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Can FSAs and HSAs Help with Back-to-School Shopping?

back to school

Here’s a back-to-school joke:  What’s the king of all school supplies? A ruler! Get it? Kings are rulers, and rulers are something schoolkids need … yeah, OK, OK.

But – did you know that Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) and Health Savings Accounts (HSA) can be used to pay for some school supplies? No joke!

Here’s a list of common back-to-school needs that are qualified expenses for FSA and HSA accounts.


Kids need to stay up-to-date on vaccinations. In most states, public school systems (and many private schools) require children to have had certain immunizations before they can attend classes. While insurance typically covers most routine vaccinations, you can use your FSA or HSA to pay for any that insurance does not cover.

Sleep Aids

Sleep is vital for all of us, but especially for kids. Lack of good sleep affects mood and the ability to learn. Experts believe children between the ages of 5 and 12 need at least 9.5 hours of sleep nightly. Teenagers may require 8 to 10 hours.

Over-the-counter sleep aids and CPAP machines, among other sleep-related products and services, are qualified expenses for FSA and HSA accounts.

First Aid Products

You may be running low on first aid products at home. And some schools ask parents to help restock the health room cabinet. FSA- and HSA-qualified expenses include first aid products such as bandages and bandaids, cold packs, antiseptic, and sunscreen.

Eye Care

Children who have trouble seeing the board have a hard time learning. FSA, Limited Purpose FSA (LPFSA), and HSA can pay for a vision exam to ensure your child is seeing clearly.

If glasses or contact lenses are needed, they count as eligible expenses. Some vision correction procedures, including LASIK and PRK, also qualify. And, believe it or not, contact lens solution is eligible for purchase with FSA and HSA funds.

Braille Reading Materials

If your student is visually impaired, FSA and HSA funds can cover the cost difference between the standard print editions and the Braille editions of required educational materials. You can also pay for audio versions of these materials.

Dental Expenses

Another eligible expense is dental checkups, including cleanings and fluoride treatments. Braces, bridges, and other orthodontia fall into the eligible expense category too. Use an FSA, LPFSA, or HSA to cover the cost of these devices.

Acne Treatments

Parents of children experiencing acne can pay for doctor and dermatologist visits, prescription acne treatments, and even some over-the-counter acne medications with FSA and HSA funds.

Orthopedic Goods

Is your child involved in sports? Do they deal with sprained ankles or other common athletic ailments? Be ready by stocking up on orthopedic devices and products, like ankle and knee braces, elastic bandages, athletic tape, arch supports, and back braces. Use your FSA or HSA to pay for them.

Back-to-school shopping can be an expensive time, but using FSA and HSA funds for qualified expenses can help ease the pain. Have a great school year!