Updated: Jan 25, 2021
1. Continuous Enrollment Contracts/Agreements - Benefits include:
Creates client satisfaction by simplifying initial enrollment and re-enrollment.
Retention is boosted by emphasizing a long-term continuous enrollment process.
Cash flow improves, customer service calls decrease, and efficiencies are created.
2. Think About How You Will Communicate Before You Draft a CEA Contract - This will help you build out a contract that makes sense to families.
Draft a letter with key information and instructions for families to follow.
It should include why you are changing over to a CEA agreement and the benefits.
Include frequently asked questions such as:
How do I re-enroll my student? How do I disenroll?
How can I check the status to confirm re-enrollment?
What if I am unsure about whether I will be re-enrolling my child?
What is the first payment or deposit and when is it due?
What if I want to know my financial award amount first?
What if I am uncertain about re-enrollment and miss the deadline?
How are tuition and fee changes adjusted?
How do I terminate the CEA agreement?
3. Critical Clauses for Enrollment Contracts
The main continuous enrollment contract for new students should be organized in sections and cover information below, but the CEA addendum doc for returning students should be quite brief and allow for a quick sign-off The whole point is they do not need to initial each clause or read the full contract yearly. The main contract for new students should include:
Academic and Behavioral Expectations
Reasons for dismissal and how withdrawals are handled.
Full disclosure of all costs, including: tuition, room, board, incidentals, and fees.
Refund Policies to clearly detail the policies, procedures, and legal protections.
Force Majeure clause to cover all potential disasters that could interrupt operations.
Health policies, procedures, and requirements, as well as privacy law.
Fiscal Responsibility of parties involved and repercussions for non-payment.
Impact of non-disclosures, incorrect information and consequences.
4. Don't' Forget a Force Majeure Clause - Prepare for all possible situations, so make sure you include the following and any other legal recommendations:
List the kinds of events beyond a school's control to include, but not limited to: natural disasters (e.g. tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunami, earthquake, wildfires) pandemics, cyber attacks, terrorism, wars, campus fire, and governmental action.
Obligations may be suspended, changed, or modified immediately due to force majeure causes or issues. Timing depends on when it is safe or prudent to resume campus operations.
Service delivery can take the form of distance learning or other synchronous and asynchronous virtual methods as determined.
Distance or other forms of educational service delivery do not imply tuition refunds (or state your specific policy on tuition, boarding, and fees).
If your school elects to allow more flexibility to make a determination, indicate room, board, books, uniforms, laundry, incidentals, international insurance, fees, and special programs will be handled based on a fair and final determination by the school Head and Board of Trustees.
Consider a clause allowing parents to apply credits or balances towards the next school year or directing funds to assist families in need.
5. Release Schedule and Deadlines - Be consistent with contract content and releases.
Set an annual schedule for contract releases for new and returning students. Send the full contract for new and an abbreviated CEA addendum for returning students.
Private boarding and day schools vary, but most release contracts in January, February, or March. Top schools have tight timelines to lock in contracts very early to build wait lists; however, many schools now roll through the late spring and summer to fill spaces.
To accelerate contract submissions, provide incentives to turn the agreement in by a specific date. Incentives may include: early bird tuition discounts, special uniform or book discounts, or even bookstore credits.
Ensure the timeline is clear, including the CEA deadline and Re-enrollment CEA Addendum, financial aid deadline, registration event dates, and the date for the first day of classes.
6. Seek Expertise - To avoid many pitfalls, make sure the CEA is carefully reviewed.
Make sure departments read over the full contract as well as the CEA addendum clauses and review the full draft with the executive office.
Always ask legal to review any contracts, agreements or addendums after the draft is complete. Follow this practice every year, even for minor modifications. Do it early to avoid delayed releases.
7. How to Release Contracts and/or CEA Addendums - Determine the best release method.
Select the best method for release, whether it is through your CRM, docusign for the addendums, emails, or hard copy mailings.
Electronic signatures in most states are considered legal and binding, but ensure you follow protocols.
Reinforce information via your website, emails news, and through personal contact calls.
Need Some Help in Editing, Reviewing, or Developing a CEA or Clauses?
Aperture Advisory Associates is here to help. Affordable Fees and Free Advisory Session.