Can the school blacklist me for not paying school fees?

Parent24 regularly receives questions on about school fees, and when appropriate we reach out to local experts and legal professionals for advice. Send your questions to chatback@parent24.com.


Many families are facing severe financial challenges as the Covid-19 lockdown devastates the economy, and it's no wonder some parents are unable to afford school fees. 

This parent wrote to us asking if it's possible for a school to blacklist him for not paying fees, so we asked a local law firm for insight.

"In light of the lockdown and subsequent job losses and salary cuts, can the school blacklist me for not paying school fees?"

Advocate Kaiel Grobler of LAW FOR ALL provided us with some helpful information.

"Covid-19 is impacting household budgets in ways no one could've predicted. South African workers face an uncertain future, earning a significantly reduced salary or no income at all," he told us. 

Of course, this has left many parents unable to meet all their financial obligations, including paying their children's school fees. 

"While a ban on blacklisting and removal of adverse information on consumer profiles are on the cards, the Department of Trade and Industry is yet to make official announcements," he explained.

Also read: Lockdown: What is happening to aftercare facilities, and their teachers?

That means, public schools can 'blacklist' parents with a credit bureau if they fall in arrears, do not pay the outstanding school fees and fail to apply for school fee exemption.

"Keep in mind that even during the lockdown, parents have to pay school fees, but if they cannot afford to pay, they can apply for school fee exemption," Grobler  reminded us. 

When parents fall in arrears, the school's governing body has to find out if they qualify for the exemption. The body must inform parents of their right to apply, before taking any legal action to enforce the payment of fees.

Also read: OPINION: 'Since schools are closed, should school fees be waived?' 

"The school will have to provide proof that they sent written communication to the parents to confirm that they haven't applied for an exemption and must be given 3 months to pay the outstanding amount," he said. 

Where their finances and credit records are at stake, parents shouldn't leave it up to the school to inform them of, and protect their rights.

It's a good idea to read up as much as possible about the process, reach out to the principal or governing body about the situation and to apply for an exemption, Grobler advises.

Are you struggling to pay your fees? How is the school handling the situation? Let us know. 

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