What can you do if the school that is right for your child is not right for your budget? You have three options: Scholarships, Bursaries or Fee Exemption/Subsidy.
Scholarships are generally based on achievement in a particular field: academic, sporting or cultural. Some schools offer their own scholarships to attract talented learners and it is always worth asking the school of your choice if they do offer scholarships. There are also several NGOs and trusts that provide scholarships in the Western Cape; each has its own entrance criteria based on a combination of talent, leadership potential and financial need, and all will have responsibilities that you must fulfil to the scholarship provider.
Bursaries are grants based on financial need. They may also take into account academic, sporting or cultural ability and leadership potential. Bursaries may cover a percentage of school fees or the whole of school fees. Some schools in the Western Cape offer bursaries to financially disadvantaged learners. Schools that are seeking to increase cultural diversity may target learners from a particular racial background. It is always worth asking the school of your choice if they offer bursaries. You can also ask your employers if they will be willing to pay fees for your child.
The Department of Education makes provision for families that can’t pay fees to attend fee-paying schools via the Fee Exemption regulations. The Department is quite clear that schools are not to exclude learners on the basis of inability to pay fees.
There is a process in place for calculating whether a family can be exempted from full fees or considered for a fee subsidy (a partial discount). The formula takes into account how many children from the family are in government fee-paying schools. In general, if the school fees for one child are more than 10% of your annual gross (before deductions) earnings, you are eligible for total exemption of fees for that one child.
Exemptions and subsidies are applied for through your school bursar with applications due in January each year. The school is able to get only a very small portion of exempted fees reimbursed by the Department, so it is important that you do pay your fees if you can.