While a 'free' education is anything but, parents will be glad to hear it's not getting any more expensive - unless you're picky about where you send their children.
The latest report from scholarship provider ASG says the cost of sending a child to a state school is no longer rising - up 13 percent in the past decade to $38,227, but down $135 on 2017's figures.
"There is no such thing as a free education," ASG chief operating officer Bruce Hawkins told The AM Show on Friday. "While schools might not pass on the fees and costs, all the other costs of sending that child to school add up."
That includes uniforms, extra-curricular activities, textbooks, technology and transport.
Private v state education
But if you can afford to send your kids to private school, you might not for much longer. The cost - now $360,074 - has risen 42 percent in 10 years, up more than $14,000 on last year's figures.
"That's nearly more than double the rate of wage growth over the same period of time," said Mr Hawkins.
"Parents really need to do their research and make sure the school is right for their child to fork out that sort of money."
State-integrated schools are in-between, with a 13-year education now coming at a cost of $102,730 - down from $109,354 in 2017, but up 30 percent on 2008.
"It is pleasing to see that low inflation is having a positive impact on costs for state and integrated schools but, I must emphasise, the actual costs associated with sending your child to any school in New Zealand continues to increase each year," said Mr Hawkins.
The silver lining
In Australia, costs are much higher. For state schooling, Aussie parents can expect to pay 90 percent more than their Kiwi counterparts, says ASG, while private schooling costs 45 percent more.
Solo mother-of-three Vanessa Ponzoni says coughing up the voluntary donation is challenging, let alone the rest - but she doesn't want her children to miss out on things like school camps.
"Most of the kids are going," she told Newshub. "It costs me about $500 for each of them, so then it will be like, another $1000."
ASG's figures are based on a survey of more than 2000 parents.
"ASG advocates parents use a disciplined approach by putting a few dollars aside each week, so they can financially afford to meet their children's education goals and aspirations," said Mr Hawkins.
Cost of education
- Public in 2017: $38,362
- Public in 2018: $38,227
- Integrated in 2017: $109,354
- Integrated in 2018: $102,730
- Private in 2017: $345,996
- Private in 2018: $360,074