After much deliberation, I recently decided I would no longer charge testing fees at my school.
Why? I’ve seen way too much abuse of this practice in other schools, and decided to implement a “no testing fee” policy as just one more thing that sets our school apart from other schools.
However, my students will still be responsible for paying the retail cost of their belt at the time they are promoted (about $7).
Should It Even Be Part Of Your Income?
Now, I know that martial arts belt testing fees are a considerable source of income for many martial arts schools. But you have to ask yourself what kind of message it sends your students when you’re basing a good deal of your budgeting on income that comes from bumping them in rank.
I think it’s pretty obvious… there’s a subtle message there that says, “If you pay me, you’ll get your belt.”
Maybe you started it because you needed the extra money, maybe everyone else in your organization does it so you feel obligated to toe the line… or maybe you’re the type of school owner that runs a belt factory where you attract students by charging half of what the other schools do, then hit your students up for sky-high belt fees every couple of months or so to make up the difference.
A Revolutionary Concept?
Now, I know that many of you out there are very attached to those “promotion and testing” fees… Well, here’s a thought; why not just charge enough to cover your expenses and salary in the first place?
Whatever the case may be, I think you are doing yourself and your students a major disservice by continuing to charge promotion fees. It cheapens the relationship between the student and instructor, it invites in all sorts of temptation (like scheduling a belt grading everytime you’re short on money), and it degrades the value of the rank you award.
You may disagree with me, but personally I like how it feels to test a student when we both know that the only thing influencing my decision is their performance on their exam.