We have been hearing a lot of talk lately about the merits of automatically enrolling families into the next school year, which certainly seems like a great time-saving idea on the surface. If the software or service your school is utilizing for billing or enrollment is not or cannot be used to gather essential year-over-year information, then perpetual enrollment can make sense.
- Families automatically receive bills for the next school year
- Billing-related school staff workload decreased
However, upon cursory examination of the process, it is clear that the negative aspects of perpetual enrollment outweigh the benefits while using a competent system such as TADS:
- Families are not given the opportunity to update emergency contact information, indemnification, legal releases or other crucial information year-to-year
- Any updated or new policies must be captured outside of the enrollment system, causing school administrators to revert back to a paper process to get signatures or other agreements — paper is of course messy for so many reasons
- Families and students do not have the opportunity to easily sign up and pay for extracurricular activities
- Families may assume they are enrolled, when in fact their status may be different due to delinquent payment, academic hold or any other reason
- Payment information may change year-over-year and this will have to be captured as an extra process
In short, if your school is using a simple process to collect tuition that does not have real integrated enrollment capabilities, it may make sense to implement perpetual enrollment. If, however, you are using TADS Enrollment or another fully-featured process that makes re-enrollment painless while still keeping your family information and other crucial data up to date, implementing this process will cause your school administrators extra work and re-introduce the likelihood human error during the inevitable data collection process.
In a November 11, 2015 article on NBOA’s website, education attorney Judith Islas is quoted as saying about perpetual enrollment: “It’s an interesting concept along the lines of moving away from annual agreements for teachers. There are certainly benefits, such as reducing the paperwork that is already overwhelming some families. There are also cons, including that certain terms, such as tuition and fees, typically change every year—and schools may wish to make other changes to the enrollment contract (such as adding an arbitration clause or updating to address new practices or added or amended legal requirements). If this concept is adopted, schools should ensure parents agree the school can make changes annually. While we think there are potential benefits, each school will need to consider the pros and cons.”
All of this being said, if your school wants to explore perpetual enrollment, TADS would love to talk with you to discuss the options available to you!