Every school owner will tell you that one of the biggest problems they face every school term is defaults in school fees payment. This problem should be checked on time before it escalates.

This article addresses what school owners should do if there are defaults in school fees payment.

A private school

In our bi-weekly training for school owners and school administrators, the major questions they ask are always related to school fees debt collection.

How do I get my money from students who owe me?”

Please tell me what else I can do, after all I have done, to get parents to pay?”

“My pupils are not paying their school fees. What can I do?”

“What methods or techniques can I use to ensure that parents or guardians pay their wards’ fees on time?”

Our training, Fee Collection and Debt Reduction Strategy for Private School Growth, was designed for school owners and administrators, to provide proven solutions to this pressing problem.

Being a school owner comes with a lot of responsibilities and a lot of bills.

School owners need these fees to be paid in order to run the school efficiently. Really, this issue is a major concern that school owners would like to do without because it has a negative effect on a school’s financial position. 

School owners can get discouraged when it comes to the collection of school fees. In a real sense, this is the time to be resolute in your stance.

You need funds to run your school, and that is why you must ensure that all fees are paid on time.

To guarantee your students’ school fees are fully paid involves being strategic in your approach with the parents. You do not want to be too unbending neither do you want to be too weak.

Some school fees recovery methods might be too extreme and backfire on the school. These methods might cause parents to withdraw their children from your school.

Some methods, on the other hand, might be too weak, that parents will not take you seriously at all. As a school owner, you do not want that.

In today’s post, I will tell you how you can ensure your students’ school fees are fully paid.

But first, let us consider this:

School fees payment periods

School fee becomes a debt when the deadline given for payment elapses.

Inability to meet up could be tagged late payment and late payment if not actively guided against can lead to bad debt. The payment period is divided, thus :

Early payment: this is when parents pay their wards’ fees before school resumes. Schools must ensure they provide parents with early notice of payment requests and list all the payment options available. This will enable parents to plan for the new school term and budget accordingly.

First weeks’ school term payment: this is usually made within the first weeks of school resumption. Schools usually give parents a respite of 1 – 2 weeks after the school resumption. Most times, schools are forced to extend this grace period.

Late school term payment: this payment is made after the mid-term or during the exam period. It’s usually towards the end of the term. Schools at these periods force parents to pay by sending their wards out of school or threatening to prevent these students from writing their tests or exams. 

Full-fledged debt: to prevent this unpaid school fees from becoming an unwanted debt, the school needs to start engaging early with parents. When fees are not paid at the end of a term or session, it becomes a bad debt.

What you must do before it becomes a bad debt. 

As they say, a stitch in time saves nine. It is pertinent to trigger early payment before it becomes bad debt.

Late fee payment is bad for business, so let’s dive in on how to effectively collect your school fees.

Tips to ensure your students’ fees are fully paid. 

It is necessary to put in place specific strategies to ensure that your students’ school fees are not carried forward to another term or session.

  But how should you about this?

Continue reading.

Send reminder text and emails during the break

It is not enough to attach a fee bill with a report.  Parents are usually occupied with so many things and might forget, especially when the holiday is a long one. You must make sure to remind them. 

However, be strategic when carving your message, do not just jump into money matters immediately. Let them know you care. Start with greetings. 

Verbal reminders

Speak to the parents directly or give them a call.

Give the students that are old enough a reminder message home to their parents.

Assign class teacher to deliver the message on behalf of the little ones that cannot deliver the message personally.

Send a reminder email to parents

In the first 1 -2 weeks of the term, you need to start reminding parents of their financial obligation.

Activate the debt recovery process

After adopting the aforementioned strategies, and some parents still fail to pay, you must activate the debt recovery process. 

One on one talk with parents

Either through phone calls or inviting them over to the office. Discuss with parents, and know the reason they are not able to meet their financial obligations.

Engage early with defaulters to be able to work out an alternative payment arrangement. 

Make defaulters set a deadline

After having a talk with parents and getting to know their reasons for defaulting, ask them to set a payment date for themselves.

That agreement should be a written one, and the date of payment stated in clear terms.

Most people understand what it means to make a promise; thus, they would work towards fulfilling it. 

Have a legally-binding enrollment contract

Before parents enroll their children in your school, let them sign this contract. In this contract, you should state clearly what the consequences are. Some of the consequences could include:

  • Preventing the defaulter from writing tests and exams. Let students know that payment of tuition fees is a criterion for writing tests and exams as this would trigger parents to pay. 
  • Sending the defaulters home as punishment after the grace period has passed.
  • Cease the defaulters’ end-of-term report sheets.

The application of these methods will deter both current and potential defaults. 

Other strategies for effective debt recovery

  • Collect previous debt before new ones. Ensure the defaulters pay their old debt in full before allowing them to commence another term/session with you.
  • Allow for a flexible payment arrangement. Ensure that parents know and understand these payment options.
  • Assign a debt collection officer or team. This could be any of your trusted staff to be in charge of school fees debt collection.
  • Reward parents who pay early: This could be a 5% or 10% discount or a branded gift item like a calendar, t-shirt, books.

How we can help

At Trenova Private School Growth Academy, we deploy the Nova Strategies for Private School Growth to build a private school that leads the market and dominate the competition.

For 12 years, we have worked with over 10,000 private schools and 15,000 school leaders to grow their enrollment by 100-600 in a single term, increase annual revenue, reduce school fees debt and increase staff productivity.

We have helped some to increase revenue from 8m-150m in 3 years and many to double their businesses in 2-4 years.

Let’s work together to grow your school.

Zainab Iwayemi

Zainab Iwayemi is a graduate of University of Ilorin. She is a passionate writer who believes so much in making impart and attaining development with the power of the pen. Driven by hunger for success, she strives for a better tomorrow and uphold integrity as her watchword. She is a lover of poem and stories. She also takes photographs.


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