Sliding scale Language
from Worts & Cunning:
For a small business like our family’s, I do not receive any outside funding to supplement sliding scale discounts, so I must take into account what I am able to offer and still be able to support my family.
For a sliding scale to work it relies on the principles of truthfulness, respect for complexity, and accountability. I do not ask for income verification. I trust you to be honest. Community thrives when accountability is a central value, because that is where trust grows and depth work can be done. Teachers deserve to get paid and students deserve classes which recognize the multiple realities of economic access and privilege that exist.
Recently, someone shared with me the idea of sacrifice versus hardship when examining access. If paying for a class, product, or service would be difficult, but not detrimental, it qualifies as a sacrifice. You might have to cut back on other spending in your life (such as going out to dinner, buying coffee, or a new outfit), but this will not have a long term harmful impact on your life. It is a sacred sacrifice in order to pursue something you are called to do.
If, however, paying for a class, product, or service would lead to a harmful impact on your life, such as not being able to put food on the table, pay rent, or pay for your transportation to get to work, then you are dealing with hardship. Folks coming from a space of hardship typically qualify for the lower end of the sliding scale. I find the idea of sacrifice versus hardship to be a very useful nuance when talking about class and access because it recognizes and respects that paying for something might still be a challenge even if it is just a short-term one, while giving appropriate space for those who are dealing with financial hardship.
Here is a general guideline about how I currently price my sliding scale and to help you determine where you fall on it.
The highest dollar cost reflects the true cost of the class or service. It is the cost that the practitioner would charge all students in the absence of a sliding scale. If you have access to financial security, own property or have personal savings, you would not traditionally qualify for sliding scale services. If you are able to pay for "wants" and spend little time worried about securing necessities in your life, you have economic privilege and power in our community. This price is for you.
The middle cost reflects the practitioner's acknowledgement that paying the full cost would prevent some folks from being able to attend, but who do not honestly find themselves reflected in either descriptions for the highest cost or the lowest. If you are struggling to conquer debt or build savings or move away from paycheck to paycheck living but have access to steady income and are not spending most of your time thinking about meeting basic needs such as food, shelter, medical care, child care, etc., you belong here. If you, however, can ask others for financial support, such as family members, partners, or friends, please consider using those personal resources before you use the resources of the sliding scale and limit opportunities for others.
The bottom cost represents an honest acknowledgment by the teacher and practitioner that there are folks whose economic circumstances would prevent them from being a part of classes if there was not be a deliberate opportunity made for them to access services at a cost that is reflective of their economic realities. If you struggle to maintain access to needs such as health care, housing, food, child care, and are living paycheck to paycheck or are in significant debt, you belong probably belong here and you deserve a community that honors your price as equal an economic offering as the person who can pay the highest tier. Even when the lower tier is still prohibitive, I will work with folks to offer extended payment plans and other solutions so long as it meets my family's needs, please email me if this is you.
Please be mindful that if you purchase a price at the lowest end of the scale when you can truthfully afford the higher ticket prices, you are limiting access to those who truly need the gift of financial flexibility.
Being honest with yourself and your financial situation when engaging with sliding scale practices grows strong and sustainable communities. It also respects the work of teachers and creators, like myself, that have families to support and rent to pay. Additionally, when I am paid fairly, I am able to invest more time and resources to free and lower cost offerings.
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Doors Close Friday, September 30, 2022 at midnight