Is it possible to increase your school’s tuition without losing students? Absolutely!
Not only is it possible for you to effectively raise your rates, but it’s also essential that you do so on a regular basis. By the way, raising rates isn’t something that you should apologize about. It’s what enables you to improve your school and ensure that you’re moving forward.
So, how do you increase your tuition fees without decreasing your enrollment numbers? Keep reading. In this post, we’ll discuss exactly how to do it. Let’s get started.
Everything starts with research. Before you increase tuition, it’s important that you find out how much your local population can afford to spend.
Check out other private schools in your area. How much do they charge? What are their enrollment numbers? (You may be able to locate this information on their websites.)
Also, take into account other fees that the average family in your area may pay. For example, how much are the fees for sports, clubs, and other extracurricular activities that your students may participate in? This is often overlooked, but parents do factor in these activities when determining how much they can afford to pay in education costs.
Once you have a good idea of how much your targeted families pay or expect to pay, you can make an educated guess on how much to raise your tuition cost. And I use the word “guess” because it’s always a guess, but an educated one is better than a shot in the dark. It will safeguard you from placing a financial burden on current and prospective enrollees.
Raise Tuition Yearly
Here’s another way to make tuition increases more manageable: Raise tuition rates every year.
Instead of raising rates unpredictably, you raise rates consistently. This produces several fruits:
First of all, you get parents comfortable with the idea that every year, they should expect a slight increase in tuition costs. While no one wants to pay more, everyone understands that costs rise consistently. They expect to pay more over time, just as they expect to get paid more over time.
Secondly, raising rates consistently means that you can ease the increase. Instead of delaying an increase for five years until you can’t make ends meet and then raising tuition rates by an astronomical 25-50%, you can slowly increase the rate every year. It’s a lot easier to swallow a 5% increase every year than a 25% increase out of nowhere.
If you want parents to stick with you, increase the rate steadily but in small percentages every year.
Get on the Same Page With Your Staff
Before you sell the tuition increase to your parents, make sure that you sell it to your staff first. Because teachers and front office staff meet with parents regularly, they’re on the front line. They may be confronted by families who ask, “Why the increase? Why now?” Arm your staff with answers to these questions. Help them understand why you’re increasing your tuition, and how the increase will affect them personally (more benefits, better equipment, improved facilities, etc.).
Also, encourage your staff to have open and honest conversations with your families. A rate increase isn’t something that you’re trying to hide, obviously. And there’s no need to feel ashamed or defensive about the rate increase. You and your staff’s attitude about the tuition increase are contagious so make sure that it’s a positive one.
Justify Your Tuition Rates
Before introducing the rate increase to your families, make a list of what you plan to accomplish with the added revenue.
Would you like to hire more teachers? Give your current staff a raise? Buy new equipment? Make improvements to your campus?
Have concrete goals that are specific, realistic, and can be completed within the next year. The idea is to show your parents exactly how the money is used so that they’ll trust you when the next increase comes around.
Introduce New Programs
Piggybacking off of the last point, you can easily justify a tuition increase by developing and introducing a new program.
Perhaps you’d like to introduce a French, Chinese, or Spanish immersion program. Your families may be excited about the new offering and motivated to pay extra. You could also offer after school enrichment programs such as yoga, art, sports, and more. Instead of participating in a separate activity, your enrolled families may be happier to choose your all-in-one offering.
Align your offer with the needs and desires of your area.
It’s also a good idea to get rid of programs that no longer serve your school. Perhaps they are too costly to run or they’re simply not popular with your student body. Whenever the case, if the program has gone stale, don’t be afraid to remove it. As an added bonus, doing so will free up your budget. This may mean that you won’t need to increase tuition as much as you initially planned.
At the end of every year, evaluate each program that you offer to figure out if you should keep it, toss it, or retool it.
Don’t just assume that your enrolled families know and understand all of the benefits and services that you provide. Help your parents learn about the strengths and unique offerings of your school.
The best way to do this is through an on-going email campaign. Every month, send out an email newsletter to your families that champion your school and the accomplishments you’ve made throughout the month and year. It’s important to share your news while it’s still fresh and exciting.
Also, don’t hog the mic. Encourage families to leave testimonials about your different programs and initiatives. This gives your newsletter the added element of social proof which will motivate your parents to trust you.
Resist the Urge to Compete on Price
I know it’s tempting but resist the urge to compete on price.
While you need to know what your competitors do and offer, don’t pattern your tuition rate or increase after their model. Instead, take an inventory of what you offer (compared to other schools in your area) and see what makes you different. Take that difference and use it to champion your rate increase.
Shift the emphasis from cost to value. You can never really compete on price. There’s always going to be a cheaper alternative out there. And besides, cheap often equates to low value and/or quality. That’s not your goal. Your goal is to prove that your school is the superlative option, and you’ll do that by highlighting your value-adds, not your cost.
Last, but certainly not least, let your gratitude show. While schooling may be compulsory, attendance in your private school is not. Take the time to appreciate every enrolled family by thanking them sincerely in your tuition increase letter and in person when they re-enroll.
Remember: When it comes to increasing your school’s tuition, don’t be scared, don’t apologize, and don’t blame inflation. To grow your school, you’ll need to increase tuition fees accordingly. But the process doesn’t need to be painful or even unpleasant. Use the above tips to effectively raise rates without losing your current students.