Frequently Asked Questions

Quick Answers to Common Questions


How do I register?

Signing up for classes and lessons with Merit is easy!

Group Classes

  1. Optional step: Apply for financial aid (Financial aid applications and pre-registration must be submitted before registering for any classes or lessons. Read more.)
  2. Browse our programs online
  3. Select your course
  4. Complete your registration
  5. Optional step: Rent an instrument

Private Lessons

  1. Optional step: Apply for financial aid (Financial aid applications and pre-registration must be submitted before registering for any classes or lessons. Read more.)
  2. Submit an inquiry form
  3. A program manager will contact you to match you with a teacher
  4. Confirm your enrollment
  5. Optional step: Rent an instrument

Returning students: Learn how to renew your private lesson package for the next semester.

I forgot my registration login info.

Reset your password.

If you’ve forgotten which email address you used to register your account, email us at for help.

Is there a registration fee?

Yes, there is a non-refundable registration fee of $30 per student for each Academic Year that must be paid in full at the time of enrollment. The registration fee for Spring Session is $20 and Summer Session is $15.

The Alice S. Pfaelzer Conservatory registration fee is $200. Conservatory registration fees may be eligible for payment plans. However, we are not able to prorate these fees for early withdrawals.

If Merit cancels a program or class, your registration fee will be refunded in full.

Do you offer financial aid?

We’re dedicated to providing access to music education through the award of financial aid to eligible families. Aid is based on a sliding scale of up to 75% of tuition.

Please note that while Merit desires to provide as much aid as possible, it is a limited resource and is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

To learn more and apply for financial aid, visit our Student & Parent Resources page

How do I rent an instrument?

Merit students have the option to rent high-quality and low-cost instruments through our Music & Instrument Library.

Click to learn more and fill out a rental application. → 


How do I pay?

Click to make an online payment now!

Payments are accepted by check, money order, credit card (MasterCard, Visa, Discover, and American Express), or cash. Credit card payments may be made online or over the phone. Cash payments must be made in person.

Automatic credit card deductions can be made to your account monthly by setting up a payment plan.

When are payments due?

Registration fees are due in full at the time of registration. Tuition is due prior to the start of the program. Payment plans are available and must be set up at the time of registration.

For private lessons, you must pay the registration fee before lessons can begin. Failure to pay within the billing schedule may result in program interruption.

All registrations (group classes, private lessons, or Early Childhood classes) made after the registration deadline will incur a $15 late fee in addition to the base registration fee.

Do you offer payment plans and auto-payments?

Yes! We’re happy to offer payment plans and auto-payments for music classes and lessons.

At checkout during your online registration, you’ll have the option to select an installment plan to break up your tuition payments. If you choose to pay via a payment plan, you’ll be required to add a credit card to your account. This card will be automatically charged on the selected payment schedule. If you want to adjust the payment schedule, simply get in contact with Student Services and we can put you on a schedule that works better for you.

Families are responsible for all installments of their payment plans—even if students withdraw from programming early. We are not able to prorate tuition fees for early withdrawals. Non-payment of payment plan fees could result in additional requests for payments, suspension of services, and referral of accounts to a collection agency.

Need help? Contact us at

Attendance Policies

How do I report an absence?

Make sure to let your teacher know you won’t be in class by filling out the absence form that pertains to your program.

Please keep in contact with your program manager if you have questions or concerns.

Group Classes

  • Attendance is expected at all group classes. We are unable to schedule make-up classes or provide credits for missed classes.
  • Students are allowed up to three absences per semester and can be taken for any reason. Please let us know when your child will be absent by filling out our absence form.
  • If your student is marked “tardy” to class three times, it will be considered the equivalent of one absent day and will count against your three day allowance.
  • If your student will be performing in a concert, attendance is mandatory for the dress rehearsal and the concert. Students are also required to attend the first day of a new semester. Absences are not allowed on any of these mandatory attendance days.
  • Merit may dismiss any student from group classes who has three consecutive absences without notification; who has exceeded their absence allotment; who is consistently tardy; or who fails to adhere to their payment schedule.

Private Lessons

  • Students are expected to be present and on time for all private lessons. There are no excused absences for private lessons.
  • As a courtesy, if a student is unable to attend a scheduled lesson, please contact your instructor directly at least 24 hours in advance.
  • If the instructor cancels the lesson or is late, the teacher is responsible for making up that lesson time.
  • We are unable to provide refunds, credits, or make-ups for any lessons missed by students.
  • Merit may dismiss any student from private lessons with three consecutive absences without notification; who has a pattern of absences; who is consistently tardy; or who fails to adhere to their payment schedule

Early Childhood

Missed Classes

  • Need to miss a class? Please email Ms. Frances as far in advance as possible to let her know the date of your absence and to schedule a make-up class.
  • Any student who misses three consecutive classes without alerting the Early Childhood program administration may be removed from the class roster.

Make-up Classes

  • A total of three make-up classes per semester are permitted so that students can bond and the class culture can grow.
  • In order to prevent over-booking any singular class, please do not attend a make-up class without first contacting the Early Childhood program manager.
  • All make-up classes must be completed by the last week of the semester.

Music Masters 2 Families

  • In order to stay current with the curriculum from week to week, please plan your make-up classes to take place within the same week as the class you intend to miss.


  • Students are expected to be present and on time at all Conservatory activities.
  • If needed, students may take up to four absences per year. In the case of planned absences, you must fill out an absence form at least one week in advance.
  • If your child has an emergency and must be absent unexpectedly, please call or email your program manager or director to inform us as soon as possible. You will still be asked to fill out an absence form for documentation.
  • An absence from any Conservatory class counts as one full day of absence.
  • If a student is marked tardy to a class on three separate occasions, that will result in one full absence on their attendance record.
  • A student may not be absent on a mandatory attendance day (noted in the Conservatory calendar).
  • Students who do not meet the attendance requirements of the program may be asked to leave the Conservatory. This may affect their financial aid award eligibility in Merit’s Private Lesson Program.

Making Changes to Classes & Lessons

How do I change my class or lesson schedule?

Group Classes

We encourage all families to register early for your recommended group class to secure your spot and then contact the program manager or director to inquire about schedule changes.

Your program director can help determine if there’s availability during another class time that works better for your schedule or if your child should be placed in a different class due to skill level.

Private Lessons

When registering for Merit’s private lessons, keep in mind that enrollments span the full academic year: fall and spring semesters. If needed, day, time, and length changes can be made to your private lesson package at any time.

If you wish to change the length of your lesson, you must submit this request in writing to the Student Services Department.

Lessons can only be cancelled during the drop/add window between semesters.

How do I withdraw from classes or lessons?

Group Classes

All requests for withdrawal must be received by your respective program manager or director, in writing, before being considered withdrawn. Verbal requests to withdraw do not fulfill this requirement. Notifying the teacher does not constitute notice of withdrawal.

The effective date of withdrawal is the date that the written notice is received, not the last date of the class or private lesson attended.

Students receiving financial aid or scholarship forfeit their award upon withdrawal.

Read about our refund policies under the “What is your refund policy?” FAQ.

Private Lessons

Students who wish to withdraw from lessons must notify both their private teacher and the private lesson coordinator in writing.

Merit has limited cancellation windows for private lessons. Enrollment is binding for the semester once the term begins. You can choose to discontinue private lessons during the drop/add window between semesters.

Read about our refund policies under the “What is your refund policy?” FAQ.

What is your refund policy?

Group Classes & Summer Camps/Workshops

  • Students withdrawing more than two days before the first class/lesson will receive a full tuition refund, minus the registration fee.
  • A pro-rated refund will be given to withdrawing students who have taken up to three classes.
  • If a student has taken four classes, a tuition refund of 50% will be given.
  • If a student has taken five classes or more, no refund will be given.
  • Students registering for classes that are six weeks or less in program duration are not eligible for a refund after the start date.
  • Students withdrawing from payment plans are still subject to the above refund policies.
  • Registration fees are non-refundable.
  • Please allow three to four weeks for the processing of refunds.

Private Lessons

  • Attendance is expected at all scheduled lessons.
  • We are unable to provide refunds, credits, or make-ups for any lessons missed by students.
  • If your teacher cancels a lesson, they will work with you to reschedule the lesson.

Early Childhood

  • Families withdrawing more than two days before the first scheduled class are eligible for a full credit or refund, minus an administrative fee of $45.
  • Families who withdraw within the first three weeks of their scheduled class date/time are eligible for a prorated credit to their account. Full refunds are not available after the start of the semester.
  • Credits will not be issued past the third week of the semester.


While this is unusual, group classes, Early Childhood classes, and summer camps/workshops may be canceled due to insufficient enrollment. If this occurs, the school will make every effort to reschedule the student for another class at a convenient time. If this is not possible, you will receive a full refund including both tuition and registration fees.


What is your COVID-19 policy?

At Merit, your health and safety are our priority.

While masks and proof of vaccination are no longer required, we’re committed to continuing to keep our building safe and clean.

Our upgraded HVAC system increases air circulation throughout the building and introduces more fresh outdoor air. In addition, hand sanitizing stations are offered throughout our music center.

Please note: Merit’s COVID safety team will continue to monitor conditions and could make the decision to return to more conservative COVID mitigation measures if and when deemed necessary.

How will I know if my class is cancelled due to inclement weather or emergency situations?

The safety of students, faculty, and all visitors to the Joy Faith Knapp Music Center is of the utmost importance to the Merit School of Music.

In cases of inclement weather or emergency situations, Merit will actively monitor the situation and keep you up-to-date on the status of classes via the email on your Merit account. In urgent situations, we may also text or call the phone number on file.

You can also check or for updates at any time.

Please always use your discretion if you personally believe your commute to be unsafe and report any absences to your teacher and/or program manager/director as soon as possible by filling out an absence form.

In order to ensure we can get in contact with you in emergency situations, always make sure your contact information is up-to-date on your Merit account.


How do I report a concern or issue?

Do you have another concern or issue not described above? We are here to listen!

Fill out the below form, select the “Reporting a concern or issue” option, and leave details in the comment box. We will have the appropriate staff member get back to you promptly.

How do I make a donation?

Supporting Merit students is easy! Click here to make a donation online. For more information, please reach out to or call 312-267-4487.

To mail a donation, please address to:

Merit School of Music
Attn: Development Department
38 S Peoria St
Chicago, IL 60607

Please make checks payable to Merit School of Music. 

Still Have Questions? Or Need Help?