The Annual Budget for the 2016/2017 year was released at the end of February and a few interesting proposals were presented. Of these, one of the most beneficial proposals encourages South African citizens to pursue bursaries from their employer.
With the proposed increase of the fringe benefit tax exemption threshold – the tax on various employee benefits that are outside of the employee salary – companies are now able to increase the financial amount set aside for bursaries for their employees’ education. In some cases, these bursaries are offered to the relatives of the employees. The bursaries are available across primary, secondary and tertiary level.
If you are considering studying, or know of a family member that would like to study, it is a good idea to find out whether your company sets aside bursary funds, and what your company can offer you.
- If you, or a family member, needs funding for basic education – from Grade R to Grade 12 – the bursary allowance has increased from R10 000 to R15 000 a year. The bursary is tax tax-free up to R15 000.
- If you, or a family member, needs funding for higher education – for any qualification ranging from a higher certificate to a doctorate degree – the bursary allowance is increased from R30 000 to R40 000 a year.
Are you interested in studying?
- If you are currently employed, and are interested in studying, it is a good idea to contact your employer and ask whether they offer a bursary as a benefit of employment.
- If so, there is no income threshold that applies to you if the bursary is for your personal studies. This means that there is no level of minimum earning, and you will be able to apply for studies; with the company bursary; despite your annual earnings.
Do you have a relative that needs financial assistance with their studies?
- If you have a family member that is interested in studying, or needs assistance with funding their studies, contact your employer and find out if they offer bursaries for the relatives of their employees.
- If you are enquiring about a bursary for a relative, the income eligibility threshold for the employee is to be increased from R250 000 to R400 000 – as stated during the Annual Budget Speech. This means that if your earnings are anywhere below R400 000 per year, you will be able to apply for a bursary through your company on behalf of a family member.
The cost of education is extremely high in South Africa and the increased funding for bursaries will help to decrease, or even eliminate, these costs. If you, or a family member, is interested in studying, we encourage you to investigate these bursaries.