Flow Arts Instructors: 8 Ways to Clarify Tuition Policies

Posted on November 17, 2014 by

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Today’s question follows:

Pre-payment for registration is required for a workshop – if a participant doesn’t show, for whatever reason, and the workshop didn’t sell out so they weren’t taking up a paying persons spot, do you refund them?

First, as a business, it’s your job to have a clear policy about this and I’d highly recommend it is stated on your site. While we have a policy page that theoretically explains these details, we also have a note next to each button outlining the relevant details of a purchase. This also helps maintain clarity with your “friends” who are also clients so they understand you have a consistent policy, not something special for them.

Second, your policies for one person’s attendance shouldn’t be based on another person’s attendance. This means that just because you have an open spot doesn’t mean you shouldn’t charge someone who committed to pay for the spot in the class if they are breaking their commitment. You’re still running a business and your relationship with each client is unique.

Third, in that we run educational facilities like a college, I designed our policies (though I haven’t looked at them in years) much like a college. If you register for a class you miss, it’s your responsibility as the student to make up the material. The instructor will rarely reach out to you proactively and generally, you can’t just make up the class, as some people seem to think is possible at flow arts schools.  In addition, if you miss a class in college — due to anything as small as oversleeping to as catastrophic as a death in the family — you do not get a refund for the tuition you paid which is a policy we have also implemented. I find it incredibly useful to explain this to client’s when something arises, though nothing beats the clarity of referring them back to the policy listed right next to the purchase button.

Tips for Tuition

Artist: GlitterGirl
Photo: Tommy Wong

Fourth, because our facilities are also smaller and more niche, that also means we have the option to choose to reach out if we want and to choose to allow the student to transfer the tuition to another course. As such, at my discretion, I will sometimes offer the students that opportunity to transfer the tuition to a future class under the following conditions:

  • their tuition payments are current
  • their financial record is clear/they have been easy to work with
  • they apply themselves as students
  • they will benefit from the session later
  • I don’t lose money by turning away another client in service of them transferring their tuition
  • I will have a session soon enough for which transferring tuition makes sense.

Fifth, when I offer special payment plans, I require students email me and confirm they understand they have to pay regardless of attendance. This is important because our tuition is due the first night of the class series normally so we are going out of our way to extend an interest free payment plan in service of our clients. It’s pretty crappy if we can’t resell that spot because the client made a commitment and then didn’t follow through.

Sixth, I don’t always require students to pay the full tuition as a deposit and I will let them transfer the tuition with more than 7 days notice. I have played around with what the right number for us is and have found that without at least a week’s notice, most people can’t clear their calendar to commit to a series which is why it’s important to ensure client’s understand this up front.

Seventh, since we run series classes with curriculum that builds week to week, when in doubt, we encourage students to consult with us prior to registering for a class to ensure the class is a good fit, ensure they can make the dates of the class and they understand the policy. For some classes, we can squeeze them into another series in which we have an opening or we have video lessons they can use to makeup the material. In other cases, the material may not be dependent so missing a session might work. What’s important is that you clearly communicate with the client to reduce the amount of mis understandings as much as possible. Attrition and chasing students down to get payments was an issue for us before we instituted a clear registration policy and deposit on tuition. In addition to both being reduced, the overall operational overhead is reduced which means less work to make the same amount of money.

Finally, in bold letters next to the purchase button, I put the relevant text about the terms and conditions of payment, even though it’s also listed on the policy page. This is also true if the class has multiple payment options. I will often have them side by side or in a list so clients can compare the prices, such as this purchase information pulled from our upcoming remote Choreography boot camp below.

For individuals:

All Payments are Non Refundable!

  • VIP package: $540 and receive an extra 20 minute private (valued at $45) plus a digital copy of the course manual and appendices (about 50 pages), payable with a $100 down payment due on or before 11/15/14 and 4 additional payments of $110 due on or before the 15th of December, January, February and March.
    Performance & Choreography Class Registration
  • VIP Early Bird package:  $500 and receive an extra 20 minute private (valued at $45) plus a digital copy of the course manual and appendices (about 50 pages), payable with a $100 down payment due on or before 11/15/14 and 4 additional payments of $100 due on or before the 15th of December, January, February and March. Only one spot available for this tuition. SOLD OUT!
  • Semi Pro:  $400 payable with a $100 down payment due on or before 11/15/14 and 3 additional payments of $100 due on or before the 15th of December, January and February.
    Performance & Choreography Class Registration
  • Low Income: $300 payable with a $75 down payment due on or before 11/15 and 3 additional payments of $75 due on or before the 15th of December, January and February. There are 2 spots available at this price; more may be added if more full priced packages are purchased.
    Performance & Choreography Class Registration

For troupes:

If you’d like to take the course with your troupe mates as a single “pod” of people, you are welcome to join us as long as all of you are sitting at the same Google Hangout screen. Please note the private sessions are for the group itself, not that each member of the group gets a private session. All Payments are Non Refundable. 

  • Group VIP Package: $600 for 2 people and receive an extra 20 minute group private (valued at $45) plus a digital copy of the course manual and appendices (about 50 pages). Each group makes a $150 down payment due on or before 11/15/14 and 3 additional payments of $150 due on or before the 15th of December, January & February. To add additional artists to the duo package, add a $160 total to the tuition per student and divide the payments by 4. For example, 4 artists total would be $920 total, making 4 payments of $230 each.
    Performance & Choreography Class Registration
  • Group Semi Pro: $500 for 2 people payable with a $125 downpayment due on or before the 15th of November, 2014 and 3 additional payments of $125 due on or before the 15th of December, January and February. To add additional artists to the duo package, add $160 to the tuition per student and divide the payments by 4. For example, 4 artists would be $820 total making 4 payments of $205 each.
    Performance & Choreography Class Registration

Need business coaching for your academy or performance business? Want to try Zero to Fire in 4 Hours! Or if you want to join our next beginner class or have other questions, contact GlitterGirl directly or subscribe to our newsletter for mailbox delivery of this and other articles written by Temple of Poi founder and visionary, GlitterGirl, who has been a full time flow arts coach and instructor since 2002. If you seek professional guidance associated with creating a safe performance, obtaining a permit in San Francisco or other personalized coaching, contact GlitterGirl directly for a free consultation (GlitterGirl <that pretty little ‘at’ symbol> TempleOfPoi <daaaaaaaught> com).