Nonprofit Law/charging tuition


We are planning to run vocational training programs in a poor area overseas. Are we allowed to charge nominal or sliding scale fees for these classes under 501c3 laws?

Yes, just like private schools and universities are allowed to charge tuition. You can not have a purpose, though, to make surpluses from that as regular for-profit schools would.

A 501(c)(3) organization needs to serve public, not private
interests. Section 1.501(c)(3)-1(d)(1)(ii) of the regulations
provides that an organization is not organized or operated
exclusively for one or more exempt purposes unless it serves a
public rather than a private interest. To meet the requirement of
this subsection, the burden of proof is on the organization to show
that it is not organized or operated for the benefit of private
interests, such as designated individuals, the creator or his
family, shareholders of the organization, or persons controlled,
directly or indirectly, by such private interests.

Harvey Mechanic, Attorney at Law -

P.S. This response is intended to be a general statement of law, should not be relied upon as legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship.  

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Harvey Mechanic


DO NOT GIVE ME INFORMATION THAT YOU WANT KEPT CONFIDENTIAL. I am an attorney and I volunteer time to answer general questions about U.S. Federal income tax issues of nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charities only. Those questions could be about establishing and maintaining legal requirements for such non-profit organizations in the United States, including Internal Revenue service filings and requirements. I will not be working on this free forum to answer questions about Nonprofit's possible unrelated or for-profit businesses or how to fill out forms. This forum is only for general questions about federal tax law, not as the law applies to your specific situation. If you do not make your question public then I will not be spending much of my donated time on answers that would not benefit the public. If you have other questions, please contact me at I will reply from my email. In any case, do not reveal confidential information to me until after I have contracted with you to provide personal legal services. My responses on this forum are intended to be general statements of law, should not be relied upon as legal advice, and do not create an attorney/client relationship. For me to consider your individual situation and how the law applies, I would need to gather extensive information about the situation. To search my previous answers you can do a Google search by "" without the quotes and then add your search terms before hitting enter.


I have been practicing law and especially the law of nonprofit organizations since 1990 when I was admitted to the New York Bar and I have maintained my status with the Bar since that time.


B.S. Columbia University in New York City, 1970

J.D. (Law Degree) Brooklyn Law School, 1990 -- Cum Laude.

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