Can't Afford School Expenses? | Take These 5 Steps Now
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Worried about what will happen if you can’t afford to pay school expenses? This article gives light on how to deal with such a predicament…

School Expenses 1

If you are worried about school expenses, consider these steps.

If your child is in public school.

If you are a parent who is unable to afford your child’s tuition fees you may apply for exemptions. This is how exemptions work in public schools.

Exemptions were introduced by the government to assist parents who would like their children to access quality education irrespective of their background or financial constraints. If the parent qualifies, exemptions will be calculated from the beginning of the year.

Parents who cannot afford to pay school fees must apply to the School Governing Body (SGB) for conditional, partial or full exemption from paying school fees. The Exemption of Parents from the Payment of School Fees Regulations of 1998 sets out a means (income) test for the granting of exemptions.

The means test read as follows: “If the combined annual gross income of the parents is less than ten times the annual school fees per learner, the parent qualifies for full exemption.”

Partial exemptions were available for those whose income was more than ten times but less than thirty times the annual fees. Eligibility for full or partial school fees exemptions is calculated on the basis of parental income in relation to the fees.

Department of Basic Education School fees and exemption

The following families can qualify for full or partial exemption from school fees:

  • When the breadwinner’s annual salary is less than ten times the amount of the school fee.
  • When the combined income of the mother and father is less than 30 times the annual school fee.

A parent whose application has been declined by the SGB has the right to lodge an appeal with the Head of the Department of that province within 30 days after notification of that decision. The appealing parent will need to provide justifiable reasons for the appeal and any other relevant information pertaining to the appeal.

If your child is at a private or independent school.

Contact your school as soon as possible and ask to speak to the principal or school financial manager. Explain that you’re having difficulty paying fees.

If you are behind in fees, the school can ask your child to leave and/or pursue any outstanding debt from you. Aim to keep paying what you can afford and put an agreed payment plan in place.

When talking to the school ask about:

Financial relief  policies

If the school has a financial relief policy, try to negotiate a payment plan that you can afford and confirm it in writing.

Student assistance schemes

In most states and territories there’s some form of student assistance scheme that can help families on a low income. Ask your school if they have access to such a scheme.

Waiving the debt

In some cases, the school might waive the debt. A school may waive or reduce your fees or debt if:

  • you have had a long association with the school; or
  • your child brings some academic, sporting, or other curricular prestige to the school.

You might even suggest performing a professional or another service for the school in exchange for the fees or debt being reduced or waived.

Changing schools

If you can’t afford the fees for the foreseeable future you might need to change schools. Try to negotiate this so it is as painless as possible for your child.


If you can’t agree, dispute it

If you can’t come to an agreement that you think is fair, or you believe money is being claimed you don’t owe get advice from us on your options.

Speak to one of our debt counsellors

If your problem still hasn’t been solved, or you’re feeling overwhelmed, call us on 0410125036 to speak with one of our debt counsellors or apply for debt counselling.

Here are the other best ways to pay for the school expenses if you do not have enough money.

  1. Get a Scholarship,Grants or Bursaries (Here)
  2. Apply for a Student Loan
  3. Source for Money From Close Friends and Family
  4. Start a Business
  5. Ask for a Salary Increase or Work Remote Jobs

Remember that the South African Schools Act says that no learner may be deprived of their right to “participate in all aspects of the programme of a public school despite non-payment of school fees”.


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