Ahmedabad, With schools about to enter the last quarter of academic year, one issue troubling parents and schools is about fees as the Fee Regulatory Committee (FRC)-Schools has yet not declared a pro- visional or final fee structure although applications have been pending for approval from year 2020-21.

As per details provided by the DEO City, from a total of 235 applications seeking fee hikes from 2020-21 and 2021-22 only 94 schools have received provisional or final fee approval from FRC. As for DEO Rural, of 94 schools which applied for fee hike, 22 schools got provisional or final fee hike nod, said officials.

The delay in declaring the fee structure has been bothering parents who have been asked to pay fees with the proposed higher fee as per schools’ applications. Lack of an accurate fee hike structure has led to parents demanding refunds of excess fees paid in 2020-21 and afterwards.

Many schools in Ahmedabad are gearing up to finalise new admissions for batch starting in 2022. For current batches, the schools have already started collecting fees for the last quarter based on the post- dated cheques parents submitted to schools.

Earlier, a March 2021 deadline was set for schools to submit the proposed hike in fees, which was extended to May 2021 in wake of the second wave of COVID19. The government then declared a 25% fee cut in wake of the extended lockdown and financial instability it brought.

And even after submission of the proposed fee structure for this academic year within the deadline, the FRC has not yet come out with the sanctioned fee structure for self-financed schools. Many schools that wanted a hike in fee in 2021- 22 year again submitted the proposal with increased fee in 2021, they said.

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Parents have been seek- ing a proper idea of fees from schools so as not to pay more than the necessary amount. One parent said, technically, the school has collected fees for all quarters from us, technically. They have collected proposed or provisional fees stating they are waiting for the FRC’s final nod. Parents have written to the state education department multiple times but there has been no response. This year, the education department has not even announced any relief for parents in terms of fee cut.

Prahar Anjaria, secretary of Association of Progressive Schools (AOPS) said this is a usual dilemma for school managements every year. There should be a process worked out where schools that want a fee hike between 7% and 10% do not have to apply to FRC. Those wishing to increase fees by a larger margin may have to put up a proposal. This will at least save some schools from the usual delay in final fee approval and also a faster process for the rest of the schools. We have also discussed this proposal with the education department, he said.

Manan Choksi, executive director of Udgam School for Children, said the school has a history of refunding excess fees to parents when the approved fee structure reaches them. Sometimes, lack of clarity in the fee structure also results in disputes with parents. However, we collect fees based on provisional fees we have demanded and refund excess fees in case of a change in the approved structure.

We have made multiple representations to the authorities concerned to work out a solution in the matter. We hope to get a solution soon, he said.

Kamal Mangal, trustee of Anand Niketan group of schools, said it is also time to up the limit of the minimum fee amount that needs FRC approval. Currently, the limit for schools that do not have to go to FRC for approval is Rs 15,000 a year for the last five years. This has to be increased keeping in mind inflationary pressure.

Asked if the education department has any plans to streamline FRC approval of the long pending fees, cabinet minister Jitu Vaghani said he will talk about this later.

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