Your Costs at Runnels School
Costs and Payment Plans Available
At Runnels, we work very hard to adopt and follow principles concerning costs that are reasonable and serve, ultimately, the best interests of our students. Chief among these principles are: fairness (to all), minimum possible costs to parents, compensation levels for teachers, material resources needed for instruction, small class size, long-term stability of the school, maximum planning time for the school and parents, and the fact that money received earlier is worth more to the school.
Clearly, on any given issue, these principles do not all point in the same direction. In fact, on just about any issue there are several principles pointing in opposite directions, and balancing those opposing valid principles is one of the main functions of the Runnels School Board of Trustees. But the single principle that receives the greatest consideration is the first one, our constant efforts at fairness. Consistent with the fairness principle is the traditional Runnels approach to costs: they are all stated from the beginning and cover all required costs so that there are no surprise assessments to upset your family budget in mid-year. The costs are also stated as early as possible. Various fund-raising efforts that arise from different (worthwhile) school activities are required to be low-keyed in nature, to be truly optional and voluntary on the part of the parents.
Runnels utilizes Smart Tuition to process and collect tuition payments. Smart Tuition also handles billing for Runnels School Services (RSS) such as milk, bus service, some field trips, yearbooks and special events. Smart Tuition accounts are set up at the time of school enrollment. Accounts may be accessed through the Runnels website or at www.parents.smarttuition.com. A Smart Tuition help center is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 888.868.8828. If you have questions about Smart Tuition, contact Renee’ Crow (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the Business Office.
The basic monthly plan requires 12 monthly payments processed by Smart Tuition, beginning in June prior to the start of school. There are also three different advance payment plans whose total costs are less than those of the monthly plan; balancing the lower cost, however, is the earlier payment of the funds and the reduced ability to change your plans without financial penalty. The three advance payment plans are called the “annual,” “semi-annual” and “multi-year” payment plans.
Regardless of the plan adopted, there are four components to the total costs: the (one-time) enrollment tuition, the (annually assessed) resource tuition, the technology tuition, and the general tuition (the largest component). The four components are treated quite differently in two respects: enrollment, resource, and technology are (a) not discounted for early payment or multiple children in a family; and are (b) never refundable or cancelable. General tuition, on the other hand, is clearly discounted for early payment (and is discounted more the earlier the payment), and under certain clearly defined circumstances general tuition is (at least in part) refundable or cancelable. There are also general tuition discounts for the second and third child in the same family.
In deciding which payment plan to elect, parents should consider carefully the various plans’ timing of payments and their rules about refund/cancellation. By balancing the different plans’ advantages and disadvantages, parents can determine which plan best meets their family's unique circumstances.
When Are Payments Due?
Enrollment and Resource Tuition For new students enrolling after February 1 in any class with an opening available for the school year beginning in August of the same year, both enrollment and resource tuition are paid when the enrollment agreement is executed. The enrollment agreement can be completed once the admission requirements have been met, and must be completed shortly after admission has been granted. Parents will be informed of the amount of time available; it is usually five days, but can be shorter in some circumstances.
For new students enrolling before February 1 for the school year beginning the next August, once admission has been granted, the enrollment tuition is paid when the enrollment agreement is completed. The resource tuition may also be paid then or it can be deferred until February 1. The school accepts a few enrollments for school years beginning more distant in the future than the following August. These are called pre-enrollments and are limited in number. The enrollment tuition is paid when the pre-enrollment agreement is accepted by the school; the resource tuition is paid later, once the normal admission requirements have been met. If the admission requirements, including academic testing, are not met, the prepaid enrollment tuition is forfeited.
Students who reenroll by February 1 for the next academic year avoid paying any enrollment tuition. Reenrollment during the month of February must be accompanied by half of the enrollment tuition, and after the month of February by the full enrollment tuition. The resource tuition for reenrolling students may be spread into three payments, due the first of February, March and April.
One portion of the 2016-2017 tuition is dedicated to educational technology improvements and upgrades, including our 1:1 computer initiative (one device per student) for students in grades 4-12. The technology tuition is $300.00 per student for grades 4-6 and $500.00 per student for grades 7-12.
For students paying on the Monthly Plan, there are twelve (12) monthly installments on the year’s contract, beginning in June before the start of school in August. School, of course, is not in session for twelve months. Optional summer camps and other programs are usually offered each summer, but these involve specific fees.
Payments are processed by Smart Tuition, which requires that an account be established and a form of payment provided. There are many advantages to utilizing Smart Tuition because the system makes it easy for you to:
- Select a payment method that works best for you
- Set up recurring automatic payments from your bank account or, for an additional rate, to a credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express)
- Access your account online (www.parents.smarttuition.com.)
- Review account history, transaction details, and print monthly invoices
- Edit your contact information, password and payment method
- Make a payment or set up recurring payments
- Receive payment and follow-up reminders
- For recurring payment, a reminder is emailed 7-10 days before a due date
- For missed payments and outstanding balances, you will receive an email and phone call
- Speak to a customer service representative
- Agents are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
- Call toll free to make a payment at 888.868.8828
It is a convenience for the school to have the year’s tuition paid at one time, in advance, and therefore the school grants discounts to parents who prepay the year’s tuition. Since the value to the school is greater for earlier payment, the discount is greater for earlier payment. This is the basis for the chart of annual tuition payment amounts, the amounts changing every half-month.
The chart of annual tuition amounts is adopted by the Board of Trustees near the beginning of each school year for the following school year, permitting parents the option of paying the next year’s tuition as early as June of the current school year, or to select an annual payment date as late as March (for the school year beginning in August). There are annual payment amounts for July and later for new students.
The semi-annual plan is basically a variation of the annual plan, still calling for the full year’s tuition to be paid prior to the start of school, but in two payments: February 1 and August 1.
Multi-Year Plan The most aggressive tuition strategy for parents is the multi-year plan, whereby tuition is prepaid in full for two years or more with significant savings (ranging from five to forty-two percent, depending on the number of years prepaid). This is the Runnels version of what is called “tuition futures” in some circles. Offsetting the large discounts, however, are severe limitations on cancellations/refunds, and consequently parents should consider those limitations carefully before “investing” in a multi-year tuition contract.
Cancellations and Refunds
All schools dependent on tuition for their financial basis are very restrictive on the subject of cancellation of contracts and refunds of payments. Policies could not be otherwise and still permit sound planning and fiscal stability. Parents should read these policies carefully before signing the Enrollment Agreement. They may be found in full on the reverse side of the Enrollment Agreement and are summarized below. The dates included in those policies are not arbitrarily selected but reflect rather the realities of the mutual selection process that parents and nonpublic schools undergo each year.
As stated earlier, the Enrollment, Resource, and Technology Tuition are never refundable. General Tuition, however, may be partially refundable -- or completely nonrefundable -- depending on (a) the timing of the request for cancellation/refund, (b) the reason for the request, and (c) payment plan specified in the enrollment agreement. When refunds are due, they will be issued within four months of the termination of the contract.
Prior to April 1 of the school year beginning in August, the Enrollment Agreement can be canceled for any reason, for any payment plan other than the multi-year plan. No further tuition payments will be assessed and refunds will be due in accordance with the provisions of the individual plans. Catastrophic illness of the student is grounds, at any date, for cancellation of the remainder of the enrollment agreement; see the individual plans for details of the refund provisions. From April 1 forward, there are no provisions for cancellation/refund for any reason other than catastrophic illness or transfers from Baton Rouge.
Requiring the greatest consideration are moves from the greater Baton Rouge area, with notification given the school on or after April 1. The most liberal from the parents’ standpoint is the monthly payment plan, whereby tuition is simply prorated. On the other hand, with the annual or semi-annual plan, on or after July 1 prepaid tuition payments are nonrefundable even in the event of moves from Baton Rouge. (During April, May and June annual prepayments are partially refundable -- see the plans’ refund provisions for details.)
Catastrophic illness is the only grounds for cancellation of a multi-year enrollment contract. To determine the refundable portion of the amount prepaid, the tuition earned by the school for the period actually attended is recalculated at the regular (non-discounted) rates.
For clarification of any school policies on costs, contact the Business Office at any time (225.751.5712).