Exemption from Paying School Fees

Exemption from Paying School Fees

Nozipho Mvulane

It is illegal for a school to exclude or discriminate against a child whose parents are unable to pay their fees (this is primarily for primary and high school children). A school cannot stop a child from playing sport or receiving their report etc because of non-payment of school fees. A parent can however, apply for an exemption from paying school fees.

According to section 40(1) of the South African Schools Act 84 of 1996, a parent is liable to pay the school fees unless or to the extent that he or she has been exempted from payment. An exemption relaxes or grants exception to the payment of school fees. An exemption may be in the form of a conditional, partial or full.

For a parent to receive an exemption, they must apply to the school. The exemption from payment of school fees will be decided by the school and communicated to the parents. Where the parents are not happy with the outcome, they may appeal to the school. The school must communicate the processes and procedures in applying for an exemption.


The exemption from payment of school fees must be calculated according to the regulations in section 39(4). The exemption from payment of school fees is calculated retrospectively from the date on which the parent qualifies for the exemption.

Application for an Exemption

Application forms can be obtained from the School Governing Body through the principal of a school. Schools must inform parents of the criteria and procedures and assist them in applying for exemption from paying school fees. The School Governing Body must inform the parent of the outcome of the application in writing within 7 days after assessing the application for exemption.


If a parent is not satisfied with the School Governing Body decision related to full or partial exemption, he or she may appeal to the Head of Department against the decision of the school within 30 days after receiving the school’s decision. It is the responsibility of every public school to assist the parents in lodging appeals.

No parent may be disqualified on the ground that his or her application form is either incomplete or incorrectly completed. The School Governing Body needs to inform the parent in order to complete it correctly.

The parent appealing must provide the Head of Department with:

  • Reasons for appeal; and
  • All relevant information pertaining to the appeal.

The Head of Department shall request the School Governing Body chairperson to forward to him or her within 14 days:

  • A copy of the minutes of the meeting of the SGB at which the application was discussed and a decision taken;
  • Any comments the School Governing Body wishes to make about the application; and
  • Any other information relevant to the appeal.

The Head of Department will:

  • Within 14 days after receipt of the documentation from the parent notify the School Governing Body chairperson of the appeal that has been lodged;
  • Inform the School Governing Body that it cannot take any action against the parent until the appeal is heard; and
  • Within 7 days of deciding on the appeal, inform the School Governing Body and the appellant in writing of his or her decision and the reasons thereof.

For more information, please contact us on info@rajarammvulane.co.za

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