The collection of school fees owing to a public school is a delicate, involved and controversial activity that is fundamental to the successful operation of any fee paying public school. Without these fees the standard of education in the fee paying schools would drop and irreparable harm would be done to our country and our future.

1. The Right Staff
The most important part of the school fee collections process is the appointment of a suitable person who has sufficient time and with the correct personality for the task. A number of schools rely on someone involved in administration who has a number of other tasks and Admin activities, which don’t allow them to focus on the collections and management of the collection process.

Another potential mistake is the appointment of someone who is not assertive, alternatively overly aggressive or emotional. The task requires someone with a high Emotional Intelligence to deal with potentially very emotional and aggressive parents.

Some schools are reluctant to employ the services of an internal fee collector but the employment of a suitable person will more than pay for their additional expense to the school in increased income, reduced bad debt hand-overs to third party collectors and write offs.

2. Develop a Sound Collections Policy
You need to establish a sound and practical collections policy, which operates within the parameters laid down by the SA Schools Act. This should be a document which lays down the time frames and steps that you take internally in the collections process and at which stage the matter should be handed over for third party collections and the procedures for monitoring their progress.

3. Educate Parents about the financial Needs of the School
A large number of parents do not understand the financial situations of fee paying public schools and how dependant schools are on these fees for their successful operation. Another misconception is that if they qualify for exemptions or partial exemptions that the state pays for this, which is not the case.

A positive step is for schools to educate parents and even high school pupils (learners) on the school budget and just how vital school fees are. This does not mean “preaching to the converted” at AGMs but rather communicating with the broader community of parents through emails and other forums and means of communication.

This is a positive tool in increasing the awareness of the importance of paying schools and thereby encouraging the payment of school fees.

4. Ensure Proper Staff Training
Ensure that this training is preferably with a trainer that is properly legally qualified and who knows collections and collections tools. The trainer should also know the SA Schools Act and the legal developments in all areas of law impacting on collections. Regular training is necessary as the law in South Africa is developing fast and any internal School fee collector needs to be kept abreast of the latest developments in the law and of the newest and best collection methods.

5. Choose the Right Third Party Collector
Invariably someone in the school or the Governing Body knows some attorney or debt collector and recommends them to attend to the fee collections. But the important question is whether that third party collector is a specialist in the field of collections and more specifically the area of public school fee collections which is governed by an Act, that not all attorneys, never mind debtor collectors are very familiar with, the SA Schools Act.

Third party collectors that do not know their way through the mine field of requirements for school fee collections can be a liability to the school. Look for a third party collector with public school references and a proven track record in the collection of school fees.

Should you require any assistance or advice on any of the above issues please don’t hesitate to contact us, Brett Bentley on +27 87 654 3399 or .

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