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University financial offices face mounting challenges when it comes to payments. Receiving tuition payments is a complicated web that includes various entities: students, parents, private and government-sponsored loans, grants, and financial aid. 

What’s more, universities are subject to unique payment cycles where funds are received by semester or quarter (and off-cycle). The pandemic spotlighted many of these nuanced payment obstacles, especially when it came to tuition payments for international students.  Some data suggests that most (80%) of financial leaders at four-year institutions report challenges with receiving payments from foreign student loan programs. 

There are solutions. Automating and streamlining tuition payments can have significant, positive impacts on institutions’ bottom lines. Additionally, automation can reduce fraud, improve efficiencies, and prevent late payments. Overall, it contributes to a much better student experience. 

This article explores some of the benefits of tuition payments automation as well as tips for taking the next steps. 

Benefits of Automating Tuition Payments

There are numerous benefits to tuition payments automation: 

Improved Efficiency – Automation makes the entire accounts receivable process faster, more accurate, and more efficient. E-invoicing with digital templates can streamline workflows and help simplify more complex billing requirements. 

Less Human Error – Manual processes like invoicing can introduce unnecessary human error into the payments process. More than that, it’s tedious work that steals away employee time from more strategic, value-added work. Automation can significantly reduce human error, enabling smart form fills to ensure customer data is correct. 

Better Reporting & Forecasting – With automation, institutions can tap into more accurate, up-to-date AR data. Not only does this enable better high-level reporting and decision-making, it can improve cash flow. It also enables better cash flow forecasting thanks to more reliable processes and cash collection. 

Cost Savings – Automation enables staff to be more productive, reducing the time needed for manual tasks. In some cases, automation may allow for a reduced team size. Automating tuition payments also results in fewer cases of uncollectible accounts, helping to reduce bad debt. 

Taking Steps Toward Tuition Payments Automation

Once you understand the benefits of automation, evaluate where you can begin to implement it within tuition payments workflows. Consider the following: 

Make the Switch to E-Invoicing – E-invoicing allows you to send, process, and store invoices electronically, drastically reducing the time it takes to collect payments. E-invoicing also makes it easier for students and families to submit tuition payments, enhancing the customer experience. 

Enable Multiple Payment Methods – Offer a range of payment methods to improve ease of payment for students. This should include ACH transfers, digital wallet payments, and credit cards. The easier it is to pay, the easier it is to collect payments. 

Enable Recurring Payments – Allow students to pay with recurring billing. This allows for the automatic collection of funds each cycle, reducing the need for unnecessary human intervention. Recurring billing reduces late payments and also helps avoid missed payments.

Set Up Alerts – Make it simple for students to automate tuition payments by enabling reminder notifications. Students have a lot going on, and it can be easy to forget to make payments. With automated alerts or emails, however, you can reduce the chance of that happening. Set alerts to go out a few days before invoices are due, along with additional reminders as the due date approaches. Trigger-based logic is ideal, so you can turn off alerts once a student has paid. 

Get Help Automating Tuition Payments

Automating tuition payments may not be rocket science, but there are a lot of moving pieces. Arrow Payments can help you navigate your internal workflows and processes to discover the most cost-effective, seamless ways to automate tuition payments. Contact us today for a free consultation. 

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