School fee exemptions in South Africa – How it works


Struggling parents can apply for school fee exemptions in South Africa

The cost of living escalates year-on-year. As petrol, utility and food prices rise, paying school fees may seem like another heavy burden on your shoulders. In South Africa, our law allows any person who is experiencing huge financial crises to apply for an exemption from school fees.

School fee exemptions in South AfricaIf you are in dire need of help, it’s worth applying for assistance when it comes to paying for your children’s education.

Parents can apply to be exempted from school fees if they provide valid evidence to the School Governing Body (SGB) of their inability to pay school fees. However, if parents do not apply for exemption and fail to pay the fees, they will become legally liable for those fees as non-payment can create budget issues for the school.

How to apply for school fee exemptions:

  • Complete one of the school fee exemption forms at your local school
  • Send  the completed form along with a letter asking for school fee exemption and a payslip or letter from your employer to the SGB
  • If you are self-employed or unemployed, provide an affidavit explaining how you support your child
  • The SGB has 30 days to respond to you by either accepting or rejecting your application
  • If your application is rejected, you can appeal in writing to the Head of the Department of Education in your province within 30 days of being rejected

There are different types of exemptions that you can apply for, including:

Full exemption:

If the school fees exceed 10% of the total annual family income, you can be fully exempt from paying school fees.

Partial exemption:

If the school fees are between 3.5% and 10% of your total annual family income, you can qualify for paying partial school fees.

Automatic exemption:

Automatic exemptions are usually given to orphans in child-headed households or an orphanage, children with foster parents, children with parents receiving social grants and learners placed in the care of a family member or youth care centre.

Conditional exemption:

If parents do not fall into any of the above categories but can provide evidence to prove they cannot pay the school fees, they can be exempt from paying schools fees. Conditional exemptions may also be granted for parents who qualify for partial exemption but cannot pay the reduced amount.

Know your rights. For more information on how school fee exemptions in South Africa works, read:



  • Good afternoon I want to know you can get en exemption if is only husband is working n getting close to 7000 bt we have 4 children whose going to school n we are struggling cz he pays rent transport 4 himself to go to work

  • Good morning
    My husband is the bread winner in my family and we struggle , why does other parents get the privilege to get a subsidy and when we colours apply or is to scared to apply don’t get the opportunity. Thanks

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