The following Policy Guideline is designed to replace Informational Policy Memorandum (IPM) 54, issued April 16, 1993.
Section 5005 of the Education Law states in part, the school shall disseminate to all prospective and enrolled students through an enrollment contract or agreement…and in appropriate languages as required by the Commissioner in regulation: (a) information concerning the school, including but not limited to: (3) a schedule of tuition payments, fees and all other charges and expenses necessary for completion of the course or program.
Section 126.2(b) of the Commissioner's Regulations states "A school shall provide the same instruction, tools, equipment or instructional supplies, and charge the same tuition rates and other fees or charges, to all students or groups of students in like circumstances, unless otherwise approved by the commissioner." The intent of this regulation, among other things, is to prevent schools from bargaining with students over a particular tuition price; to prevent a school from basing its tuition fee solely on the amount of money the individual is eligible to receive in aid; and so that no individual may suffer discrimination.
Section 126.7(a) of the Commissioner's Regulations states, "All conditions for enrollment in or completion of a curriculum or course shall be set forth in an enrollment agreement which shall be fully completed, dated and signed by both an authorized agent of the school and the student prior to the time instruction begins."
There are various situations when a student may be enrolled by a school and receive a discount in tuition. As long as the school's proposed exemption to the general rule does not undermine the intent of Section 126.2(b) or 126.7(a) of the Commissioner's Regulations, the Bureau of Proprietary School Supervision (BPSS) may approve a tuition discount on a case-by-case basis. It is the responsibility of BPSS to determine that the discount or reduced tuition has a rational basis. Some of the factors to be considered include the following:
- For the period of time when the tuition discount is in effect, all students with the same start date shall be eligible for this tuition discount.
- When a school contracts with an outside entity to offer the program to a group of individuals, this may be an acceptable reason to offer a discount in tuition if the school can justify the lower cost.
- If the contract agency is ACCES-VR, federal regulations contain a provision which states that handicapped individuals must be treated similar to any other individual as far as a price. In this regard, it is not allowable for any school to charge more tuition for ACCES-VR funded individuals. However, if the school requests approval to charge less money to an ACCES-VR funded student, such a request may be approved.
- We recognize that, in contract situations, the administrative overhead may be less for the school (no recruiting, advertising) and a reduced tuition rate may make sense. It is imperative that the school submit an enrollment agreement for the reduced rate. In such cases, the students may be co-mingled with regular non-ACCES-VR funded individuals if the school's Education Team Liaison approves the school's proposal.
- Schools may offer a reduced tuition rate to students during slow time periods or for class schedules which are less popular. In such cases, all students enrolled in that class must be charged the same rate and may not be co-mingled with students enrolled at different rates with the following exceptions:
- A student making up a course who was enrolled at a different tuition cost.
- A student returning from a leave of absence.
- A student enrolled in a non-sequential instructional program when it is educationally appropriate to co-mingle students with different enrollment dates.
- A student enrolled in a program of individualized instruction.
The offering by a school of a discount involving a coupon, discount password, or other method, such as Groupon or another discounting service, to advertise courses or curricula must comply with Commissioner’s regulation 126.2(b), which states that "A school shall provide the same instruction, tools, equipment or instructional supplies, and charge the same tuition rates and other fees or charges, to all students or groups of students in like circumstances, unless otherwise approved by the commissioner."
This means that use of a discounting service is permissible provided that any discounts are made available to all students in a given course or curriculum, regardless of whether a student used a discounting service to pay tuition.
However, if such a discounting service is used, tuition charged through the use of the service must correspond to the school’s current, approved enrollment agreement. If tuition set forth in the enrollment agreement deviates from that charged to a student paying tuition through a discount service, the enrollment agreement must be amended to reflect the tuition available through the discount service.
Any questions on tuition discounts should be addressed to BPSS.