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Deposits for Private Schools
We just got a call that our daughter could come in for an observation at
very desirable preschool,
and that it was likely but not certain that she'd have a place
fall. Since the observation date is late March, I believe we'll have to
our other school options before we even get to visit! I've read
posts that the school is great but really don't have much information to
rejecting our other school choices.
I'm just wondering what other parents in this situation experienced.
thanks so much for your help.
We were in a similar
situation for preschool. The school that best fit our family was
very slow getting out acceptance letters and we had no idea what
our chances were of getting in. So we accepted a place at the
only other school we had applied to. A month later we got into
our first choice school and took it. We lost a big deposit but
feel we made the right choice. It sounds like you are doing the
right thing by getting all the information you can so that you
can make the best decision you can, but if money is an issue, you
will also want to factor that into your decision. Good luck!
I am assuming it is a common problem: You aren't sure of
getting into a good public, so you choose a private school that
accepts you, you make a promise to have your child attend, and
you pay a deposit. Then, if you get lucky enough to get into a
public you feel good about, you have to renege on your
agreement with the private school. I am sure the privates must
be all-too-familiar with this scenario. How do you ethically
and logistically navigate around this problem? Obviously, you
lose your deposit, which makes sense, but can they hold you
captive for more than the deposit? I believe many privates
require you to sign a vow, essentially, that you commit to
paying for the entire year. How do people handle this delicate
situation? I would like to hear people's experiences. Perhaps
certain schools are more laid-back than others. I heard through
the mill that someone just had to pay for their kid's entire
school year tuition, even though their child got into a public
in the first month or so of the school year.
Pray tell. Thanks.
My Daughter went to private schools and my experience was that I
had to sign a contract stating that I was responsible for the
entire years payments. I also found that unlike preschool where
you make a deposit when accepted and then make monthly payments
after they start in the fall. In private schools you start
making the monthly payments in the spring/summer(May I think),
so by the time school starts you have paid for a large chunk
Private schools are very clear about the timeline and financial
penalties for making a commitment. The closer you get to the
beginning of the school year, the greater the payment. This is
purely a business proposition for the private school (and I don't
mean that in a bad way, it's just reality). The school has X
number of spaces in kindergarten to fill, which will bring in Y
tuition dollars. If you tell them that your child is enrolling
in September, then the school holds that place for her and turns
down other students. If, later on, you decide not to enroll,
then the school has to spend time and resources to fill that
space, or else forgo the tuition. The reason for not enrolling
your child -- whether it is to go to public school, move to a new
city, or a change of mind -- doesn't make a difference.
If you think you might want to hold a space that you might forgo
if you get into the public school you want, you should make sure
you are aware of the deadlines for deposits and tuition.
When you accept a place at a private school, you are signing a
contract. As with any other contract you sign, you should be
prepared to honor its terms and perform your side of the
bargain. How would you like it if you did NOT get into a ''good
public'' but the private school then said, ''Gee, we've changed
our mind about your child?'' That said, some schools are
reportedly more relaxed than others -- mainly because they have
a sizeable waiting list and have no problem filling the place.
In that case, it would be improper for them to require payment
for something that they were then ''selling'' to someone else.
That is, they would have no damages from your departure. From
your post, it sounds as though the people who had to pay the
full year's tuition had used the private school for a month.
Might have hard for the school to find a replacement at that
point. Read the contract(s) carefully; some offer tuition
insurance in case you want/need to pull out. There are also
private tuition insurance companies that you can use for your
Here's your cautionary tale from the school's perspective: they
gave a spot to this child, and they may well have turned away
another applicant to do so. After the school year had already
started, they were informed that the child would not be attending
after all. At that point they had very little chance of finding
another child for that spot, but they had already made all their
staffing decisions for the year and were locked into those costs.
The rent and the teachers' salaries remain the same whether or
not that child is in the classroom. So while I'm sure it was an
unpleasant situation for that family, from the school's
perspective it's pretty understandable. Most private schools are
nonprofits, I should add.
Different schools have different policies about parents'
liability beyond the deposit, so my advice is to read any
contract very carefully before you sign it and assume that you
will be held to the terms. You can always plead your case with
the school, of course, but if you think you may need to be
released from the contract then your safest bet is to purchase
tuition insurance. (I know, it seems silly, like health insurance
for your pet or something, but it's one way to ensure that
neither you nor the school takes too much of a hit financially.)
Private school administrator
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