes and which cannot be reused, information storage equipment (such as USB keys), papers, pencils, equipment used for making presentations, uniforms and photocopies of excerpts from manuals or other. Parents are also required to purchase items that cannot be shared for hygienic reasons, such as headphones and recorders.

You also have to pay for certain services such as:

  • Optional outings
  • Morning, noon and evening childcare
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Food
  • Registration fees for certain projects


There should be no significant differences in fees from one school to another. If you think you will pay much more than what is provided for under the law on free education, do not hesitate to contact the school board serving your area. You will be able to obtain more information about the measures to be taken.

If the fees seem too high to you because of your income, contact the management of your school who will guide you and find viable solutions with you to allow your child to have all the equipment they need. need at a good price. Please be aware that the brands suggested on the school supply list are listed as suggestions only and you can source materials from another brand if you prefer.

Finally, if you disagree with the choice of teaching materials, you can contact the governing board who will explain the thinking behind these choices, since this board is consulted when the materials are purchased.


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