Why Monthly Tuition is the Way to Go

In 2013 I switched from charging a per lesson fee to charging a monthly tuition fee. I am so glad that I did. Here are my favorite things about the monthly tuition system:

  • I can budget based on a fixed monthly amount
  • I can build in paid holidays and sick days if I want to
  • I always know how much someone owes me and when it is due
  • It makes incorporating yearly raises simple
  • If a student cancels, I still get paid!

I’ll take you on the step by step process of how I calculate my tuition. The first thing I have to do is decide how much I want to make per hour. This number will vary by region and the experience of the teacher, but as an example, let’s say I want to make $50/hr.

The next step is to decide how many weeks I want to work each year. I like to teach during the summer, so I teach 42 out of the 52 weeks in a year. I usually take two weeks off for Christmas, one week off for Thanksgiving, three weeks for vacation, and I leave the other four weeks available for sickness or cancellations due to gigs. I call those remaining four weeks “flex weeks” and inform my students that I’ll be taking them at some point during the year.

Once I have those numbers decided, the rest is just math. If I’m calculating tuition for a student with a 45 minute lesson, I multiply .75 (because 45 minutes is .75 of one hour) by my hourly rate ($50). Then I multiply that by the number of weeks I want to be paid for during the year. (If I want paid sick and vacation days, then this number is 52, if I don’t care to be paid for weeks I don’t work, then this number is 42.) Once that number is calculated, I have my yearly income figured out. Then I divide that number by 12 to calculate the monthly tuition.

((lesson length x hourly rate) x weeks in the year)/12 = monthly tuition

((.75 x $50) x 42)/12 = $131.25 per month

I require payment by the 10th of the month. Then I charge a $1 per day late fee. I only allow make-up lessons if another student cancels and I can fit the make-up lessons in the cancellation. These policies have left me with a stress-free tuition policy! If the above math was confusing and/or you’d like to see some other examples for teachers who don’t teach year round, see this post.

I believe that music teachers deserve yearly raises. I give myself a $1 per hour raise each year. I stick the new hourly rate in my formula and quickly calculate the next year’s tuition.

It has worked very well. Parents don’t complain. They are used to paying monthly tuition fees. If your bassoon parents push back, I recommend sharing Wendy Steven’s brochure Where Does My Music Tuition Go? It’s written for piano parents, but it applies to all instruments.

Check back soon for an upcoming post about how I calculate fees for non-standard lesson arrangements (every-other-week lessons, group lessons, a la carte lessons, etc.)  


3 thoughts on “Why Monthly Tuition is the Way to Go

  1. Reply

    […] important for me to keep attendance records because I teach on a monthly tuition system. Some months I only teach two lessons per student. Some months I teach five, yet the parents pay […]

  2. Reply

    […] two best policy changes I ever made were moving to monthly tuition and implementing an annual Registration and Materials Fee. I charge a $50 fee that covers all books […]

  3. Reply
    Ed Calfee - August 8, 2018

    I like to charge by the lesson. There are times I want to cancel or the student needs to cancel…this makes if fair for everyone. What if I or my student gets sick? He still has to pay for the whole month if it is on the pay by the month basis. That just causes hurt feelings. It is just a simpler method for me to charge by the lesson.

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