Struggling parents can apply for school fee exemptions in South Africa
The cost of living escalates year-on-year. Petrol, utility and food prices keen on rising. So, paying school fees may seem like another heavy burden on your shoulders.
Are you in real financial need?
We have some positive news for parents who are struggling to make ends meet. In South Africa, you can apply for an exemption from school fees. This is if you are experiencing a financial crisis. This may be a partial or total exemption of the fees.
The government put this mechanism in place to assist parents in enabling their children to receive a quality education, irrespective of their background or financial constraints. If you are in dire need of help, it’s worth applying for assistance for your children’s education.
School fee exemption application form
To apply to be exempted from school fees, you need to provide valid evidence of your inability to pay school fees to the School Governing Body (SGB). However, if you do not apply for exemption and fail to pay the fees, you will become legally liable for those fees. This is because non-payment can create budget issues for the school.
You can get an application form from the SGB through the principal of a school. Public schools are obliged to inform parents of the criteria and procedures. They are also obliged to assist them in applying for school fee exemption. The SGB must let the applicant know the outcome of the application in writing within 7 days after assessing the application for exemption.
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 (School Governing Body)
If you are self-employed or unemployed, provide an affidavit explaining how you support your child
The SGB must let the applicant know the outcome of the application in writing within 7 days after assessing the application for exemption
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
Types of exemptions
There are different types of exemptions that you can apply for, including:
If the school fees exceed 10% of the total annual family income, you can be fully exempt from paying school fees.
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 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.
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 school fees. Conditional exemptions may also be granted for parents who qualify for partial exemption but cannot pay the reduced amount.
If you fill in the form correctly and honestly, and if you really qualify for the exemption, you should get some relief on your school fees. Keep in mind, you will need to apply every year. It does not automatically carry over from the previous year.
Know your rights. For more information on how school fee exemptions in South Africa works, read: