Contracts protect you and your clients in many ways. They keep both parties on the same page and help maintain peace of mind throughout the agreement.
Tutoring contracts, however, require more attention than traditional contracts. You may have adult students or minors in classes, but both require careful attention when drafting agreements. If your student is a minor, ensure someone represents them, such as a parent or legal guardian. With adult students, you should emphasize timely payments and legalities.
Explore the importance of having a contract and the clauses required to make a fair and foolproof agreement for any client.
What is a tutoring contract?
A tutoring contract is a legal agreement between a tutor and their client. This document specifies the scope of tutoring services and, when signed, helps both parties establish fair and realistic expectations.
Why is it important to have a contract?
Whether you're taking one-on-one classes or teaching a group of students, a contract records everyone's expectations and responsibilities in writing and is signed as an indication of mutual understanding and acknowledgment. A contract ensures:
- The exact tutoring services.
- Both parties know their responsibilities.
- Payment terms, due dates, and late fee policies.
- The agreement’s length.
A written contract is necessary to avoid erroneous assumptions, skipped payments, and ambiguous due dates.
What should a tutoring contract have?
A tutoring contract must include the following clauses to make it a reliable document for both parties. Remember, if the client is a minor, ensure a parent or legal guardian reads and signs the paperwork in the student's best interest.
Scope of services
First things first –– thoroughly outline your tutoring services to clarify expectations from both ends and avoid miscommunication and conflicts.
It's also crucial to specify the services you don't offer. For example, you aren't responsible for buying stationery or software for students. If certain subjects require particular textbooks and supplies, explicitly mention that students and parents need to purchase these.
Payment terms and conditions
Specify your services’ exact pricing, helping clients make precise and timely payments. Also, mention the payment mode. Do you accept cash, PayPal, or Venmo, or all three? Discuss your preference with clients and find a method that suits both parties.
Plus, there may be added costs you don't want to bear so specify these clearly to avoid confusion later. Examples include:
- A deposit to reserve a student's spot in a scheduled session.
- Hourly rates.
- Additional fees for study materials, such as books, stationery, or software.
- Advance payments before classes begin.
We also recommend laying out a contingency plan should a client miss a session or choose to drop out. Provide information on cancellation costs, partial or complete refunds, and so on.
Clients expect you to take on some level of accountability during the tutoring agreement. While this is fair, a tutoring contract helps minimize risk by clearly stating how you plan to limit your liability.
For example, tell a client while you or your tutoring agency tries to help them prepare for tests, you can’t be held accountable for the student’s performance. In such a situation, clients can't cross-question you if they don't get the desired outcome. These events are beyond your control and must be acknowledged accordingly.
This clause is important for both self-employed tutors and those working in tutoring agencies. An agency, like any business, is subject to various laws and regulations. And as a tutor, you’ll likely regularly teach minors so it's necessary to consider the responsibilities and duties that protect both parties.
Include these clauses to safeguard minors under your supervision:
- Conduct lessons in the house’s open or public area, such as a living room.
- Don't conduct lessons in bedrooms.
- There needs to be an adult present in person, even during private tutoring sessions.
- The adult responsible must sign a document on the student’s behalf to confirm your presence and fair services after each lesson.
If you own a tutoring agency, ensure the company follows appropriate hiring practices. Each employee must undergo screenings –– such as background checks, social security verifications, and previous employment history –– to confirm identity, proof of education, and job profile.
Additionally, you must detail how you intend to uphold your agency's ethical duties and moral obligations. A reputable tutoring agency and its employees adhere to a code of conduct between the tutor and student that calls for the following actions:
- Offering students resources to achieve the best possible education.
- Teaching techniques to help them improve in specific subject matters.
- Creating an environment to build self-esteem, confidence, and an eagerness to learn.
Linking your legal obligations with the liability clause is essential to limit your responsibility. Strike a balance between what you promise and what you offer so expectations and results stay realistic and attainable.
This is a must-have clause. Ideally, we all hope for smooth sailing during tutor-client projects, but either party might want to end the agreement prematurely if things don't work out.
In such a scenario, include a termination clause that allows both parties to end the agreement amicably. Include specific terms and conditions, such as the ramifications of suddenly discontinuing services and whether the client is responsible for any outstanding fees. We recommend adding kill fees (the amount for tutoring services already provided before termination).
Additionally, include a sub-clause stating students must provide written notice if they want to terminate the contract early, preferably a week or month in advance. You should also specify whether students who already paid for sessions in advance qualify for refunds.
Tutoring contracts are clear and transparent documents that set realistic expectations for both parties. They're worth your time and effort, as they save you from potentially challenging situations. Drafting contracts may seem tedious, but they establish basic guidelines from the start and create a solid foundation for a tutor–client relationship. Here are a few key takeaways:
- Explicitly specify your services.
- Track fee payments, and have contingency plans if students are absent or decide to terminate the agreement early.
- Limit your liability.
- Beware of your –– or your agency’s –– legal obligations.
- Follow a code of conduct to uphold moral and ethical responsibilities.
- Include a clause that protects you from premature termination.
- Give clients time to read and accept the contract’s terms and conditions before signing.
Stay on top of your tutoring business with Practice
Remember these takeaways and watch client relationships blossom and your business expand. Leverage a customer relationship management (CRM) tool made for tutors and manage client data reliably and safely.
Practice’s Customer Management Software allows you to manage client data, contracts, and files –– all in one place. We also offer editable agreement forms and sample tutoring contract templates to help draft documents, receive feedback, and track progress. Let our software do the heavy lifting and take your business to the next level. Try it today.