The cost of public school

In Italy, public school is free for all students living in the country. However, there are expenses that families have to make to purchase school supplies or books. These costs mainly concern middle school and secondary school. Read how much the school costs in Italy are and find out what financial support is available.

Public schools in Italy are managed by the state, this means that the costs for public schools are lower than the costs of private schools.

Families usually have to pay school fees and buy books and school supplies. Costs vary according to the type of school. Primary school generally costs less than secondary school.

One of the highest costs is for school books. But every year the Ministry of Education decides the tetto di spesa, the spending limit which all schools must respect when deciding on school books.

The Italian system still wants to support students who deserve more, but who have limited economic possibilities, through scholarships, economic support to families, and reductions in expenses.

Asilo & Nido

For daycares and kindergartens, the expenses to be paid are a registration fee (to be paid once) and a monthly fee. Costs vary according to income and place of residence.

Many Comuni (municipalities) help low-income families by charging them lower monthly fees ranging from € 20 to € 200.

The quotas are higher for families who do not reside in the same municipality as the school. If you do not reside in the municipality where the school is located, the fees will be higher.

Primary school and middle school

Even for primary school and middle school, it is necessary to buy school supplies such as pens, books, notebooks, sports clothes, and a backpack. However, the school will tell you what to buy and when.

Primary school expenses are lower than middle school expenses. In middle school, there are usually more books and other school supplies to buy.

Even the school service for lunch, called mensa scolastica, has an additional cost calculated according to the municipality and family income.

Secondary school

In addition to the expenses for school materials, those for class activities, transport, trips, and study trips should also be expected.
Another expense is also that for books. Many students save money by buying used books from bookstores or from older students.

After the age of 16, students must also pay fees (listed below under secondary school fees). It is also possible to request help for these fees if you meet the established criteria, through the ISEE model.


Usually, university students have two types of expenses:

  • registration fee
    at the time of registration or at the beginning of the year, and
  • the second payment
    varies according to the course and family income. You will need the ISEE model to show your economic situation.

In addition to these fees, the cost of books, transport, accommodation, and admission tests (if needed) must also be considered.

The criteria for requesting help with university expenses are:

  • Income
    for families or people with low income
  • Merit
    for students with high grades and students who graduate ahead of schedule
  • Disability
    students with disabilities

For more information on expenses and applications for financial aid, you can contact the university of your interest.

School fees are paid after the student’s 16th year of age, generally for the fourth and fifth year of secondary school. These fees are:

  • Tassa di iscrizione – Registration fee
    € 6.04 (to be paid once)
  • Tassa di frequenza – Attendance fee
    € 15.13 (to be paid annually)
  • Esami di idoneità – Fee for eligibility exams
    supplementary, license, maturity, and qualification exams of € 12.09
  • Diploma issue fee
    € 15.13

Italian law establishes that in some cases the student does not have to pay taxes. These are for:

  • Merit
    When the student has an annual average no lower than 8/10
  • Economic reasons
    For families who have an economic situation that does not exceed € 20,000 (to be demonstrated with the ISEE model)
  • Membership in special categories of beneficiaries
    Among these categories: orphans and children of the maimed and invalids of war, for reasons of service or work, blind civilians.

In all cases, in order to apply for the exemption, the student must have a conduct grade of at least 8/10.

The school contribution, also known as contributo scolastico, is a payment that schools invite families to make in order to improve their services and ensure a higher quality of education.

The sum of the contribution is decided by the school. These contributions are voluntary and it is up to the families to decide whether to pay them or not.

What is the difference between the school contribution and the school fees?

School fees are compulsory for the last 2 years of high school, or after the age of 16 (except in cases of exemption). School contributions, on the other hand, are NOT compulsory but paid by families on a voluntary basis.

Tax deductions are the amounts we can take away from the taxes we pay. These deductions are calculated on the IRPEF, which is the income tax of individuals. If there are tax deductions, the total amount of taxes we have to pay to the state decreases.

For some school expenses too, it is possible to ask for a tax deduction, equal to 19% of the expenses. These are:

  • tassa di iscrizione (entry fee)
  • tasse di frequenza (attendance fee)
  • mensa scolastica (lunch service)
  • expenses for travel and educational trips
  • contributo scolastico (school contribution)

It is not possible to ask for a deduction on books, notebooks, and other school material expenses.

Parents can, therefore, request the deduction of these expenses for dependent children, from kindergarten to secondary school. They can do it at the time of their tax return using the Modello 730 form or Modello Redditi

To request the deduction, it is necessary to present the payment receipts such as slips, bank transfers, or other documents showing the payment, the details of the beneficiary, the student, the reason for payment, and the school.

Low-income families who cannot cover all of their family’s costs on their own can ask the government for help.
It is possible to ask for help with some school expenses or fees. To request this help, however, it is necessary to have the ISEE form which shows the family’s economic situation.

Furthermore, the support given to families may vary according to the region of residence. It is therefore advisable to ask at your children’s school, at the CAF, or other tax assistance centers, what is the school support provided for books, lunch, transport, etc. You can also use the internet and search on google: aiuti scuola + [the name of your city or region].

Private schools are not run by the government.

The costs for private schools are decided by the schools and are higher than those for public schools. The economic support that the government makes available to families is not intended for private schools.

Some private schools may still provide for scholarships or financial contributions, but it is better to request more information about it directly from the private school of your interest.

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