How do I get the parents to pay on time? : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

Hello. I am very irritated as I write this tonight. I have 14 students. They pay a weekly fee of $10.00 for a half-hour lesson. I just finished up this evening after teaching 8 students, pretty much one after the other. I made a total of $30.00. I busted butt, teaching 8 kids, and only made $30.00. (4 of my students are siblings.) --It always seems like it is the same people, too, who do this. Any advice on how to politely get these parents to pay weekly, as is expected? It is very frustrating, as you can see by my mood! Thanks.

-- Deanne (, March 13, 2002


I've always had students pay tuition by the semester. It's easier to keep track of, and if a parent doesn't pay, then the student doesn't get lessons and I fill their slot with someone else.

My advice at this point would be to call the parents and tell them that they owe you $20 at the beginning of the next lesson. If they don't bring the money, send them home without a lesson.

-- Jason (, March 14, 2002.

Having the parents pay weekly at first may seem to be a benefit, but it also (as you have seen) creates an ability for parents to take advantage of your kindness. I would suspect that some of the parents are hoping that you'll forget that they owed you for the lesson. It will become a hot issue later.

The politest and most professional way to deal with this is to include a statement in your studio policies that if a student or parent does not have payment in advance for a lesson, the lesson will not be taught *and* future tuition payments may have to be made on a monthly basis: $40 or $50 per month in advance.

Even if you absolutely need the $140 per week, you do *not* need parents who take advantage of you and expect to receive something for nothing. You are not a bank and cannot extend a line of credit to your students.

If monthly payments in advance are truly a hardship for the families (I assume that is why you are allowing weekly tuition payments), I would at the very least require 2 weeks tuition in advance.

Another option would be to charge more -- say $15 -- if the parents insist on paying week-by-week.

Address this issue as soon as possible. If you don't have a written studio policy yet, let it be known in the policy that repeated failure to pay tuition on time may result in the expulsion of the student from the studio.

Before someone tells me I'm harsh, you're either running a business or you're running a charity. If you choose to donate your time to teach lessons, then that is certainly your choice.

If all my needs were taken care of and all my bills were paid (i.e. I won the lottery or something like that), I would teach for free because I enjoy it that much. However, I have rent to pay on my apartment and my studio, and utilities and insurance, etc ... so I charge for my time. Most parents understand this. Those that don't are not the students you want to have.

-- James King (, March 14, 2002.

I agree that lessons should be paid ahead of time, at the first lesson of each month. And if parents squawk at that, too bad. Just look at other activities kids are involved in around town: gymnastics, dance, art class, etc... These businesses don't usually charge by the week. They charge by the month. Some even charge by the semester, an even bigger hardship on parents. It amazes me how, in my town, parents are willing to plunk down $250 each summer for a 3-week intensive band camp (2 hours per day); and they have 2 or 3 kids to pay for. Yet the camp is always full.

I've found that parents will find a way to come up with tuition in advance. We as teachers are sometimes put in the position of having to "train" our parents. If we let them take advantage of us, th

-- Alexandra (, March 14, 2002.

Another suggestion....

I always charge a $10 late fee (monthly tuition) on any tuition received after the 2nd lesson of the month. If tuition hasn't been received then I send them a pre-printed postcard reminding them that "Tuition is now Past Due", and write the total due (including the late fee). It's amazing how many parents are prompt after that.

-- Alexandra (, March 14, 2002.

I have had great success with parents paying on time. I allow them to choose one of three payment plans: monthly on the first of the month, by semester (a 5% discount) or annually (10% discount). You'd be surprised at how many take the semester or annual options. They like not having to write a check every month.

I do tack on a hefty late charge of $25 if the tuition is more than 7 days late. You have to be willing to follow through on it.

I suggest to parents that are paying monthly that they either set up auto payment at the bank or they can give me postdated checks. One is on auto pay, but the rest simply write a check. In fact, one parent has been late several times because the student missed the first lesson of the month, but she never asks me about the late fee. She always just adds it right in.

It's about how you communicate and follow through with people. Like Ann Landers says, no one can take advantage of you unless you let them.

-- Arlene Steffen (, March 15, 2002.

I agree with all these answers and would like to add that people are very busy today and really don't want to be annoyed with having to pay each week. Do them a favor too and make it simple for them.

Most people are very honest and supportive when you are doing a great job teaching their child. They know they are in piano lessons for the long haul and know they have to pay even when they can't come. However, it is hard to charge people long after the fact. Just charge them monthly or less often--charge them for the spot in your schedule, not for the actual lesson.

I have a calendar dry-erase board where people can write if they are going to be out for the week or need a make-up. Then you can put those people into the empty spots. That softens the blow of missed lessons.


-- Flo Arnold (, March 15, 2002.

Thanks to you all for your good advice! You guys are great!

-- Deanne (, March 16, 2002.

Great answers! I totally agree you need to value yourself and the service you are providing. After all if you don't value yourself, who will? Have a studio policy in place that specifically states what your expectations are in regards to payment. My students pay me one month in advance due the first lesson of the month. If payment is late I charge a late fee of $10. I have each parent sign my policy statement agreeing to the payment terms at the beginning of each semester. There seems to be something about signing something that has helped me get paid when I'm supposed to. Stick to your policy and don't be afraid to enforce it. Good luck!

-- Robin DePanfili (, April 09, 2002.

I have been taeching for 22 years. When I first started out I had students playing by the week and found that they wouldn't come to lessons and wouldn't call to let me know they weren't coming. I was going broke in a heart beat. I changed my method: My charge per week is $12. per 1/2 hour lesson but parents have to pay for the whole month on the first lesson of the month. If they do not make payment I do not teach. I do not give credit if they have to cancel. I will try to work them in if I get an opening. Hope that helps!

-- Annette Ross (, September 06, 2003.

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