Some New York families are receiving stimulus funds to pay for back to school supplies as inflation raises the costs of school shopping.
Back-to-school shopping has always been a burdensome task for families in America. Now that inflation is hitting record levels, that endeavor is having a major effect on parents’ wallets. To alleviate the stress and financial burden, states have enacted measures to help those struggling to pay for needed school expenses. Now, some New York families will get a break in the form of cash payments meant to be spent on school shopping.
All families currently receiving public assistance in the Empire State will be given a cash stimulus to help cover the costs of back-to-school shopping. The endeavor, which will cost the state more than $44 million will give qualifying New York families $214 per child aged three to 17. The program also is covering younger children, handing out payments of $150 to low-income families with children under the age of three.
The cash stimulus is only available to those New York families that currently receive public assistance. These programs provide funds to low-income families to cover their basic needs such as food and housing while they are struggling to pay for them. According to the governor’s office, this funding will reach nearly 220,000 children statewide. Parents can expect the money to be added to their accounts starting Friday, August 12th.
Altogether, this initiative will cost the state $44 million. However, the money isn’t coming from general state funds. Instead, Gov. Hochul announced that the money benefiting some New York families will be pulled from federal COVID stimulus funds allocated to the state. This comes directly from the Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund, which was directed to aid families in need during the COVID pandemic.
These one-time payments for New York families struggling to make ends meet come at a time of extreme stress burdening families during the back-to-school shopping season. Inflation has skyrocketed over the past year. In June, inflation levels hit a four-decade high, rising up to 9.1%. Increased prices are reported in all retail sectors, and it is especially affecting the costs of many school supplies.
The annual costs to shop for students’ school needs gradually increases year after year. This year, average per-student spending is expected to cost over $864 per pupil according to an annual survey conducted by the National Retail Federation. For families with three children that earn just enough to place them at the national poverty level, that puts school shopping at costing parents about 10% of their entire annual budget for that once-a-year expense. While New York families are getting a cash bonus to cover this, other states have gotten creative as well.
The state of New York isn’t the only one looking to alleviate families struggling with paying for school supplies. In Illinois, a statewide tax decrease on school items went into effect to lower the costs of shopping. Teachers in Georgia were allocated cash stipends of $125 to cover the costs of classroom supplies. So far, New York families, however, are the only known to be given a cash stimulus to cover the back-to-school shopping costs.