School Finance 514: Re-enrollment for 2016-17

For most independent schools, a clear and efficient re-enrollment process is crucial to financial stability, staff recruitment, and program consistency. SAS is currently conducting its annual re-enrollment exercise, with March 1, 2016 being the deadline to submit a re-enrollment form and fee for each returning student. For families new to this process or anyone with questions about it, we take this opportunity to provide more information about the background and details of our re-enrollment process. To access the SAS re-enrollment page, please click here.

Like US private schools, international schools typically require some sort of documentation and monetary commitment by parents whose children will be returning for the next school year. A timely and accurate projection of the number of returning students gives a school many advantages. Firstly, the admissions office can admit new students promptly, which encourages strong applicants to commit to the school and allows new families to complete their planning. Administrators are also able to forecast staffing needs with confidence, which is especially important for hiring new teachers. Finally, program needs and facilities schedules can be predicted, and classroom materials accurately ordered.

For parents, completing the re-enrollment process guarantees their children spots at the school. It also helps the school avoid fluctuations in enrollment numbers, which would be detrimental for all students. Last year we streamlined and codified the SAS re-enrollment process to avoid confusion and make it fair for all families, and we have been very pleased with the community's response. Separately, the Singapore government requires a student contract for each international school student, which is due later in March. The adoption of paperless student contracts last year was another positive step, saving an estimated 25,000 sheets of paper and proving much easier for parents and staff to manage.

Some parents wonder why SAS charges a fee for re-enrollment; couldn't parents simply notify the school that their children will attend? Like most independent schools, SAS has found that a monetary commitment gives us a truer estimate of returning students, which is the ultimate goal of re-enrollment. If at all possible, parents do not want to pay for a spot they have no intention of filling, so this eliminates false re-enrollments. As well, those who are undecided do their best to weigh the cost of re-enrollment vs the likelihood of a move. While sometimes unavoidable, a fee can also prevent families from committing to several schools at once. Typically, international schools require a tuition deposit, a re-enrollment or registration fee, or full payment of the upcoming term's fees.

In Singapore, tuition deposits are not allowed, so international schools either require payment of tuition fees up to six months in advance, or a fee similar to ours. We feel that our system serves our needs appropriately without being unduly burdensome. The fee is included in our average total cost of attendance, which we benchmark against other international schools' average total costs. To see these comparisons, please refer to our previous article, School Finance 512: 2016-17 Budget.

Returning families should send in a re-enrollment form and $2,500 fee for each student by March 1, 2016. If you wish to do this in person, please visit the finance office during school hours or during the International Fair on Saturday, February 27, 2016. Families who are unsure of their plans have two options. They may choose to re-enroll and pay by the March 1 deadline; if their plans change and they notify the school by March 14, the entire re-enrollment fee will be reimbursed. If they elect to wait beyond March 1 for their plans to be finalized, they will pay a higher fee of $3,000 per student, and will no longer have guaranteed places. If a student's spot has already been filled by a new applicant, the student will be placed in a queue of returning students. The later a student is re-enrolled, the less likely it is that his or her place will still be available.

An efficient re-enrollment process is an important component of the school's financial stability and the overall success of the school. We thank you for deciding to re-enroll your children at SAS, and for completing the necessary steps. As always, we welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions for future articles, at wscarborough@sas.edu.sg. We look forward to hearing from you.

Summary of re-enrollment dates, fees, and terms

Date re-enrollment process completed

Re-enrollment fee

Student's 2016-17 status

Re-enrollment fee refund policy

By March 1, 2016

$2,500 SGD

Student's place guaranteed

Fee fully refundable until March 14, 2016

By March 14, 2016

$3,000 SGD

Student's place not guaranteed

Fee fully refundable until March 14, 2016

After March 14, 2016

$3,000 SGD

Student's place not guaranteed

No refund of fee