What can I do if I Cannot Afford the Cost of a School Field Trip?

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  • Last Modified Date: 09 September 2019
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With the rising costs of public education, and with budget cuts, often schools can no longer afford a field trip without asking for contributions from the parents. This can lead to some parents feeling their children will be unwelcome if they cannot make the necessary contribution. This feeling is more common than many suppose. For many different economic reasons, parents may really not be able to pay the necessary amount for the trip.

In public schools, this factor may need to be explained to a teacher, but a public education means that all children are welcome at functions sponsored by the school. This would definitely include a field trip a class might take. Some teachers spare the parents having to make embarrassing confessions by explaining that payment for the trip is not required.

In other circumstances, one may need to explain to the teacher that one cannot afford the cost of the trip. There is no need to get into long-winded explanations about one’s financial situation that may prove embarrassing. Instead, it is fair to simply state that one is unable to contribute to the cost of the trip. A field trip at a public school must be planned with this in mind, since there are normally several children with parents in difficult financial straits.


A parent who feels civic minded and can well afford the cost of a field trip might consider adding an extra contribution to help fund the trip for children who are not as well off. Parents who cannot afford the trip might be able to offer other valuable contributions such as organizing the trip, acting as a chaperon, or simply offering some extra volunteer time in class. In this way the parent may feel that though the event is not paid for in dollars, it is in action.

Field trips in private schools may have different rules depending upon the school. Usually most children who attend private schools are paying additional funds to attend these schools. Some children are admitted to a school on a scholarship basis, and it may be well understood that the cost of a field trip may be beyond the parents’ means.

A non-scholarship student’s parents might explain current financial difficulties, if cost for a field trip is unaffordable. In most cases, teachers at private schools want to ensure that all children benefit from the extracurricular activities of a trip. Sometimes both private and public schools can help a parent make arrangements to pay off long trips, like camping excursions or visits out of state.

It is well worth exploring different options with a school when a cost exceeds one’s means. Even though it may be a bit embarrassing to confess that one is in difficult financial circumstances, most teachers will treat this matter with both delicacy and privacy. The end result will most likely be your child’s participation in and enjoyment of field trip opportunities.


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Discuss this Article

Post 3

@Iluviaporos - Unfortunately, many schools will just take their student's economic status for granted. They might not realize that the students are struggling at home or scraping together their own pocket money to be able to go on trips.

Post 2

@croydon - My mother is a school principal and she's made it very clear to her teachers and parents that if someone cannot afford a school trip that they would otherwise like to go on, she will pay for it for them, either with school funds or out of her own pocket.

It can be tough to get parents to admit that they are struggling sometimes and I think many of them would prefer to withhold field trip permission rather than admitting they can't afford it.

Post 1

It is sad when parents can't afford the fee for a field trip. I know teachers who feel very guilty when they come up with field trip ideas that include a bus trip or an entrance fee and they know some of their students won't be able to afford it.

But the problem is that they don't want the other students to miss out because a few of them might not be able to afford the trip. It's definitely a tough decision, but I think in the end the only solution is to just have a few field trips so that there isn't too much financial burden on the parents.

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