Voluntary contribution to school costs: what about that?
Almost all schools pass it on to the students or their parents: a contribution towards additional school costs. But what about that exactly? What costs are paid from the government grant that the schools receive? And what costs are the schools allowed to pass on to parents in the form of a contribution towards additional school costs? And may schools oblige parents to pay this “voluntary” contribution?
The government grant
Schools receive a government grant for teaching materials from the government. Courses that have higher training costs because they use more material or ingredients in the curriculum, also receive a higher government grant. Hence, schools are not allowed to charge students with ingredients and materials that are processed during the vocational training.
Extra contribution towards school costs
Schools can make agreements with students and parents about the payment of an extra contribution to the school costs. These agreements are then, in most cases, recorded in an agreement such as a parent contract. The school must be transparent in these agreements and clearly inform parents about the destination of the requested extra contribution. In addition, the school may not unilaterally oblige this contribution. If parents refuse to pay the extra contribution, the student is still entitled to access and education at the school. In other words, schools are only allowed to request a voluntary (non-legal) contribution from their students.
What is the extra contribution used for?
The school may decide for itself how they want to use the extra contribution. Usually this money is intended for extra facilities and activities, such as non-compulsory excursions or the use of a safe. The school must then clearly specify how the extra contribution will be spent. The student and / or his / her parents may then decide for themselves whether to use these facilities and activities. It must also be possible to choose to pay only for specific activities or facilities. Only if written permission has been given and signed for the additional contribution, payment may be claimed. The school must also clearly communicate that the requested contribution is not compulsory.
What if the contribution is not paid?
Even if the additional contribution has been signed and the payment obligation is not met, the student cannot be denied access to the school and / or the curriculum. The school then has other means at its disposal to still induce compliance with the agreement, with the ultimate means of calling in a collection agency or bailiff.
Registration for a study program may not depend on contributions other than the compulsory tuition or course fees. As soon as the tuition or course fees have been paid after registration, the student is entitled to the use of education and examination facilities.
Incorrect use of the extra contribution
Sometimes schools wrongly ask for a voluntary contribution to certain costs, because the school would have to bear these costs entirely itself. A common example of this is asking for an extra contribution for ICT costs in connection with the purchase of software licenses and computers or laptops. As long as the licenses and hardware are wholly owned by the school and used by the student only as part of the established curriculum, the school itself should pay these costs in full. This example can also be applied to other situations, such as passing on the purchase of materials or ingredients, which is only used in the established curriculum.
As previously stated, schools receive a government grant for the teaching materials and this may not be passed on to students by means of an additional contribution. What must be paid by the student are books and resources specifically necessary for the vocational training, such as tools or work clothes, which become the property of the student. The school may impose requirements on certain necessary teaching materials, but cannot require the student to purchase these teaching materials from the school.
Supervision and litigation
The Education Inspectorate supervises compliance with legal rules. If a dispute nevertheless arises with the school about the non-statutory contribution that is requested, this can be raised through, among other things, the participation council of the school or through civil proceedings.
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