COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSPD) -- Parents are working on those back to school shopping lists now and there's bad news - it's going to cost more.
Huntington Bank's annual Backpack Index pegs the costs of sending children back to school at $642 for elementary school students, $918 for middle schoolers, and $1,284 for high school students.
"For elementary students it's up 11 percent, for middle school up a whopping 20 percent, and high school is only up 5 percent," said Huntington Bank's Jim Kunk.
While the cost for supplies and school activities continues to climb for families, average hourly nonfarm payroll earnings rose just 2.05 percent between May 2013 and May 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The increases in back-to-school costs also far outpaced the Consumer Price Index, which rose 2.1 percent for the same time period.
Increases in the Backpack Index this year were mostly the result of hikes in fees for standardized testing as well as school fees including field trip and pay to play fees. More schools are also requiring students to purchase a gym uniform. Finally, middle school students will see a hike because some districts are requiring graphing calculators with Algebra now taught earlier in many middle schools.
Parents of high school and middle school students may also face the costs of buying their children computer tablets because more schools are now using tablets in the classroom.
Since Huntington first introduced the Backpack Index in 2007, costs have cumulatively increased 83 percent for elementary school students, 73 percent for middle school students and 44 percent for high school students.
Huntington completed its own comparison shopping for the coming school year and found ways for families to save an average of $130. Saving tips include starting now. Kunk suggests you don't wait because sales have already begun. It's also a good idea to involve your children.
"Make them part of the budging process. Have them maybe look at fliers in the Sunday paper for where stores are putting some of these supplies on sale," he said.
Recycle what you can from last year. Pencils, paper, and erasers don't need to be brand new each school year. For extra-curricular activities, Kunk suggests talking with friends and neighbors about using instruments or sports equipment their children are no longer using.