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TX : Can I get my "non-refundable" security deposit back?

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Junior Member
I live in TEXAS.

Over the past several years, we've sent our children to a private school. The school requires a security deposit equal to one month's tuition before the beginning of a given school year. That security deposit is applied to the following May's tuition for that school year. When May comes around, if you decide not to re-enroll your child for the next school year, then your already paid security deposit pays for May's tuition, and your child is dis-enrolled from school. If you decide to send your child for the next school year, then you pay May's tuition, which is considered the security deposit for the next year.

We paid for May, fully intending to send our children to the school this fall. However, adverse financial circumstances will prevent us from being able to afford a full year, so we decided not to send them. We called the school to request a refund of the security deposit, which is about $1300 for both boys. They refused, and sent us a copy of the enrollment paperwork we signed showing the deposit to be non-refundable.

I wrote a letter of appeal to the school's board of directors requesting a refund, which was also refused.

I find myself questioning whether legally they can refuse to refund the security deposit. My common sense tells me they have to incur some type of damage to be able to retain the security deposit?

I can understand if they could not fill the spots in school that there may be an issue, however, this particular school has a long waiting list, and they surely will have filled the spots long before school starts.

I'm not sure if this issue is worthwhile pursuing with an attorney, but thought maybe with some brief consultation from an attorney, and if I have a case, I could pursue it in small claims court.

Any thoughts?What is the name of your state?


Senior Member
Very simple, when the judge sees your signature on the contract that says "non refundable", your case is dismissed and you wasted even more money.


Typically penalty clauses (anything that's "nonrefundable") are disfavored in contract law. They tend to be enforced only when the payment is proportionate to the loss by the other party. If what you say is true -- the school can fill those seats at minimal cost from the waiting list -- then you might be able to argue that the $1300 is just a penalty. However, they'll argue that they have sustained actual damage from your breach.

The case is not big enough to interest an atty but you could go to small claims.


Senior Member
You have paid a pre-paid month of May tuition that you are electing not to use.

Had the school closed to been unable to provide the schooling, then I would be on your side...

However you have elected to not enroll your children, since you did so without giving notice as your describe, you are out.


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