A new school year is just around the corner — and for many that means it’s time to convert the home into a classroom with remote learning being the new norm for millions of American families as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the various government restrictions being imposed to help limit the potential spread through schools.

This change in education is not only rattling the system, but a new Bankrate survey reveals that it’s also forcing 61 percent of parents with school-aged children to reevaluate their finances and careers as they prepare for a unique school situation. And that’s not all, parents are also not feeling particularly optimistic about the educational side of remote learning with 42 percent of respondents anticipating negative impacts on their child(ren)’s overall education.

Bankrate surveyed 3,014 adults, including 1,592 parents and 605 parents with children enrolled in primary school (defined as Pre-k through 12th grade). Below are the main findings from the survey.

Key takeaways:

The biggest financial impacts parents foresee with remote learning

Parents are anticipating an influx of additional miscellaneous expenses, with 30 percent answering that this would be the biggest financial impact due to remote learning. Miscellaneous expenses were defined as new technology, tutoring and meals.

Other top responses included having career opportunities limited due to lack of work/life balance (23 percent), having to cut work hours to help with learning (22 percent) and additional childcare expenses so that parents could return to or continue to work (16 percent).

Perhaps most alarming is that 15 percent of parents surveyed suggested that they may have to stop working altogether in order to tend to their children’s new learning environment.

“These findings suggest the economic recovery will continue to be slow,” says Ted Rossman, industry analyst at Bankrate. “Most students will be learning remotely this fall, and that alone will strain more than half of their parents’ household budgets. We’ve seen a record string of initial jobless claims – over one million every week since March. As long as the virus continues to spread widely, it’s hard to envision a full recovery, whether we’re talking [about] education, employment, travel or anything else.”

Who is most likely to take a financial hit?

Some 67 percent of parents with kids ages 5-10 expect their personal finances to be negatively impacted by remote learning. The number is only slightly lower at 57 percent for parents with children between the ages of 11-15 and 46 percent for those with children ages 16-18.

Generationally speaking, millennial parents (ages 24-39) believe they will bear the brunt of financial strain (73 percent) whereas Gen Xers (ages 40-55) don’t anticipate their finances being impacted as much (49 percent).

From a geographical standpoint, parents in the Northeast (64 percent) say they are most likely to be negatively impacted financially with remote learning. Similarly, more than 6 in 10 parents living in the West (61 percent) anticipate their wallet will take a hit as well. Meanwhile, 59 percent of parents in the Midwest and South expect to see a negative financial impact with remote learning.

How parents feel about remote learning

Generally, parents are not looking forward to remote learning, with 42 percent believing that it will have a negative impact on their children’s education. On the contrary, 34 percent believe that it will have a positive impact and 25 percent were neutral.

From a political perspective, Republican (43 percent positive/38 percent negative) parents were the most optimistic about remote learning’s impact on their child(ren)’s education, whereas Independent (30 percent positive/49 percent negative) and Democrats (33 percent positive/39 percent negative) expressed more negative attitudes towards remote learning.

Regionally, parents in the Northeast (38 percent positive) and in the West (38 percent positive) have a slightly more positive attitude towards remote learning versus those in the Midwest (29 percent positive) and South (32 percent positive).

Finally, households with higher incomes ($80,000 or more) see more negatives when it comes to remote learning (48 percent negative/36 percent positive) than middle-income households ( those making $40,000 – $80,000 per year) who see it as 39 percent negative and 32 percent positive, and lower-income households (under $40,000) who view remote learning as 38 percent negative and 35 percent positive.

Preparing for a remote learning fall: Ways to save on back-to-school supplies

This fall is likely to come with more challenges than most, but there are a few things parents can do to help ease some of the financial burdens of this less than ideal situation.

For instance, if you have to buy new items then consider employing these four strategies to help you save:

  • Use a credit card that rewards you: If you’re looking for guaranteed savings, use a cash back credit card to pay for the supplies. You might only get a return of 1 percent or so, but it all adds up in the end — just make sure you are able to pay your bill on-time and in-full so you can actually reap the rewards.
  • Avoid high interest payments: If you’re facing a difficult financial situation, but your kids are in need of new supplies then you may want to consider opening a 0 percent intro APR card. These cards don’t incur any interest for a set period of time, which could be a good way to avoid building up any costly debt while you work on navigating this new situation. Beware, however, that the 0 percent APR is only an introductory offer and will expire, so pay attention to when the offer ends.
  • Check for discounts: Sometimes it pays to shop online. Not only is it convenient, but finding discounts is a lot easier — especially with browser extensions like Honey and Rakuten, which will do the discount searching for you.
  • Take advantage of tax-free shopping days: A number of states participate in tax-free weekends (some of which have already passed) ahead of the school year. These discounts are typically only available in-person, but they can save you a chunk of change whether it’s on school supplies or high-ticket items like electronics. (Double check to see what purchases qualify as tax free in your state.)

Don’t forget that not everything has to be brand new — do some shopping and ask around to see if you can find any pre-owned devices or supplies. There are plenty of online resources that sell this sort of stuff, but don’t be shy in asking around to friends, family and neighbors as they might have some things lying around that your family could put to good use. Finally, take inventory of your own home to see what you may already have.


Bankrate.com commissioned YouGov Plc to conduct the survey. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 3,014 adults, including 1,592 U.S. parents and 605 U.S. parents with children enrolled in school (pre-K through 12th grade). Fieldwork was undertaken on July 31 – August 3, 2020. The survey was carried out online and meets rigorous quality standards. It employed a non-probability-based sample using both quotas upfront during collection and then a weighting scheme on the back end designed and proven to provide nationally representative results.