Wants refund on school fees

| 20/09/2018

Ask Auntie, CNS Local Life, Caymanian statusI have enrolled my three young children in one of the private schools in West Bay. We weren’t happy with the school and transferred them back to their old school but the West Bay school is telling us that they have a rule of no refund. We paid an annual tuition fee for all three of our kids. This is a lot of money not to be refunded. I understand not to refund the first month but not the rest of the year.

Please advise what is the Education Dept ruling on this. We saved our money for the whole year to be able to pay the annual tuition to get some discount. With the high cost of living here, we worked hard to save and this is how it will turn out? Your feedback on this will be highly appreciated.

Well, first of all, the Department of Education Services has no input at all over the business aspects of private schools in the Cayman Islands. At various times, government schools inspectors have inspected and reported on private schools, but that is purely on academic matters and with full permission and cooperation of the school in question — the idea of inspections is to improve the teaching and learning at that school.

As far as school fees go, the school is a business like any other and dictate their own terms. I’m guessing that one reason for that no-refund policy is that when a child takes a place at that school, it blocks it for another child. The private schools here tend to have waiting lists, so there would have been plenty of parents wanting that place for their own child.

So, from the school’s point of view, while they may have easily filled the three places given to your children before the beginning of the year, it may be difficult now because parents don’t tend to move their children mid-year — even if it’s only a few weeks into the new academic year. If they refunded you, they would lose out financially.

The question you’re really asking is what legal right do you have to demand the school fees back. I imagine that before you paid the funds, you signed a contract with the school. I suggest that you read that very carefully to see if there is a no-refund clause, which I suspect is the case, and what the conditions are.

Not being a lawyer, I cannot possibly advise you as to how watertight that contract is. You said you weren’t happy with the school, but there is no indication in your question that there was something terribly wrong or some particular incident that caused you to move your children, which may have given you legal leverage.

However, if you really want to fight it, I suggest that you do consult a lawyer. They aren’t cheap either but a single meeting may be enough to find out if you have a case.

Before you do that, it may be worth sitting down with the school administrator or principal at the West Bay school to discuss the situation and explain why you weren’t happy with things, and perhaps you can work something out. My advice is to remain calm and polite; a confrontational approach will get you nowhere.

I doubt this is the answer you were looking for and I really feel for your predicament. We all want the best for our children and stretch funds to give them that. I really do hope that things work out for you.

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Category: Ask Auntie, Education Questions

Comments (12)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Why should you get to break your promise which is what your contract with the school was? Are you special and different? No, move on then and be off with you!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I doubt that no refund policy is legally enforceable.

  3. Anonymous says:

    By the Grace of God you will get your money back.

    • Anonymous says:

      You would think a Christian organization would find it in their hearts to do the right thing and at least offer a partial refund.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Same at every private school everywhere—no refunds.

  5. Anonymous says:

    1.) This school does not have a waitlist, they are well under enrollment for almost every grade level.

    2.) Most parents pay monthly tuition, but if you pay for the year as one payment you receive a rebate. Parents should not be charged for the full year if they pull their child when a different family who was paying monthly can walk away without owing a year’s worth of tuition.

    3.) The administrator at this school lied about the credentials of the staff, and services offered. There are no textbooks or resources for the children.

    • Anonymous says:

      1) That should have told you something before you enrolled your kids.

      2) That’s the risk you take paying up front. It’s the cost of the “savings” compared with the total amount you would pay monthly.

      3) You should have done your due diligence before enrolling your kids. You were entering into a business arrangement.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Or you could have suggested that they attend a free legal council session….

    • Anonymous says:

      When and where?

      • Anonymous says:

        Just tried to Google it and am not seeing the details. I do know it exists because they helped me. At that time it was located at the Compass Centre. (Next to where Butterfield used to be)

        Auntie can you not help direct please?

        Auntie: I covered this in a previous question. I hope that this info is still up to date. Please let me know if you have problems. See Need legal advice for contested will