COUNTRY parents will be forced to fork out an extra $880 a year to send their children to regional residential colleges as the State Government is set to increase fees by 7.5 per cent to $12,660 in 2015.
It is a move which has disappointed many parents, especially as it comes alongside the government's decision to not increase the Boarding Away from Home Allowance (BAHA) and the first year of the Year 7 transition to high school.
WA Isolated Children's Parents' Association president Liz Sudlow said it was a huge disappointment to have discovered the increase in the depths of the budget.
"To have an increase in residential college fees but not to the BAHA is upsetting to say the least," Ms Sudlow said.
"It is also unfortunate timing with 2015 being the first year Year 7s will be sent to high school, which is already an added financial pressure to country parents.
"We only found this out late last week and it just makes the non-existent increase to the BAHA more disappointing than it already was."
Shadow Minister for Education Sue Ellery has labelled the State Government sneaky in its handling of the fee increase.
"There has been no announcement about this and we had to go through the budget papers with a fine tooth comb to find it," she said.
"The Government needs to be upfront with bush parents about what they have and have not done."
Ms Ellery said the $880 increase was a double whammy for country parents who already have additional costs of education because they don't live close enough to appropriate schools.
Education Minister Peter Collier said the Country High Schools Hostels Authority incurred a loss of $525,000 last year and without an increase it would incur further deficits.
"It should be noted that only 20pc of the boarders will actually pay the full fee because the other 80pc receive State and Federally-funded allowances," he said.
"For students receiving full allowances the cost to families per week for boarding will be $68.
"The State Government does periodically review the allowances provided to support families with the costs of education.
"Changes to the BAHA may be considered as part of future State Budget processes."