Ask the Experts: Dealing with Parents Who Owe Tuition Payments

How do you deal with parents who owe you a significant amount of money but won’t communicate? I never see them, since they just drop their child off. I don’t want to embarrass my student.

When a parent or guardian of a minor child registers their dancer—whether online or in person—they should be required to accept your payment policy terms. This should include details about late charges or consequences, such as: “After 60 days, the student will not be allowed in class, unless payment arrangements have been made.”

The longer a balance is left unpaid, the harder it is to collect—especially when a student has been allowed to participate in classes past the time limit in your stated policy for accounts overdue. The parents’ unwillingness to communicate requires that you take a different course of action. If multiple phone calls and e-mails go unacknowledged, send your communication by mail—certified mail, to confirm receipt.

While refusing to allow a student into class can seem drastic, it is often what elicits a response from the parents. If parents are having financial issues, they may be embarrassed, frustrated or unsure how to approach you with this concern. In this case, you may want to discuss a payment plan option with the family.

Accepting debit/credit cards as a payment method has significantly reduced our past-due accounts. In the future, require all students to provide a backup method of payment.

Our personal connection to our students can make these types of conversations uncomfortable, but learning to run a business and hold people accountable financially is important for the future success of your studio.

Kathy Blake is the owner of Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, New Hampshire. She and Suzanne Blake Gerety are the co-founders of

Photo by B Hansen Photography, courtesy of Suzanne Blake Gerety

Don't miss a single issue of Dance Teacher.

Teacher Voices
Getty Images

In 2001, young Chanel, a determined, ambitious, fiery, headstrong teenager, was about to begin her sophomore year at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, also known as the highly acclaimed "Fame" school. I was a great student, a promising young dancer and well-liked by my teachers and my peers. On paper, everything seemed in order. In reality, this picture-perfect image was fractured. There was a crack that I've attempted to hide, cover up and bury for nearly 20 years.

Keep reading... Show less
Health & Body
Getty Images

Though the #MeToo movement has spurred many dancers to come forward with their stories of sexual harassment and abuse, the dance world has yet to have a full reckoning on the subject. Few institutions have made true cultural changes, and many alleged predators continue to work in the industry.

As Chanel DaSilva's story shows, young dancers are particularly vulnerable to abuse because of the power differential between teacher and student. We spoke with eight experts in dance, education and psychology about steps that dance schools could take to protect their students from sexual abuse.

Keep reading... Show less
Nan Melville, courtesy Genn

Not so long ago, it seemed that ballet dancers were always encouraged to pull up away from the floor. Ideas evolved, and more recently it has become common to hear teachers saying "Push down to go up," and variations on that concept.

Charla Genn, a New York City–based coach and dance rehabilitation specialist who teaches company class for Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre and Ballet Hispánico, says that this causes its own problems.

"Often when we tell dancers to go down, they physically push down, or think they have to plié more," she says. These are misconceptions that keep dancers from, among other things, jumping to their full potential.

To help dancers learn to efficiently use what she calls "Mother Marley," Genn has developed these clever techniques and teaching tools.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.