Joe Brewer Consulting Partner

In this article, Consulting Partner Joe Brewer discusses assorted options available to schools in improving the recovery and payment of school fees.

Many parents have great aspirations for their children (and rightly so), and this often includes sending them to private schools. However, this inevitably comes at a cost and some parents do struggle with fees, with some failing to meet them in full. 

Non-payment of fees inevitably puts huge pressure on those responsible for finance and collection of fees within the school. Typically referred to as the bursar, treasurer, finance director, chief operations officer, business manager, deputy, or accounting assistant, their goal is to ensure recovery of fees from parents. 

Having experience of this myself - I was a volunteer treasurer for a small private school from 1993 to 2006, I can certainly relate to the pressure of ensuring that fees are collected!

If the school implements a firm enrolment contract, it has several options it can explore regarding the collection of unpaid fees or to reduce the number of families who withdraw children without notice. These include:

  • Sending out regular notices in school publications such as newsletters to remind all families that school fees are due and payable on a specific date.
  • Offering a discount on fees that are paid up front or in advance for the full semester or year.
  • Publishing an article or sending a reminder to families at the end of third term (or at other similar times) that they need to give notice now if their child will not be returning for the following year.
  • Personal follow up (calls, letters, emails, and interviews) of all late paying families that commences on the day following the due date for fee payments.
  • Imposition of ‘liquidated damages’ claims for lack of notice or overdue payment.
  • Using the services of a debt collection agency.
  • Seeking damages through the courts - including judgement debts, property seizure, or garnishee orders; and
  • Cancellation of the enrolment of the child or children - usually followed up with ongoing action to recoup the fees.

Before an offer of a place is made for a new student, it’s important that schools ensure that the parents can afford the school fees and other expenses associated with their child attending the school. Clearly it is far better to take this proactive approach rather than a reactive debt collection approach! 

Whilst, schools will not want to, or indeed be licenced to, give financial planning or tax advice, what they can do is work with Chartered Financial Planners or Chartered Tax Advisors, who can assist parents to structure their finances in such a way that allows them to settle school fees tax efficiently. 
Oldfield Advisory LLP have a solution for company directors/ business owners to pay school fees tax efficiently   https://www.oldfieldadvisory.com/articles/2021/07/375-back-to-school-pay-school-fees-tax-efficiently

For more information on how we can work with your school to assist parents to ensure they are able to cover their school fees efficiently, please contact us at info@oldfieldadvisory.com or call 02476673160.

Please note: This article is provided for information only and was correct as at time of writing (01/04/22). Any lists and details provided above are not exhaustive and are not intended to be full and complete guidance.  No action should be taken without consulting detailed legislation or seeking independent professional advice. Therefore no responsibility for loss occasioned by any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the material contained in this article can be accepted.