Best Practices For Reducing Your Continuing Education Course Cancellation Rate

Many continuing education programs are experiencing a growing cancellation rate for open enrollment classes. This increase in cancellations is reducing revenue and impacting customer satisfaction.

According to LERN, the ideal overall cancellation rate is 15%. But many programs are reporting cancellation rates between 20-30% with the most challenged programs over 30%. While the cancellation rate for new classes is normally 30-50%, the cancellation rate for repeat classes should be 14% or less giving you an overall cancellation rate of 15%.


The following are best practice strategies for reducing your cancellation rate –

  1. Cut the dogs! There are classes you know are going to be cancelled and they should not be offered. If a class cancels twice it should be cut or at least redesigned.
  2. Price your classes to run for 5 or less students. Your go/no-go number should be determined by dividing your production costs by the price of the class. By managing costs and pricing appropriately, 80%+ of your classes should be able to run for 5 people or less.
  3. Separate out material fees. When finalizing the price if there is a higher cost materials fee, it might be better to separate out the materials fee so the overall price does not seem too high, since your customers would not know the cost of the materials. Better to price at $95 plus $50 for materials, then $145 and customer not knowing $50 is for materials.
  4. Cancel as close to class start date as possible. People are registering later and later so you should be waiting at least until two days before the start of the class to decide if the class will run or cancel.
  5. Be customer managers. Listen to your customers and give them what they want, when they want it, how they want it delivered, and so on.

If you do need to cancel classes, you want to cancel the fewest number of people possible. Ideally you want to be able to transfer them into a new class (even if they are not required to pay the difference) or give them a credit or voucher in your software system so they can use the credit/voucher in the future. Once you give back money, the chance of their returning decreases dramatically.

For open enrollment programming monitoring cancellation rate is important. If you can reduce your cancellation rate by 5% you will see a bottom-line and customer satisfaction improvement.