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The Cost of Education

If you have kids at school but are struggling to make ends meet you have several options including no fee schools and fee exemptions.

According to the SA Schools Act, public schools must raise some of their own money by charging fees and doing fundraising.  Parents can also voluntarily offer schools services or funds.

Public schools do get government funding and then on top of that they also charge fees. These school fees don’t include extra fees like registration or administration charges.

School fees are charged by schools to parents (not the kids). This is important for a variety of reasons as you will see below. And interestingly, schools can’t charge for extra subjects and orphans don’t have to pay school fees.

No Fee Schools

Some schools don’t charge fees at all and are called ‘no fee schools’. For more info on those schools in the various provinces checkout this webpage:

If You Can’t Pay or Don’t Pay Fees

Schools are allowed to take legal action against parents who don’t pay fees, but they can only do this after fully considering if the parents can’t afford the fees.

Parents who cannot pay the normal school fees, for any reason, can ask the school for an exemption or reduction. Exemptions mean parents won’t have to pay fees, if they genuinely can’t afford them. Reductions can help reduce the pressure and allow parents to pay what they realistically can afford till things get better.

Parents need to apply through the school (normally to a School Fee Committee) and provide evidence of why they can’t make the payments. Usually, this is done at the start of the school year. Once this is done, they will be told if they’re approved within a week.

If parents disagree with an exemption decision, they can appeal to the Head of Department within a month. If no assistance is given to the parent by the School Fee Committee after they requested it, the principal of the school concerned must assist the parent in such an application or appeal. Also, no one can be rejected just because their application form is missing some info or wrong.

Parents who are refused an exemption can appeal to the Head of Department within a month. The school has to help them with this process. The Head of Department will then make a decision within a week of getting all the information.

Kids Don’t Need To Stress About Fees

Importantly, according to the Department of Basic Education and the SA Schools Act, students can’t be punished for their parents’ unpaid fees.

So, students can’t be stopped from joining school activities or getting their reports because of unpaid fees.

If you are struggling to pay school fees why not apply to the school for an exemption or ask help from a Debt Counsellor in supplying the school with information about your finances?