Tuition agreements are a necessary component of private education, yet they are rarely given the necessary review and preparation. Private schools cannot operate or educate without financial resources. Tuition agreements are contracts that set out the rules regarding payment, ensuring a uniform, transparent process that protects both schools and families. Major events, like the COVID-19 pandemic, underscore the importance of tuition agreements because they dictate the rules that are in place regarding payment in the event that something unexpected happens to a student, a family, or school operations.
Below are some key components of tuition agreements that every private school needs to know about.
- The Term of the Agreement. The tuition agreement ought to specify the dates of the school year that this tuition agreement governs.
- Total Tuition. The agreement needs to include any deposits and activity fees and indicate when payments that are non-refundable. The agreement also needs to delineate what the late fees are for payments and at what rate interest accrues.
- Due Dates. Agreements ought to indicate when payments are due. For example: if a school divides tuition payments into ten installments, the tuition agreement ought to indicate how much is due monthly and on what date the school expects the tuition.
- Absence, Illness, and Withdrawal. The tuition agreement should include the school’s policy on how much a family will pay in the event that a child can no longer attend school for a period of time, or for the duration of the school year.
- Uncontrollable Events. Tuition agreements need to indicate what payments are expected if a school shuts down due to an uncontrollable event. If a school plans to operate virtually in the event of a closure, the tuition agreement ought to indicate what the tuition rate will be under these circumstances.
- Amendments. Tuition agreements are not meant to be changed. As such, the agreement must indicate who has the power to amend it.
Please keep in mind that every school is unique, and that tuition agreements ought to be reviewed by counsel before being distributed to families.