Is it legal for a school to pick and choose which parts of their student contract they’re going to uphold?

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Is it legal for a school to pick and choose which parts of their student contract they’re going to uphold?

In my cosmetology school contract it said that I would make monthly payments over a 10 month period. Any late payments would be assessed a $20 fee and if it remained unpaid I’d be suspended until a payment was made. My payments were late/not paid but my school never assessed any fees on my account and never told me I was in jeopardy of being suspended. Now I’m a month and a half from graduating and it’s “oops we forgot to charge you” and they’re trying to make me pay all these late fees. I assumed that since I hadn’t received suspension for non payment they weren’t charging me $20 per month either.

Asked on April 19, 2012 under Business Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Yes, it is legal in the following sense: a failure of one party to a contract to promptly enforce its rights under a contract does not waive enforcement of those rights or preclude the party from taking action to enforce them at a later date. If the contract said that you would be liable for a $20 fee per late payment, the school can hold you liable for that money, even if it did not request payment earlier, and even if it did not enforce other non-payment provisions, such as suspension.


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