About This Policy
This policy is to create a standard for how class payments are handled so that Freeside can communicate an official stance on classes that is clear and concise.
We’ve benchmarked a few other spaces (with a specific focus on Artisan’s Asylum) to create a clear plan for organizing and hosting classes at the space. We’ve also spent about a year experimenting with different strategies for organizing, promoting and charging for classes.
This document is a result of that work, which we’ve consolidated into a plan for hosting classes that is fair and easy to understand.
How much to charge
The price of a class is set by the teacher in the form of an hourly rate. This allows us to see our classes on a level playing field. However, class fees are advertised as the total rate and not the hourly rate. Typically, classes have been hosted at Freeside at rates between $5 and $20 per hour. In general, more advanced classes require smaller class size and so higher rates are recommended. This is at the discretion of the Teacher.
Division of revenue
The Teacher receives 50% of the FULL amount charged for the class. If the class costs a student $20, the teacher receives $10. The Teacher does bear the cost of fees to transfer payments to them. So they receive $10 if paid by check or Dwolla, but a PayPal payment may have fees associated with it.
All processing and transfer fees (excluding the fees for paying the Teacher if they apply) are taken out of Freeside’s half of the class fee. These cover any advertising, administrative, promotional costs as well as the use of Freeside space and equipment where it applies.
Freeside also offers a 20% refund for members from the class fee, excluding materials fees. This is also taken out of Freeside’s half.
Registering a class
Teachers apply to teach a class by filling out the Class Registration form (after having filled out the Teacher Application form exactly once). The information in this form will be used to market and promote the classes on the various social media channels that Freeside uses.
After submitting the form, the Teacher will be contacted by a representative of Freeside (Officer, DIrector, or delegate of the Activities and Culture committee) to look over their lesson plan, discuss the details of the class relevant to scheduling and promotion, make any necessary adjustments, and then launch the class. The Director will work with the Teacher to follow the guidelines for scheduling a class to ensure the highest possible quality and attendance for the class. This process will, in general, be greatly simplified for repeats or follow-up classes.
Materials Fees and Costs
Materials can sometimes be required for a class. The estimated materials fee will be in addition to the total class fee, and paid to the party (Freeside or the Instructor) who purchases the materials, or shared as appropriate when each party provides some materials, but in addition to the Teacher’s fee. As a Best Practice, we recommend charging enough for the materials so that if only 50% of the expected seats for the class are paid for, the costs are covered. A 50% markup is reasonable and excess material should be either be redistributed for free use in the space or used in future classes.
If a materials fee is charged, students have the expectation of leaving with something. Teachers should consider this beforehand. For a 3D printing class, it is unrealistic to plan for 10 people to each get a printed part, so some should be made beforehand. Students that pay a materials fee but leave with nothing to take home have in the past had a much more negative opinion about the class, regardless of how affordable it actually was. If a materials fee is charged, students should leave with something for their fee.
However, if we need to stock materials on-site, we can plan ahead for that. People have come to Arduino classes without Arduinos. The teacher had extras and people shared, but we can plan to stock and sell these kinds of items with enough notice.
Repetition of Classes
Repeating classes and class series are important for complicated topics, but can be difficult to handle. Scheduling conflicts among attendees can result in smaller and smaller class sizes as the class progresses. We recommend offering two versions of a Level 1 class before releasing a Level 2. But this is just a recommendation.
However, we will only schedule a class series in one-month blocks. Classes cannot repeat indefinitely. Each month, we can plan the next release of classes.
Frequency of payments and refunds
Teachers will be paid for classes on the First and Third Fridays of the month. This will simplify the accounting for the classes and ensure that teachers are paid in a timely and regular manner. It will also give us some time to resolve any payment issues or discrepancies.
Members will also be issued their 20% refunds on the same days. The discount is not immediate because Meetup will not allow two tiers of payment. Members will have to pay the full price for classes and be compensated in the form of a refund on the First and Third Fridays. Members will bear whatever transfer fees apply in that payment (again, checks or Dwolla will be significantly less costly than PayPal or other costly payment processing system.
Student Refund Policy
Students are eligible for a refund if and only if:
- The class is cancelled
- The class is rescheduled
- The student cancels 3 or more days before the class is set to start.
- The teacher fails to show up for the class
- The space is unavailable for whatever reason and/or the class doesn’t happen.
Students that register but do not appear and students that drop the class less than 3 days before the event are not eligible for a refund because it is possible that their registration filled the class to capacity, materials were acquired on their behalf, or the class should have been cancelled because too few people were registered. This policy is for the benefit of the Teacher, who we feel should be fairly compensated for their time in this situation.
Summary of Policies
These policies are designed to make Classes at Freeside good for everyone:
Good for students
- Basic information and a network of help
- Reasonable pricing ($5-$20 per hour of instruction recommended + materials fees if applicable)
- Reliable and organized instruction
Good for teachers
- 50% take of all class income (fees are deducted from Freeside’s portion)
- Benefit from Freeside’s network of interested students
- Free advertising and promotion
- Administration of class is taken care of
- Space and materials are provided (classroom, projector, equipment, etc...)
Good for Freeside
- More support for more materials, space, resources
- Better skills = cooler projects for members
- Good for Freeside Members
- Freeside members get a 20% refund on class fees (taken from Freeside’s portion)